We're not sure if it was the bizarre cuisine, the epic castles, the mad princes, or the horse-mating videos that caught the attention of the Dolman Travel Book Award committee, but it was something because Simon Winder's GERMANIA just made Dolman's shortlist for 2011 Travel Book of the Year!
Winder writes with a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic, endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild.
GERMANIA is an entertaining read covering serious topics---how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It's about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape.
Booklist says, "[Winder's] account is loaded with enjoyable digressions on German food, the charm of medieval castles, and German composers. [...] This is an enjoyable, often amusing, often serious effort to understand a people who remain at the center of European civilization."
Kirkus Reviews calls GERMANIA "a cheerful, dryly unserious survey and travelogue through the landscape and psyche of Germany," and says, "[Winder] offers an impressive discussion of the shattering effects of World War I, both on Germany and the world."
The 2011 Dolman Travel Book of the Year will be awarded on the evening of July 6th at Hatchards Bookshop in London.