Author(s): John Ramsden
The Times decided in 1891 that 'Germany does not excite in any class among us the slightest feeling of distrust or antipathy' - the zenith of a century in which Britons admired German culture and our monarchy was closely involved with Germany royalty. Yet twenty-five years later began the era of world wars in which Britain and Germany were twice pitted against each other. After 1945, it seemed that Britain would learn to co-exist on happier terms with newly democratic Germany, yet persistent memories of 1940 have slowed that process, hesitations reinforced by the showing of war films on television, chants on the terraces, and populist tabloid gibes. John Ramsden's groundbreaking book looks at every aspect of Anglo-German relations for the last 100 years: from the wars themselves to how they have been seen by the tabloids as re-enacted in subsequent football matches. And he askes 'What is the British problem with Germany?' As Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin once said 'I tries 'ard, but I 'ates 'em'.
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'A lucid, funny history of our attitude to the Germans since the Victorian age, encompassing everything from the Battle of the Somme to Fawlty Towers' Dominic Sandbrook, DAILY TELEGRAPH Books of the Year 2006 'Ramsden's book traces an extraordinary relationship that was central to Europe's 20th century. In 1890 "an Anglo-German war seemed utterly fantastic" - but in 2001, beating Germany 5-1 could turn "perfectly sane people all over England" mad with joy. DON'T MENTION THE WAR presents many unforgettable tableaux: Goebbels inspiring Hitler, as the candles gutter in the bunker, by reading Carlyle's Frederick the Great; Ernest Bevin, then nabob of a great chunk of Germany, telling his top general that "I tries ?ard, Brian, but I ?ates them"; Harold Macmillan still referring in the 1950s to "the Huns"; Prince Philip handing Manchester City keeper (and former Nazi paratrooper) Bert Trautmann his 1959 FA Cup winner's medal with the words "Sehr gut!"; Nicholas Ridley's Fawltyesque inability to stop mentioning the war' GUARDIAN 'Germanophobes and Germanophiles alike will find much to enjoy in this glorious synthesis of anecdotes and prejudices' Dominic Sandbrook, SUNDAY TIMES 'Ramsden's perambulation through more than a century of inter-state relationships and anecdotes is as amusing as it is enlightening' GLASGOW HERALD 'His richly documented book [exemplifies] the British virtues empiricism, reticence and fairness. It is a splendid testament to the fact that, though British are often still beastly to the Germans, they are also their own best critics.' LITERARY REVIEW 'Ramsden has dug heavy acres of research and unearthed some fine nuggets.' GUARDIAN SATURDAY REVIEW 'Ramsden deftly weaves together anecdote, films, snippets of government memos and tabloid stunts' OBSERVER
John Ramsden is Professor of Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London.