AThe list of recommendations with the greatest distribution in the German-speaking area is published monthly here. Media partners are “Literarische Welt”, “NZZ”, RBB Kultur and Radio Österreich 1. Experts choose ten non-fiction books of the month from the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and economics. Worthwhile in May:
1. Michael Borgolte:
The Worlds of the Middle Ages. Global history of a millennium. CH Beck, 1102 pages, 48 euros.
The mammoth work by the great historian of the Middle Ages is about how Europe was only able to free itself from its global marginal position behind Africa and Asia and become an independent creative power in a long-lasting historical process. Also involved are: Mongolian claims to power, peaceful Muslims and “wet” Silk Roads.
2. Catherine Belton:
Putin’s net. How the KGB took back Russia and then set its sights on the West. Translated by Elisabeth Schmale and Johanna Wais. Publisher HarperCollins, 704 pages, 26 euros.
The former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times and now a Reuters journalist has written one of the richest books on Putin currently on the market. Belton’s research covers all phases of life and also sheds light on Putin’s German network.
3. Dipesh Chakrabarty:
The climate of history in the planetary age. Translated by Christine Pries. Suhrkamp, 444 pages, 32 euros.
Dipesh Chakrabarty is an Indian historian who looks at climate change from a postcolonial perspective. According to his thesis, climate change fundamentally challenges our traditional ideas of history, modernity and globalization.
4. Patrizia Nanz ua
This will be our city. Citizens renew democracy. Translated by Rita Seuss, Edition Körber, 112 pages, 14 euros.
The sense of alienation from the state is growing, especially in communities with poor infrastructure and a lack of jobs. This book discusses suggestions for more citizen proximity and participation at the municipal level.
5. Peter Geimer:
The colors of the past. How history becomes images. CH Beck, 304 pages, 38 euros.
What we know or imagine about history, we learned not least through images: history paintings, photographs, films, etc. The art historian Peter Geimer asks what makes images visual testimonies and how they give shape to history.
6. Jill Lepore:
The Secret Story of Wonder Woman. Translated by Werner Roller. CH Beck, 549 pages, 29.95 euros.
Harvard professor Jill Lepore tells the story of a comic book superhero. And uncovers hidden connections between pop culture and feminism.
7. Wolfgang Müller-Funk:
Cruelty. Twelve chapters of a discourse history of cruelty. Matthes & Seitz Berlin, 362 pages, 32 euros.
A literary study. In twelve chapters – on Robert Musil and Ernst Jiinger, Seneca and Friedrich Nietzsche, Elias Canetti and the Marquis de Sade, Jean Améry and Mario Vargas Llosa, Sigmund Freud and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Ismail Kadare and Arthur Koestler – the book punishes Gottfried Benn Proposition according to which the liberal man cannot face violence, lie.
8. Philip Felsch:
How Nietzsche came out of the cold. story of a rescue. CH Beck, 287 pages, 26 euros.
After 1945, Nietzsche’s reputation lay in ruins. The historian of ideas Felsch vividly traces how the philosopher was rehabilitated through international efforts – also because his legacy was finally placed on a secure textual basis.
9. Deborah Nelson:
thinking without consolation. Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil. Wagenbach-Verlag, 240 pages, 22 euros.
Diane Arbus, Hannah Arendt, Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag and Simone Weil have iconic status today. But for a long time the thinkers faced massive hostility. Deborah Nelson, Professor of English Studies at the University of Chicago, traces what the authors stand for – and why their way of thinking and writing is only now being accepted.
10. Tobias Haberl:
The offended man. Defending a discontinued model. Piper Verlag, 256 pages, 22 euros.
Men are supposedly flawed creatures. “Toxic masculinity” has become an overused buzzword. The journalist Tobias Haberl traces where the debates about being a man are going today.
The extra recommendation of the month
Prof. Horst Bredekamp (HU Berlin) recommends:
Melanie Moller: Homer. Reclam. 100 pages, 10 euros.
“Hardly any book published in the last few weeks has been able to include the horror that broke out on February 25 in its meaning as an evoked ‘turning point in time’. But a number of publications have taken up the basic problem that there is an unbridgeable gap between a moral explanation of the world and factual reality. Politically incorrect scenes of all kinds have been rewritten or erased in recent years in new editions of everything from Shakespeare to comics, in the wake of the sentiment that a time of eternal peace has dawned. This kind of retroactive shaping of reality only allowed one’s own dream world to count.
The narrow, exactly 100-page Reclam volume on Homer by the Berlin archaeologist Melanie Möller, on the other hand, was written with the awareness that this mania for cleaning not only deprives literature of its extreme rashes, but also avoids understanding reality in an appropriate sense. Written for students and adults alike, the volume presents the whole of Homer in a most inspired way, with all his literary vigor, philosophical vision and relentless eye to face life and history.
A table of the most terrible murders crowns this depiction, which makes the land of the “eternal beast man” as comprehensible as the sphere of mercy. As a vote for the literary transcendence of the world, this narrow volume is a piece of reality in its own right, developed on the first poet of historical time. According to the author, it was written as therapy against those ‘smart-ass, self-righteous’ readers ‘who want to make straightforward feel-good reading possible for everybody’. A small, big book.” (Horst Bredekamp)
The jury for the “Non-Fiction of the Month”
Tobias Becker, “Spiegel”; Manon Bischoff, “Spectrum of Science”; Natascha Freundel, RBB Culture; Eike Gebhardt, Berlin; Daniel Haufler, Berlin; Knud von Harbou, publicist, Feldafing; Prof. Jochen Hörisch, University of Mannheim; Günter Kaindlstorfer, Vienna; Otto Kallscheuer, Sassari, Italy; Petra Kammann, “Feuilleton Frankfurt”; Jörg-Dieter Kogel, Bremen; Wilhelm Krull, The New Institute, Hamburg; Marianna Lieder, freelance critic, Berlin; Prof. Herfried Münkler, Humboldt University; Gerlinde Pölsler, “Moth”; Marc Reichwein, WORLD; Thomas Ribi, “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”; Prof. Sandra Richter, German Literature Archive Marbach; Wolfgang Ritschl, ORF; Florian Rötzer, “Krass & Concrete”; Norbert Seitz, Berlin; Anne-Catherine Simon, “Die Presse”, Vienna; Prof. Philipp Theisohn, University of Zurich; Andreas Wang, Berlin; Harro Zimmermann, Bremen; Stefan Zweifel, Switzerland.