Review: Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories by Konrad H. Jarausch and Michael Geyer

Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories
Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories by Konrad H. Jarausch &amp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thought-provoking, clever and at times harrowing, this book is no light-hearted read but it tackles essential issues that anyone trying to understand German history will undoubtedly encounter.

Though the focus of the book is more about German identity and Germany’s place in historiography, its ideas are pretty accessible to anyone with a keen interest in knowing more about the 20th century and Germany’s place within it. It approaches many difficult subjects with a painful honesty that puts trauma under the microscope and investigates its causes and consequences.

While certain chapters of the book would be more useful if you’re studying a specific theme or period of German history, it’s really in the book’s completeness that it gives you a well-rounded perspective of the issues with looking at complex histories and identities which is an invaluable tool for any student looking to expand their critical thinking.

Shattered Past also has a goldmine of research to draw from which, when approaching the daunting swath of literature about 20th century Germany, is a vital yellow brick road through which to learn more about particular issues. What’s more, the book evaluates a broad range of literature and assesses their usefulness in turn which can save a student many hours of being slogged over articles only to find them of poor reputation.

After reading the book from cover to cover over a period of six months, my heavily annotated and underlined copy will have a secure home on my bookcase for a long time as it’s one of the most thought-provoking academic books I’ve read so far.

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The EU Referendum: You’re Tired of Hearing About it but There’s One Last Thing You Should Know

Recently everywhere I look has been taken over by a very big question – is Britain going to leave the EU?
This is partly because I choose to surround myself with politics, heck I’m a history student, being a politics nerd pretty much comes with the territory. However, the EU Referendum is something special.

Unlike most politics, this has went well beyond the heady realm of the elite bigwigs in government and is now an issue that is crossing the social and political boundaries of generations, class, race, and regions with a fiercely passionate edge.

But despite this, there is still one major problem that I just can’t iron out of the argument no matter what I read or who I listen to.

I respect everyone’s right to their own political views but I’m finding it hard to see any logic in anyone whatsoever voting Leave when I’m yet to find a single solid argument of how it would be a positive decision on a global scale. That’s right, global.

I’ve followed the debate for months looking at both sides and this is still something I can’t get my head around no matter how impartial I try to be or how much research I do.

There is literally nothing to gain by Britain leaving the EU that cannot be answered for by the wealth of benefits Britain reaps from its membership.

Furthermore, if you are not a British citizen/you detach yourself from that status for a minute, just ask yourself – is a breakdown in the European Union, which is a very real possibility if Britain leaves, going to have a positive impact on a global scale?

Is a future of a divided Europe really the legacy you want your vote to have?

And what about the past?
Has political disengagement and isolationism ever really benefitted political relations?

Think about war, think about terrorism, think about technological and medical advancement, space exploration, civil and human rights progress, international relations, education, ethics, religions.

Think about the big stuff and just ask yourself – are we better off exploring and addressing these issues as a united front or should Britain turn away from all of this and cast itself aloof from these problems by disengaging with the very union that was created to solve them?

I urge everyone to deeply consider this before they cast their vote. This referendum isn’t some political protest, a patriotic takeback of ‘England for the English’, some working class revolt or a fingers up to the EU.

Now, you could be right in sitting there scratching your head and wondering why I’m asking you to think about your vote on such a big scale. It seems silly right? Arrogant even, to think that Britain could have such an impact on the enormously broad and complex issues I’ve mentioned above, let alone where you put the all-important cross on that scrap of paper.
But what if it isn’t?

Can you really justify running the risk of taking it any less seriously?

Will the generations after us be proud of our efforts to consider each argument both carefully and seriously or will they look back in amguish at the shambolic media campaigns (both leave and remain) that have taken over our screens in recent months?

As almost every student who takes history in an English comprehensive knows (alongside hopefully many more people!), it took just one spark to set alight the events leading to World War One.
I’m not saying that World War Three is on the brink here but just consider how these brief moments in history can then become the spark that sets the world on fire.

Can anyone confidently say the EU referendum is a light or easy decision with this in mind?

The EU referendum is a pivotal moment in modern history that can either divide us or bring us closer together in the name of progress.

I’m voting remain, that much is obvious.
This post however, isn’t about talking you round to my opinion. It’s to provoke you into thinking further about the impact of your vote and what’s at stake here. If you vote Leave then that is completely acceptable. You are not racist or a bigot or uneducated or any of the other entirely undemocratic slurs that are being bandied about as a result of that decision. You have your reasons and so long as you can rationally justify them on a bigger scale then no one has any right to think negatively of you because of that. That isn’t what democracy is about.

However, you have a responsibility to yourself and to everyone around you both past, present and future. That responsibility is to not take the EU referendum lightly or be swayed by the media’s statistical spin that tries to make you and your interests the heart of this issue.

Please, whatever you box you do decide to make your mark on, strongly consider the bigger picture and the impact your vote will have on the future and indeed, the history books in generations to come.

This decision has to be bigger than us as individuals, families, our small local communities or even our children’s futures.
We all must pause here to think deeply and broadly of the bigger global picture and not of ourselves.

Above all, think.

Photos and Words: Pages of the Past

 – ‘She lived for pages that wove the past into the very fabric of her dreams, devouring their stories one by one as times long gone by became more familiar than her own.’ –
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