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  • Published: 27 August 2019
  • ISBN: 9780241262870
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 432

Learning from the Germans

Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil




As the western world struggles with legacies of racism and colonialism, Susan Neiman asks what we can learn from the Germans about confronting the evils of the past

What can we learn from the past in order to move forward?

Susan Neiman's Learning from the Germans delivers an urgently needed perspective on how a country can come to terms with its historical wrongdoings. Neiman, who grew up as a white girl in the American South during the civil rights movement, is a Jewish woman who has spent much of her adult life in Berlin. In clear and gripping prose, she uses this unique perspective to combine philosophical reflection, personal history and conversations with both Americans and Germans who are grappling with the evils of their own national histories.

Through focusing on the particularities of those histories, she provides examples for other nations, whether they are facing resurgent nationalism, ongoing debates over reparations or controversies surrounding historical monuments and the contested memories they evoke. It is necessary reading for all those confronting their own troubled pasts.

  • Published: 27 August 2019
  • ISBN: 9780241262870
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 432

About the author

Susan Neiman

Susan Neiman is an American philosopher who taught at Yale University and Tel Aviv University, and is currently the director of the Einstein Forum. She is the author of three previous books, most recently Evil in Modern Thought. Neiman lives with her three children in Berlin.

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Praise for Learning from the Germans

The history wars shape far more than how we remember the past. They shape the societies we bequeath to future generations. Susan Neiman's book is an important and welcome weapon in that battle

Deborah E. Lipstadt, The New York Times

Ambitious and detailed, [Neiman's book] ranges from the initial reluctance of German citizens to begin the process of truth and reconciliation to small-town Mississippi, and the shooting of nine African American American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina...[Neiman] has lived in a succession of places in which the past lies heavy on the present. And, perhaps even more crucially, she has done so with an outsider's perspective and the distance to ask difficult questions.

The Guardian

Growing up in the American south during the civil rights era, and spending much of her adult life in and around Berlin as a Jewish woman, Neiman has a keen ear for discomforts and awkwardnesses and the tics of guilt and avoidance

Anne McElvoy, The Observer

Susan Neiman relates hard truths from which others shrink. Her audacious work is a refreshing change from those, afraid to offend, who leave unsaid things that seem self-evident.

The Guardian

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