The Shortest History of Germany
Does exactly what the title suggests. As one might imagine it's a rapid race through a lot of history, but the key currents are clear to see: the nature of Germany changes from east to west, to the extent that the two areas remain religiously, politically, and intellectually distinct even to this day.
The effects of geography on history are made clear by the persistence of certain demarcations even when one might not imagine them. The Roman limes, the line of forts on the western edge, define a boundary based on the ease of campaigning in the countryside; there's then another Roman boundary at the Elbe, with the area between the two being the extent of Roman punitive expeditions. But these lines essentially track the borders of the future West Germany, as the Russian, American, and British armies met at the Elbe at the end of the Second World War, freezing what was a Roman boundary into 20th century geopolitics.
4/5. Finished 10 April 2019.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)