Book look: Hannover 96 highlights

Hannover 96 is not Germany’s most glamorous football club. The team from Lower Saxony look back on decades in the Bundesliga elevator – after a few seasons in the top competition, the club was relegated again (before it fought its way up again). This time around, the city’s Reds are about to be sent down once more. Does such a rather mediocre club with a passionate fanbase deserve a mediocre book of anecdotes? Certainly not.

“111 Gründe, Hannover 96 zu lieben” is an ambitious fan project dedicated to the club’s legends, its supporters and little bits and pieces about the city and the region. Stephanie Ristig-Bresser and Michael Bresser write about the beginnings of Hannover 96 and the few triumphs – two league titles in the first half of the 20th century and a DFB Cup win in 1992. Many players’ achievements are celebrated – from goal machine Dieter Schatzschneider to fullback Per Mertesacker.

Some chapters are funny, amusing and informative: readers find out about some coaches’ bizarre methods, supporters’ collections of memorabilia and rivalries with other teams of the region, especially Eintracht Braunschweig. Other parts of the book deal with the club’s sinister side such as policies in the era before and during the Nazis’ Third Reich. The book also pays tribute to Robert Enke, the club’s keeper who threw himself in front of a train in 2009.

The authors carried out extensive research to create a lively portrait of their favourite team. This is a great achievement. However, the various repeats in order to fulfil the key task of naming 111 reasons why Hannover 96 is great are regrettable. Ristig-Bresser and Bresser write about the team’s most important victories all over again. This is as annoying as the book’s satirical elements.

Another negative aspect is the high number of spelling errors, especially when it comes to names: joungster (sic), Jürgen Bangura (sic), Dirk Duffner (sic), Logan Bailey (sic), Osssy (sic) Pfeiffer, FC (sic) Freiburg. These slips and some incorrect information (the authors claim that Germany were beaten by Spain in the 2006 World Cup) reduce the pleasure of discovering the club by reading this book.

111 Gründe, Hannover 96 zu lieben
By Stephanie Ristig-Bresser & Michael Bresser
Published by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: cities & celebrations

A German historian has created a remarkably comprehensive portrait of urban developments since 1850.  “Metropolen der Moderne. Eine europäische Stadtgeschichte seit 1850” by Gießen University professorFriedrich Lenger – who presented his Werner Sombart biography in 2012 – informs about architecture, migration movements, housing policies, crime statistics and culture in London, Berlin, Lisbon and several other European cities. Readers find a book of 750 pages – including a 200-page bibliography – which ignores not a single relevant aspect of developments in Europe’s biggest cities.

Metropolen der Moderne. Eine europäische Stadtgeschichte seit 1850
By Friedrich Lenger
Published by C.H. Beck (

More than 20 popular writers have contributed stories as Petra Hartlieb presents a book about birthdays. The Munich-born bookshop manager and author of “Meine wundervolle Buchhandlung” got creators of bestsellers to participate. “Tortenschlachten. Geschichten vom Geburtstag” features funny, melancholic and dramatic episodes. Among the authors are “Willkommen Österreich” entertainer Dirk Stermann, philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann, columnist Kurt Palm and novelist Cornelia Travnicek (“Chucks”). “Tortenschlachten. Geschichten vom Geburtstag” follows “Am Zug. Neue Texte übers Bahnfahren”, an excellent selection of texts regarding train journeys and passengers’ manifold experiences. Both books have been released by Residenz Verlag.

Tortenschlachten. Geschichten vom Geburtstag
By Petra Hartlieb
Published by Residenz Verlag (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: Bismarck & Bayern

A German historian has edited and republished his father’s monumental Otto von Bismarck biography. Ernst Engelberg’s two-volume release from 1985 has been shortened, updated and refurbished to make it more approachable to readers in the 21st century. At more than 850 pages, the book is an intense, inescapable portrait of one of the most important political personalities in the history of Germany. Engelberg documents Bismarck’s policies and actions in a very detailed, comprehensive and highly competent manner. “Bismarck. Sturm über Europa”, which also features some photographs, includes 21 chapters and an epilogue by Achim Engelberg, a Berlin-based historian who has been writing for renowned news publications such as Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Der Freitag.

Bismarck. Sturm über Europa
By Ernst Engelberg & Achim Engelberg
Published by Siedler (

Franz Beckenbauer. Oliver Kahn. Philipp Lahm. Derby of Munich. Bundesliga. Champions League. So you think you know all about Germany’s most successful club? Think again. SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAOr read this book. “Alles Bayern! Unverzichtbares Wissen rund um den Rekordmeister” is not just a precise and comprehensive collection of data regarding Munich’s Reds. Author Christoph Bausenwein’s writing style also makes facts very approachable. His new book resembles a journey through the past decades. Supporters of the Bundesliga kings will find out everything about the FCB from A like “Ausländer” (international FC Bayern squad members) to issues regarding “Zuschauer” (the stadium audience). The author of acclaimed soccer books like “Das Prinzip Uli Hoeneß” and “Nur der BVB. Die Geschichte von Borussia Dortmund” (with Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling) reveals the team’s best penalty scorers, explains terms like FC Hollywood and informs about Footballers of the Year sporting Bayern’s colours – from icons like 1974 World Cup champion Gerd Müller to legendary Sweden defender Patrik Andersson and Austria’s David Alaba.

Alles Bayern! Unverzichtbares Wissen rund um den Rekordmeister
By Christoph Bausenwein
Published by Verlag Die Werkstatt (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: bad boy Best

One of Germany’s most renowned sports authors has presented his George Best biography.

Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling – who previously wrote about Borussia Dortmund, Johann Cruyff and Pep Guardiola – examines the manifold aspects which shaped the personality of the Northern Ireland legend. Best, who passed away in 2005 after many years of heavy drinking, will always remain one of the biggest favourites of Manchester United supporters.

The versatile midfielder, who has been compared to Brazilian contemporaries thanks to his skills, was an infamous 1970s soccer bad boy. Best symbolised youthful rebellion on and off the pitch while students took to the streets across Europe to call for peace in times of the Cold War and United States’ Vietnam invasion.

“George Best. Der ungezähmte Fußballer”, the new 270-page biography, does not only tell from Best’s childhood, beginnings in football and his American adventure. The book – a Verlag Die Werkstatt publication – also features statements about the Belfast boy by Alex Ferguson, Tony Blair, Eusebio and others as well as fantastic photographs.

Schulze-Marmeling’s Best portrait is just one of many exciting football-themed releases of the past months. In “Die Paten der Liga. Spielerberater und ihre Geschäfte”, Bild journalist Kai Psotta takes fans behind the scenes as he discloses the business strategies of agents operating in Europe’s high-profile competitions.

“Mroskos Talente. Das erstaunliche Leben eines Bundesliga-Scouts” is Ronald Reng’s latest book. Reng is an award-winning author who wrote about London, the career of manager Heinz Höher and, most famously, the personal struggles and various throwbacks Robert Enke had to cope with before he killed himself. “Bundesliga wie sie lebt und lacht” is Ben Redelings’ latest selection of hilarious Bundesliga anecdotes.

George Best. Der ungezähmte Fußballer
By Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling
Published by Verlag Die Werkstatt (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Vienna soccer showdown as title race heats up

The capital city’s top teams are fighting to get back on track as they clash in the tradition-rich derby tomorrow.

SK Rapid and FK Austria performed poorly in recent weeks. Rapid failed to beat Red Bull and WAC while Thorsten Fink’s Austria even lost against bottom-placed Grödig. Fink yesterday admitted feeling the pressure while Rapid manager Zoran Barisic argued that his team also need luck to be more successful in turning chances into goals.

Rapid, who consider signing NK Maribor striker Gregor Bajde, must do without injured left-back Stefan Stangl and midfielder Thanos Petsos. The Greek national team ace will join Werder Bremen in summer. Stangl and Florain Kainz might also leave the Green-Whites. German Bundesliga clubs are eyeing up Kainz. Stangl’s strong league performances created attention in Germany and England.

An intense atmosphere is guaranteed when the archrivals clash for the 317th time. The Bundesliga highlight will take place at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna-Leopoldstadt (kickoff: 4.30pm). Rapid managed to cope with the derby pressure better than their opponents in recent years. However, the home team must not underestimate the capabilities of Fink’s squad.

Already today (Saturday), leaders Salzburg face struggling Ried. Mattersburg, who are coached by former Sturm Graz star Ivica Vastic, clash with Heimo Pfeifenberger’s WAC. Admira face Grödig, the team of ex-Rapid defender Peter Schöttel.

The Austrian Football Bundesliga after 30 of 36 rounds:

Red Bull Salzburg, 58 points
SK Rapid, 52
FK Austria, 47
Admira Wacker, 43
SK Sturm Graz, 42
SV Mattersburg, 37
Wolfsberger AC, 36
Altach, 36
SV Ried, 34
SV Grödig, 28

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: French & furniture

A renowned publishing house has released a new French vocabulary box. The Langenscheidt product features around 800 terms and 21 topics like nature, travelling, communication and social relationships. Working with the Vokabelbox is great fun thanks to its vast amount of information. The cards have a clear structure and feature all important information regarding the words, such as the correct pronunciation and example sentences. The “Langenscheidt Vokabelbox Französisch” is just one of many excellent language-learning publications by Langenscheidt. The publishing house recently also presented a French calendar for 2016 (Langenscheidt Sprachkalender 2016 Französisch) featuring grammar exercises, recipes and cultural information. Another current publication is “Muckefunk & Sendeschluss. Wörter außer Betrieb” by Nikolai Kinast. In the book, Kinast investigates the history of words which are rarely used nowadays. “Muckefunk & Sendeschluss” contains astonishing revelations regarding German in the 21st century.

Langenscheidt Vokabelbox Französisch
By the Langenscheidt team
Published by Langenscheidt (

From being one of Germany’s best journalists to working in a furniture store on the countryside – this is the incredible story of “Möbelhaus”, a non-fictional novel by Robert Kisch, which is a pseudonym. His new book reveals the reckless methods of company chiefs in the business as the pressure of great sale figures is increasing due to a rising number of competitors willing to reduce their prices throughout the year. The Droemer publication earned positive reviews and lots of attention by the press. German papers lauded the book as “important” since it shows a “lack of moral”. “Möbelhaus” discloses the various effects of the economic crisis and changes in our 21st century society.

Möbelhaus. Ein Tatsachenroman
By Robert Kisch
Published by Droemer (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: Donald at the disco

A new collection of coloured stories takes you on a fantastic time travel. “Disco, Ducks und Dauerwelle. Die 70er in Entenhausen” features 15 stories from Entenhausen (Duckburg) by different artists and translators.

On 180 pages, fans of Tick, Trick und Track (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) will find out who had short-lived fame as chart-topping singer Donny-Donny. Another story tells from Dagobert Duck’s (Scrooge McDuck) latest idea to make money: grass-fuelled cars.

However, not only the most popular characters from Entenhausen appear in this collection. One story features the Brazilian Disney stars Jose and Manuel while another one tells from Goofy’s bubblegum challenge against a feared felon. Not all adventures are first class. “Disco, Ducks und Dauerwelle. Die 70er in Entenhausen” also includes some poor plots like “Der Preis der Heiterkeit”. However, most of the tales are gripping and funny.

This collection reveals the high standard of Disney publications in the 1970s, a difficult era for the entertainment industry. Some of the stories were created by Italian artists while others have never been released in German before!

There is also some bonus material as “Disco, Ducks und Dauerwelle. Die 70er in Entenhausen” includes articles informing about developments in society, politics and showbiz in Germany and around the world.

Disco, Ducks und Dauerwelle. Die 70er in Entenhausen
By Carl Barks. Tony Strobl and others
Published by Ehapa Comic Collection (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: Portisch & poets

One of Austria’s most renowned journalists has presented his memoirs. On around 380 pages, Hugo Portisch documents his career as newspaper editor and influential television reporter and commentator. However, the book is also a good opportunity to examine the difficult rise of Austria from a war-torn, impoverished World War Two leftover to its strong economic and diplomatic position in the European Union of the 21st century. Portisch has made history in the truest sense of the word by creating the brilliant TV documentaries Österreich I and Österreich II as well as many other political TV programmes. Readers of “Aufregend war es immer” find out what kept Portisch going through the decades. They learn about his relationship with late ORF boss Gerd Bacher and former SPÖ Chancellor Franz Vranitzky. The book also features several photographs showing the award-winning journalist with Pope John Paul II., members of his film crew and his wife at their Tuscan garden.

Aufregend war es immer
By Hugo Portisch
Published by Ecowin (

The impressive oeuvre of Thomas Bernhard and the intimidating stories created by Franz Kafka are important parts of Central European literary history. Arthur Schnitzler’s “Traumnovelle” was even turned into a controversial Hollywood movie by Stanley Kubrick. Little is known, however, about these fantastic writers’ real-life jobs. Novelist and advocate Janko Ferk (“Der Kaiser schickt Soldaten aus”) carried out extensive research to find out more about the professions of Franz Grillparzer, Bertha Zuckerkandl and seven other influential authors. “Bauer Bernhard, Beamter Kafka” features many surprising details and anecdotes as well as several photographs and documents.

Bauer Bernhard, Beamter Kafka
By Janko Ferk
Published by Styria Premium (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: the Istanbul experience

The controversies concerning religion, the relation between men and women and the fear from earthquakes are just three of many topics debated by two German correspondents in their new book about living in Turkey. After having reported from different countries and continents, Susanne Landwehr and Michael Thumann spent six years in Istanbul.

Their book “Neue Anschrift Bosporus. Wie wir versuchten, in Istanbul heimisch zu werden” is a personal reflection on their experiences in the Turkish megacity. While Landwehr faced patronising advices as she attempted to park her car, Thumann was invited to a fast-breaking organised by the ruling AK Party.

Landwehr and Thumann also write about their difficulties finding appropriate kindergarten and school for their two sons. They compare their Turkish bureaucracy nightmares with marathon application procedures in Germany, write about going to the hairdresser’s and getting along with landlords and neighbours. Without becoming superficial in their writing, Landwehr and Thumann describe their culinary discoveries and leisure time adventures in the concrete desert dominated by motorised traffic. An essential part of the book is dedicated to the intense conflict between conservative and liberal attitudes regarding women’s role in the society.

The authors tried to find out whether this clash is based on religious or sociological points of view. “Neue Anschrift Bosporus” is a well-balanced report featuring personal experiences and general information about life in the city which is so attractive to tourists and people from Anatolia hoping for fortune and happiness.

Susanne Landwehr and Michael Thumann – who do not shy away from expressing their opinion in any of the book’s chapters – have achieved what has become rare: creating an authentic portrait of a city and its inhabitants free from worn-out clichés.

Neue Anschrift Bosporus. Wie wir versuchten, in Istanbul heimisch zu werden
By Susanne Landwehr and Michael Thumann
Published by Rowohlt (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

Book look: Schmidt’s socialist time travel

Jochen Schmidt has travelled eastern Germany to find out what is still left of the Communist GDR (DDR).

The renowned author, who previously released “Drüben und drüben” (with David Wagner) and “Gebrauchsanweisung für Rumänien” among other books, went by car and visited several towns across the country. Schmidt, who grew up in East Berlin, kept away from touristic hotspots like the ancient city centre of Dresden but focused on places outside the public spotlight.

For “Gebrauchsanweisung für Ostdeutschland”, the writer visited Kyffhäuser, Guben, Mödlareuth and several other, mostly small towns but also cities like Leipzig. Wherever he went, Schmidt examined architectural developments since Germany’s reunification. He also searched different flea markets and antiques stores for DDR era books, dishes and toys. His approach to the issue is a highly personal one. Not every reader will agree with his strongly subjective stance.

Throughout the book, Schmidt criticises different occurrences between 1990 and today. He does not try to hide his support for various sociological circumstances regarding people’s coexistence in the former GDR and abstains from writing about contemporary clichés and many inhabitants’ support for far-right and nationalist ideology. Readers who are not familiar with certain historical events and economic aspects concerning the socialist regime in Eastern Germany will find it difficult to understand certain episodes told by Schmidt in his new book.

The author shares many anecdotes from his childhood and how he experienced growing up in the GDR with all the country’s bizarre political and economical constellations. He obviously does not care much about explaining today’s shiny sides of tourism key areas like Berlin and Potsdam. “Gebrauchsanweisung für Ostdeutschland” turns out to be an intensive journey through time with a controversially dominating personal scent as Schmidt writes about aspects like preferred toys and fashion as a teenager and his current passion for learning Russian.

Gebrauchsanweisung für Ostdeutschland
By Jochen Schmidt
Published by Piper (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas