Pen it Like Beckham

Memorable last-minute strikes, thrilling penalty shootouts and astonishing comebacks – “Das Spiel meines Lebens” consists of 24 essays by renowned writers about football matches they will never forget.

The authors do not just describe what happened on the pitch. They also help readers understanding their passion for the club they support and explain why the match they decided to write about means so much to them.

Some of the texts celebrate performances resembling revelations while others admit their admiration of their teams’ fighting spirit leading to sensational victories against higher-rated opponents.

The book’s line-up is outstanding as it includes Ronald Reng, Julia Friedrichs and Christian Spiller.

Das Spiel meines Lebens
By Marius Hulpe, Philipp Winkler and others
Published by rororo (www.rororo.de)

Riot & reconstruction in Austria & Russia

The Russian Revolution has profoundly changed society and economy.

In his new book “Die Russische Revolution. Vom Zarenreich zum Sowjetimperium”, historian Martin Aust does not just describe occurrences of 1918. The expert on Eastern Europe also writes about the social upheavals which started in 1905 and paved the way for everything which was about to follow. Furthermore, Aust’s book features information on the economic circumstances in the different regions of the empire and the situation of farmers, labourers and different religious groups as well as political movements. Unfortunately, the author fails to create an accessible image. Significant political personalities and military leaders are not introduced while important events are listed without any background details. On 230 pages, a different approach should have been possible. Like this, readers are enforced to jostle their way through without being able to grasp the essence – a truly underwhelming experience.

Die Russische Revolution
By Martin Aust
Published by C.H. Beck (www.chbeck.de)

The first half of the 20th century was an enormously difficult time for Austrians. World War One and Two brought death, destruction and unspeakable poverty. In 1945 it seemed as if the country would never get back on its feet again. The situation was similar in 1918 when the Habsburg Empire collapsed following the devastating defeat in the First World War. Andreas Weigl and Alfred Pfoser have created a superb portrait of the four years to follow the end of the war. Conservative and socialist lawmakers were struggling over a new constitution while militia units geared up. Social problems in the cities and on the countryside intensified as people had neither jobs nor food. Anti-Semitism was prevalent while the people struggled making peace with their past as discussions concerning the responsibility of soldiers between 1914 and 1918 continued. “Die erste Stunde Null. Gründungsjahre der österreichischen Republik 1918 – 1922” helps understanding the circumstances in Austria after World War One as it covers a large variety of subjects – an impeccably drafted panorama.

Die erste Stunde Null. Gründungsjahre der österreichischen Republik 1918 – 1922
By Alfred Pfoser and Andreas Weigl
Published by Residenz Verlag (www.residenzverlag.at)

Into the light

September 22nd 2013 felt like ground zero for Germany’s Liberals. On that Sunday, Christian Lindner’s worst nightmare became reality as his party dropped out of parliament. Almost to the day exactly four years later, the FDP celebrated an impressive comeback in federal politics by garnering 10.7 per cent of the electorate – significantly more than Die Linke and the German Greens but less than their far-right rivals AfD.

In “Schattenjahre. Die Rückkehr des politischen Liberalismus”, Lindner describes his party’s complicated restructuring procedure during the past four years. The party leader – who took over shortly after stepping down as general secretary – explains how he reshaped the FDP in order to think afresh about how they become a relevant political factor.

In his book, Lindner shortly reflects on the Liberal Democrats’ main mistakes during their coalition with Angela Merkel’s FDP before focusing on writing about internal reforms, his activities on Instagram and Twitter and marketing initiatives such as creating a new logo and controversial slogans.

“Schattenjahre. Die Rückkehr des politischen Liberalismus” also consists of lengthy chapters in which the author describes his political visions – from the importance of a liberal economic framework to more investments into education. These parts of the book are less exciting than his description of the FDP’s way back up. After several mediocre and some impressive results at provincial ballots, the Freie Demokraten had something to celebrate at last year’s Bundestag vote.

Schattenjahre. Die Rückkehr des politischen Liberalismus
By Christian Lindner
Published by Klett-Cotta (www.klett-cotta.de)

Rise and fall of the first fascist

Executed in a remote lakeside town in northern Italy – that’s how it ended for the world’s first fascist. On 28th April 1945, just a few days before World War Two was officially over, Benito Mussolini and his lifelong companion, lover and partner Claretta Petacci were caught and killed at Lake Como before their corpses were heavily abused by a furious mob in Milan.

In “Mussolini. Der erste Faschist”, Hans Woller reconstructs Mussolini’s political and personal development – from growing up in a small village in Emilia-Romagna, strongly influenced by his leftist father to his ridiculous final ambitions against Italy’s enemies in the Second World War.

Woller describes Mussolini’s first acknowledgements as a writer and his clever journalistic propaganda which helped him coming to power as well as his evolution from a socialist full of self-doubts to a megalomaniac nationalist dictator. Mussolini and his violent troops benefited from the passivity of an incompetent government as frustration among agricultural workers and industrial labourers soared by the day.

“Mussolini. Der erste Faschist” documents war crimes in Africa when the fascist Italian regime became increasingly ambitious abroad but also Mussolini’s repressions against political competitors and the country’s Jewish community.

A key aspect of the biography is, of course, the complex partnership of the Italian dictator and Third Reich leader Adolf Hitler, a relationship shaped by lifelong admiration but also permanent mistrust.

Mussolini. Der erste Faschist
By Hans Woller
Published by C.H. Beck (www.beck.de)