Spring 24: Nonfiction overview

An overview of the five non-fiction titles in our spring 2024 selection

With subjects ranging from the history of travel to the Holy Land, sporting participation, and 9,000-year-old archaeological remains, as well as titles on the deportation of German Jews during the Holocaust, and a girl guide group who were part of the French Resistance, you are sure to find something to pique readers’ interest among our spring selection of non-fiction titles. These five titles have been chosen by our expert jury from a wealth of high-quality non-fiction submissions, and are guaranteed to receive English-language translation funding support.

Unterwegs ins Morgenland, (‘The Came to the Holy Land’), Bernd Brunner, Galiani-Berlin, 2024, pp. 320

‘They Came to the Holy Land’ follows people who have either visited or settled in the Holy Land since the birth of Christ. They range from those undertaking faith-based pilgrimages, to those travelling for professional reasons such as researchers, historians, archaeologists, botanists, geologists and, towards the end of the 20th century, package holidaymakers. Not only does the book depict individual journeys, it also takes the reader on a journey, so that at its conclusion we are able to understand how perpetual conflicts, changing attitudes, and the influx of competing groups of people have all contributed to the complexity of the political situation in the region.

Bernd Brunner is a writer of non-fiction and essays. He has published more than ten works to date, many of which have been translated into English.

http://www.berndbrunner.com/

Dabei sein wäre alles, (‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’), Martin Krauß, C. Bertelsmann, 2024, pp. 400

Martin Krauß’s book is an accessible history of modern sport. ‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’ analyses the social and political significance of sport, including the long tradition of using sport to include or exclude particular groups of people from taking part. The book’s seven chapters consider the impact of a range of different factors on sporting participation, including: class and politics; race and ethnicity; sex; disability; religion; gender; and nationality. ‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’ is a balanced and self-aware work, which is well-written and researched. Krauß’s broad scope reflects the wide appeal of his book, which both challenges and enriches our perception of sporting history.

Martin Krauß is an experienced sports journalist and author who has published nine books in Germany, none of which have so far been translated into English. He also campaigns against antisemitism and right-wing extremism, and teaches at a media academy. He lives in Berlin.

http://www.martinkrauss.de

Deportiert: ‘Immer mit einem Fuß im Grab (Erfahrungen deutscher Juden)’, Andrea Löw (‘Deported: “Always with one foot in the grave” (Experiences of German Jews)’), S. Fischer, 2024, pp. 352

Acclaimed Holocaust Studies professor, Andrea Löw, explores the lived experiences of Third Reich Jews during the Holocaust. ‘Deported’ examines how the National Socialist regime implemented the deportation of the Jewish population to the ghettos, and later to the extermination camps of Eastern Europe.

‘Deported’ is an engrossing exploration of the early atrocities most often overlooked by Holocaust literature, based on the letters, diaries, memoirs, postcards, and oral testimonies of hundreds of German Jewish ghetto inhabitants. The first-hand testimony from those who perished is relatively rare. The testimonies provide insight into the deportees’ personal impressions as they navigated their loss of freedom, terrible living conditions and fear for their lives. The book achieves a careful balance between historical analysis and weaving the threads of individual life stories into the narrative. Its part-chronological, part-thematic arrangement is coherent and thorough.

Andrea Löw is the Deputy Head of the Centre for Holocaust Studies at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. She has published a dozen academic books, including two encyclopaedic handbooks on the Holocaust and the Łódź ghetto. None of her works have been translated into English.

Das Rätsel der Schamanin: Eine archäologische Reise zu unseren Anfängen, Harald Meller, Kai Michel (‘The Mystery of the Shaman – An Archaeological Journey to our Beginnings‘), Rowohlt Verlag, 2022, pp. 368 

Taking the story of the 9000-year-old Shaman of Bad Dürrenberg as their starting point and anchor, Harald Meller and Kai Michel present a broad and readable exploration of a variety of spiritual and historical issues.  

Meller and Michel offer a compelling account of a fascinating discovery, the nature of human life in the Mesolithic period, and the Shaman’s history since her unearthing. The themes they reflect on in the process include the origins of human religion and spirituality, the degree to which the idea of a ‘shaman’ is a useful concept, the ongoing influence of European colonial thought on our interpretation of language and the world, how we see our own ancestors, and the use and misuse of history for political ends. 

Harald Meller is the State Archaeologist of Saxony-Anhalt, museum director, and a professor of archaeology in Halle an der Saale. He led the excavations and research related to the Shaman of Bad Dürrenberg.

Kai Michel is a historian and literary scholar. He has co-authored two books with Harald Meller, and lives in Zurich and the Black Forest.

Letzte Wege in die Freiheit: sechs Pfadfinderinnen im Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus, Thomas Seiterich, (‘Last Paths to Freedom. Six French girl guides and their resistance to Nazi Germany’), S. Hirzel Verlag, 2023, pp. 208

Thomas Seiterich’s thrilling historical account of the ‘Équipe Pur-Sang’ resistance group, ‘Last Paths to Freedom’ tells the story of six girl guides in Nazi-occupied Alsace, who risked their lives to save hundreds of prisoners and refugees from German persecution in the Second World War. Seiterich focuses on a hitherto unresearched footnote in the history of Nazi Germany and occupied France. Aged between 17 and 27, the six members of the self-styled ‘Équipe Pur-Sang’ used a variety of different escape routes, westward across the Vosges mountains, or southwards into Switzerland, finding new routes whenever their current ones were compromised by increased Nazi surveillance. Between 1940 and 1942, they built a large network of secret helpers, including inn-keepers, church workers, shopkeepers, and office staff. These were in turn assisted by the local populace who turned a blind eye to the resistance fighters’ activities, indirectly enabling them to escape the attention of the occupying forces. Before their capture by the Gestapo in the spring of 1942 (they initially received the death sentence, but ultimately survived), the women are thought to have helped around 500 people to escape the clutches of the Nazis.  

Thomas Seiterich studied history, sociology and theology in Freiburg, Jerusalem and Frankfurt.

Listen to Thomas Seiterich (German language only) read from ‘Last Paths to Freedom

Nonfiction selection – Spring 2024

[book reviews will appear here…]

Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

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