Oxford University Press, 2008
Over the course of his long and controversial career, Joschka Fischer evolved from an archetypal 1960s radical–a firebrand street activist–into a shrewd political insider, operating at the heights of international politics. In the 1980s he was one of the first elected Greens and went on to become Germany’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2005. His famous challenge to Donald Rumsfeld’s case for invading Iraq–“Excuse me, I am not convinced”–won him worldwide recognition, and the Bush administration’s utter contempt.
Here is both a lively biography of Joschka Fischer and a gripping history “from below” of postwar Germany. Paul Hockenos begins in the ruins of postwar Germany and guides us through the flashpoints of the late sixties and seventies, from the student protests and the terrorism of the Baader-Meinhof group to the evolution of Europe’s premier Green party, and brings us up to the present in the united Germany. He shows how the grassroots movements that became the German Greens challenged and changed the republic’s status quo, making postwar Germany more democratic, liberal and worldly along the way. Despite the ideological twists and turns of Fischer and his peers, the lessons of the Holocaust and the Nazi terror remained their constant coordinates. Hockenos traces that political journey, providing readers with unique insight into the impact that these movements and the Greens have had on Germany.
Informed by hundreds of interviews with key figures and fellow travelers, Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic presents readers with one of the most intriguing personalities on the European scene, and paints a rich picture of the rebellious generation of 1968 that became the political elite of modern Germany.
Excerpts of reviews of Joschka Fischer
“Informed and highly readable.””–The Nation
“This is biographical history at its best.”–Philip H. Gordon, Foreign Affairs
“[An] absorbing new book… Hockenos is excellent in tracing the rise of the Green movement from a fringe collection of tree huggers into a groundbreaking force for change in German society.”–Washington Monthly
“This absorbing alternative history of postwar Germany chronicles how as a leader of the new Green Party, Fischer presided over the mainstreaming of environmental concerns and the fashioning of a new foreign policy framework for a unified Germany.”–Foreign Policy In Focus
“[A]n enlightening yarn about a local boy made good, who several times, by the skin of his teeth, saved his party, his government and his reputation.”–The Economist
“…this readable and engaging volume…. Hockenos succeeds here in writing the story not only of Fischer, but also of the diverse protest movements and grassroots campaigns, born of Fischer’s generation, that shaped post-1945 Germany. He writes compellingly about these civic initiatives and political movements….”–The Weekly Standard
“For years, Paul Hockenos has been a refreshingly independent and tough-minded observer of the politics of Eastern and Central Europe. Now he gives us a lucid, comprehensive account of the rise of Joschka Fischer and the whole panoply of red-green politics in Germany. Filling in many holes, at least for the English-speaking public, he shows how much German democracy owes to post-60s citizens’ movements and the ’68-ers’ proverbial ‘long march through the institutions.'”–Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage
“This is an ambitious and original book, deeply researched and lucidly written. It should be on the must-read list for anyone interested in late twentieth-century German history and in the history and legacy of the 1968 generation.”–Mary Nolan, Professor of History, New York University
“Modern Germany is very different from the uptight and defensive country–with much to be defensive about–that I first visited in the 1960s. The significant role in that transformation played by the ‘sixty-eight generation’–and above all by the extraordinarily talented and ever personally evolving Joschka Fischer–is an intriguing story, which Paul Hockenos tells lucidly and well.”–Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group and Foreign Minister of Australia 1988-96
“Paul Hockenos knows Germany very well, and he is not afraid to tackle ambiguity and complexity. His scholarly and eminently readable biography of Joschka Fischer provides a serious alternative to more conventional accounts of major changes in Germany.”–Norman Birnbaum, author of After Progress: American Social Reform and European Socialism in the Twentieth Century
“A refreshingly clear, elegant portrait of the Europe most influenced by the US and most reflective of its ideals and follies. To understand Fischer and Germany’s voyage over the last 60 years is to understand America’s own. Those who wish to understand how others see the US today should read this book.”–Marcia Pally, author of Critique Abandoned: The Ceding of Democracy
Links to full reviews:
The Nation: http://live.thenation.com
Foreign Affairs: http://www.foreignaffairs.com
Washington Monthly: http://findarticles.com
Die Zeit: http://www.zeit.de
Foreign Policy in Focus: http://www.fpif.org
European History Quarterly: http://ehq.sagepub.com