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The Unmasterable Past

The Unmasterable Past

History, Holocaust, and German National Identity, With a New Preface

Charles S. Maier

ISBN 9780674929777

Publication date: 03/30/1998

Bringing his book up to date with reflections since its first publication a decade ago, Charles S. Maier writes that the historians’ controversy gave Germany a chance to air the issues immediately before unification and, in effect, the controversy substituted for the constitutional debate that a united Germany never got around to holding. The premises of national community, whether formulated in terms of legal culture, inherited collective responsibilities, or patriotic habits of the heart, had already been subjects for vigorous discussion.


  • Maier has written what is the best book available on the tangled and acrimonious debate among the German historians. It is incisive in its analysis of the arguments on all sides of the debate and admirably objective in its assessment of them.

    —Gordon Craig, New York Review of Books


  • Charles S. Maier is Leverett Saltonstall Research Professor of History at Harvard University. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Council on Foreign Relations, he has written a number of award-winning books, including Recasting Bourgeois Europe, The Unmasterable Past, Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and the End of East Germany, and Once Within Borders.

Book Details

  • 256 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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