Blurb: Without the benefit of hindsight, how do you interpret what's right in front of your eyes?
Travellers in the Third Reich is an extraordinary history of the rise of the Nazis based on fascinating first-hand accounts, including students, politicians, musicians, scholars, athletes, journalists, tourists, even celebrities like Charles Lindbergh and Samuel Beckett. Their experiences create a remarkable three-dimensional picture of Germany under Hitler - one so palpable that the reader will feel, hear, even breathe the atmosphere.
These are the accidental eyewitnesses to history. Disturbing, absurd, moving and ranging from the deeply trivial to the deeply tragic, their tales give a fresh insight into the complexities of the Third Reich, its paradoxes and its ultimate destruction.
Thoughts: Probably my book of the year. I read this in January/February time and was hooked. Boyd has a really accessible way of writing which means this doesn't feel like you're reading a history book. Her research and examples which she uses are brilliant and really bring to life this era. Highly recommend to anyone who wonders just how on earth the Third Reich happened and why nobody did anything until it was too late. My particular highlight? Learning that trips to concentration camps were highly recommended to visitors.
10. Keeping up with the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters - Philip Oltermann
Blurb: Inspired by his own experiences of both countries, Philip Oltermann looks at eight historical encounters between English and German people from the last two hundred years: Helmut Kohl tries to explain German cuisine to the Iron Lady, the Mini plays catch-up with the Volkswagen Beetle, and Joe Strummer has an unlikely brush with the Baader-Meinhof gang.
Thoughts: Again another thoroughly enjoyable autobiographical/German history book. I loved Oltermann's descriptions of going to a boy's school in England and how he mixed these in with the stories of the various encounters. If you're looking for a fun read on Anglo-German relations, would definitely recommend this.
11. Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times in Television - Louis Theroux
Blurb: In 1994 fledgling journalist Louis Theroux was given a one-off gig on Michael Moore's TV Nation, presenting a segment on apocalyptic religious sects. Gawky, socially awkward and totally unqualified, his first reaction to this exciting opportunity was to panic. But he'd always been drawn to off-beat characters, so maybe his enthusiasm would carry the day. Or, y'know, maybe it wouldn't...
In Gotta Get Theroux This, Louis takes the reader on a joyous journey from his anxiety-prone childhood to his unexpectedly successful career. Nervously accepting the BBC's offer of his own series, he went on to create an award-winning documentary style that has seen him immersed in the weird worlds of paranoid US militias and secretive pro-wrestlers, get under the skin of celebrities like Max Clifford and Chris Eubank and tackle gang culture in San Quentin prison. At the same time he was wondering whether the very qualities that make him good at documentaries might also make him bad at life.
As Louis woos his beautiful wife Nancy and learns how to be a father, he also dares to take on the powerful Church of Scientology. Just as challenging is the revelation that one of his old subjects, Jimmy Savile, was a secret sexual predator, prompting him to question our understanding of how evil takes place.
Thoughts: I am a total Louis Theroux fangirl and loved this. I loved learning about hidden details in many of the things he had done and really appreciated his thought process behind all of the Savile story. If you like Louis, you will definitely like this book.
12. Lethal White - Robert Galbraith
The less said about this the better. I had completely forgotten I had pre-ordered it and was most disappointed when it appeared. Story is quite frankly, bonkers.
12 books in 2020 is better than last year, but still disappointing. Total pages read: 3817. Total books given up on: 3.