Although many works tackle specific sections of German history, some handle the country thoughout its entire existence. The following is my selection of the top five. Books relating to the period 1806 - 1918
and 1918 - 1939
can be found via the relevant links.
Balfour's book takes the 'long view' of German history, tracing the formation of this modern nation through the medieval period. In doing so, the author seeks to answer questions about recent German history, including the country's role in both World Wars and the European Union. The resulting volume will be of interest to a wide range of readers.
With this work Fulbrook and Breuilly have produced a marvelous textbook for the mid to higher level student (and, of course, any interested non-students!) All the major themes are covered with clarity and flair, while tables, maps and other material provide an informative and attractive content. Longstanding ideas on German history are also debated.
A fairly detailed account by William Carr, this book covers almost the whole period of Germany's existence as a country, using the Congress if Vienna (which redrew Europe in the aftermath of Napoleon's Empire) and the anti-Soviet revolution of the late 1980's as bookends. A History of Germany has become one of the standard student textbooks. Try and get the new fourth edition.
This book should fascinate anyone with a basic knowledge of Germany, for it presents twelve essays, each of which outline a different historical development or controversy regarding the country. As expected, the Holocaust and economics feature, but so do other themes, and those who believe that history is a clear-cut subject will be surprised. The essays concern the era 1870 - 1945.
This, the third and final volume of the 'New Social and Economic History' of Germany, covers the period 1800 until today. A wide variety of themes are covered in a number of ways, from the standard 'names and date' to the more thematic. Volume's 1 (1450-1630) and 2 (1630 - 1800) are also available.