The top ten non-fiction books along with a personal recommendation

Presented every month by suddeutsche zeitung, norddeutscher rundfunk, buchjournal, borsenblatt and telepolis. (the jury )

John fried

Dies irae

A history of the end of the world

"Sacco di roma", tambora, 9/11, tsunami – the history of the world is full of events, in the context of which the threat of the end of the world has always been mentioned. End time fears, however, are a special phenomenon of the occidental, christian culture. This book is the first comprehensive history of the ideas of the apocalypse. From the biblical prophets to today’s newspapers, christian culture is characterized by the belief in an inexorable end. Johannes fried spans the arc of his narrative from pre-christian antiquity through the age of enlightenment to the most recent present. Intellectual history as well as popular culture and science offer an inexhaustible variety of fascinating examples. It turns out that the visions of the end times are not cursed with advancing scientific knowledge – rather, they are deeply rooted in our unconscious worldview and are still relevant today.

C. H. Beck verlag, 352 pages, € 26.95

Niall ferguson


The idealist 1923 – 1968

He was revered and reviled like no other. Some celebrated him as an indispensable man in the background, advisor to all u.S. Presidents from kennedy to obama, while others condemned him as a cynical realpolitik politician. Henry kissinger, born in 1923, is one of the most important and controversial statesmen of our time. It is only against the background of his childhood as a jew in nazi germany, as a penniless immigrant in new york, as a u.S. Soldier in world war ii, or as a student of history at harvard and professor of international politics in washington, that kissinger’s rise to become a master of diplomacy and a brilliant strategist of world politics can be understood. Ferguson makes clear how much kissinger’s thinking is rooted in the philosophy of idealism and follows ethical mabstats. His biography is embedded in a rough narrative of american history during the cold war, of which kissinger was one of the main actors. Ferguson praises kissinger as a great statesman and historical thinker, but also highlights the darker side of his protagonist. Translated from english by michael bayer and werner roller.

Propylaen verlag, 1120 pages, € 49,00

Heinz bude

The feeling of the world

non-fiction book of the month: may 2016

On the power of mood

What is the mood? Not so good. There is no question of confidence. We feel threatened, we want to protect what we have achieved. Who knows what the future will bring? For heinz bude, moods are the feelings of society. He analyzes how they are created, how they can be influenced, but also how they can be overturned. Moods determine how we perceive the world, which is why it is so important for politicians to know the mood of the electorate. Heinz bude shows why moods often decide more than arguments in politics. Moods are vague, volatile and unpredictable. But if you want to understand how our democracy works, you have to know about its power over people.

Hanser publishing house, 141 pages, €18,90

Agnes heller

The world of prejudice

History and foundations for the human and the inhuman

Agnes heller reaches back to antiquity to show the circumstances under which prejudices can arise. She asks about social and psychological preconditions and analyzes the basic prejudices of modernity: racial, ethnic and religious prejudices, class prejudices, prejudices against women and sexual prejudices. From socrates to shakespeare, from leibniz to weber to foucault and luhmann, agnes heller shows us what she personally experienced in the 20th century. And 21. Century: a whole cosmos of prejudices. Hg. By the sir peter ustinov institute for the study and combat of prejudice.

Edition konturen, 161 pages, € 24,00

Cees nooteboom

Journeys to hieronymus bosch

A gloomy premonition

In spring 2016, the world celebrates the 500th anniversary of the. Anniversary of the death of hieronymus bosch (c. 1450-1516). For this occasion, the prado in madrid asked bosch’s compatriot, the writer cees nooteboom, to collaborate on a documentary about this most mysterious painter of the early modern period. And so nooteboom traveled to lisbon, ghent, rotterdam, madrid, and ‘s-hertogenbosch to seek a new encounter with the master with whom he has been familiar since his student days 60 years ago. And yet, like all of us, he must remain a stranger in ever new ways, because his surreal fantasies about animal-headed people and grotesque monsters, who do their strange mischief between holle and paradise, evoke amazement and bewilderment at the same time. In his brilliant text, nooteboom describes his attempts to approach seven of bosch’s paintings between personal reflection, art-historical exegesis and findings in the restoration studio. Translated by helga von beuningen.

Publisher schirmer mosel, 80 pages, 67 color illustrations, € 29,80

Jan philipp reemtsma

What does it mean: to interpret a literary text??

Prerequisites and implications of talking about literature

What does it actually mean: to interpret a literary text?? What is talking about literature an activity at all?? What do you have to deal with when you deal with literary quality?? Does the talk of "death of the author" any sense – and is literature about something other than beauty?? In this book, jan philipp reemtsma outlines a radical theory of reading literacy. Anyone who knows the literary scholar jan philipp reemtsma knows that his judgments about texts – whether they come from heinrich von kleist or stephen king – are one thing above all: never boring. They show not only by the way, what, how and why one should read. They also combine theory and hermeneutic practice, e and u, german studies, philosophy and polemics.

C. H. Beck verlag, 316 pages, € 24.95

Svenja flabpohler


On dealing with guilt

To forgive is to forgive according to the word: renunciation of retribution. Whoever forgives, does not blame others for his own suffering, does not seek revenge or legal satisfaction, but lets it go. But how is such a letting go possible, which is neither just nor economical nor logical?? Let the bad be forgiven? Does forgiveness lead to healing, even reward – or does it happen beyond all purpose?? Based on her own experiences, philosopher svenja flabpohler explores the conditions under which a debt cut can succeed in a moral sense. She talks to people who, in the face of the most serious debts, are faced with the urgent question of forgiveness, and looks for answers in philosophy.

Deutsche verlags-anstalt, 224 pages, € 17,99

David graeber


The utopia of rules

We all hate burocrats. We cannot believe that we have to spend a large part of our lives filling out forms. But at the same time, faith in bureaucracy sustains our hope for efficiency, transparency and justice. In the digital age, the desire for order is growing, and at the same time the power of bureaucracies over each and every one of us is increasing. They do not make our societies transparent and efficient, but serve elitist group interests. For capitalism and bureaucracy have entered into a covenantal pact and have been able to rub the world into the abyss. Translated by hans freundl and henning dedekind.

Publisher klett-cotta, 329 pages, € 22.95

Henri lefebvre

The right to the city

"Right to the city" is more than the individual freedom to access urban resources. It is the right to a renewed urban life. In view of the social problems in the desolate high-rise suburbs and other consequences of rapid urban growth after the second world war, lefebvre noted as early as the 1960s that the process of urbanization was accompanied by a loss of the city as a place of creative creation, in favor of a purely industrial logic of exploitation. He does not, however, postulate a turning away from the city – for example, to the american middle-class suburbs that were emerging at the same time – but identifies in the city an enormous potential that can lead to an emancipated urban society. The right to the city is a societal right to encounter, participation, exchange, the rough party and a collectively designed and used urban space. Translated from the french by birgit althaler.

Edition nautilus, nautilus pamphlet, 224 pages, € 18.00

Harald meller / michael schefzik (editors)


An archaological search for traces

47 dead bodies in a mass grave – these are the only victims found so far from one of the most costly battles of the 30-year war. They are among the 6500 victims, among them the swedish king gustav ii. Adolf, who lost his life in lutzen near leipzig in 1632. Excavated in the earth block, prepared in the laboratory and examined with the most modern bioarchaological methods, the grave is the focus of the special exhibition. But since when do we know "war"? Based on the findings of lutzen, the origins of this phenomenon are traced using archaeological methods. Aggression and violence are undoubtedly part of our nature, but we can only speak of real warlike conflicts from the neolithic age onwards, i.E. The time when man settled down.

Theiss verlag, 488 pages, € 39,95

Special recommendation of the month may by jacques schuster:

Michael gamper

The rough man

History of a political phantasm

Michael gamper deals with a figure who developed massive power-political significance in the long 19th century and was significant for the history of the social imaginary of this epoch. Century and was significant for the history of the social imaginary of this epoch: the"rude man", as it was embodied above all by napoleon, demanded by schleiermacher and described by treitschke. This book is not about retelling the event history of the "coarse man" to rehabilitate. Rather, gamper shows how, in the early modern period, a political savior figure could emerge from traditional ancient ideas, idealistic concepts, innovative power strategies, and literary fictions, who was trusted to produce a social whole under the conditions of post-revolutionary modernity.

Wallstein verlag, 432 pages, € 29.90

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