Award-winning historian Steven Ozment gives us the fullest portrait possible of the German nation, holding a mirror up to an entire civilization- one that has been alternately Western Europe's most successful and most perilous. Taking us from the tribes of the Roman Empire and the medieval dynasties to the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification, Ozment shows that the Germans are a people who desire national unity yet have kept themselves from it by aligning with autocratic territorial governments and regional cultures. From Luther, Kant, Goethe, and Beethoven to Marx, Einstein and Hitler, the country's leading figures have always tried to become more than ordinary mortals. In fact, Germans living centuries apart have shared in different ways a common defining experience: a convergence of external provocation and wounded pride, and an ability to exercise great power in response to both. Ozment brilliantly captures the soul of a nation that is at once ordered and chaotic, disciplined and obsessive, proud and uncertain.