Review: Why the Germans Do it Better, by John Kampfner

First of all, they don’t. It’s a provocative title for a book, but ultimately a silly one — and it’s not what the book is really about. John Kampfner offers a wide-ranging view of Germany today (and by today, I really mean today: the book was updated earlier this year). When he makes the case that Germany does some things better, he means that in comparison to the UK. Kampfner is a critic of Brexit and Boris Johnson (and rightly so) and yes, Germany’s continued support for the European project is better than Britain’s withdrawal from it, and Angela Merkel is a far more serious political leader than Johnson. But on the rare occasion that he compares Germany to other European countries (e.g. the Nordic countries), it’s not always clear that Germany is doing anything better. And while Kampfner doesn’t ignore the rise of xenophobia, racism and even anti-Semitism in Germany today, I don’t think he places enough emphasis on it. Still, it’s a very well-written and informative book, but it would have served better by a different title.