This isn’t a big surprise as Neil MacGregor, when he was Director of the British Museum, organized the exhibition called German: Memories of a Nation. I wrote a sniffy report on it in an earlier post. There are definitely good things in the book, however, and so in theory one could read about them or look at the maps at leisure – they seemed to me very diverse and complex, and so unsuitable for being absorbed in the course of viewing an exhibition. The book will be coming out in paperback on April 7.
There’s a video of the exhibition on this British Museum page, showing MacGregor’s theme that when the two Germanies were united 25 years ago, they had no shared history, but shared memories. A map shows over 200 currencies representing separated states, each with its own legal system, army etc. There was also a radio series of 15-minute programmes – they can be downloaded as podcasts indefinitely.
I was aware that MacGregor had studied modern languages at Oxford, but Wikipedia lists his alma mater as New College Oxford, École Normale Supérieure, University of Edinburgh and Courtauld Institute of Art – he has even more almae matres or alma maters than I have (KCL, College of Law, Institute of Education). He was a law student at Edinburgh and was called to the Bar in 1972, and to crown it all:
on a Courtauld Institute (University of London) summer school in Bavaria, the Courtauld’s director Anthony Blunt spotted MacGregor and persuaded him to take a master’s degree under his supervision. Blunt later considered MacGregor “the most brilliant pupil he ever taught”.