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The German-American Experience

By Don Heinrich Tolzmann

Published by Humanity Books, Amherst, New York, 1999, 480 pages, softcover.


The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to present this important book about the Germans in America. In the preface, author Don Heinrich Tolzmann states: "The German-American Experience aims to provide a basic outline of German-American history together with a discussion of the major influences German-Americans have exerted in American history since the seventeenth century. My need for publishing this work was the need for an up-to-date history of the German-American experience - for a work that would serve as a basic introduction, as well as a text."

Representing one-fourth of the population, German-Americans constitute the nation's largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. census, with well over 60 million people claiming German heritage. In twenty-six states, they comprise at least 20 percent of the population, and in five states they number more than 50 percent--important statistics in understanding the role played by German-Americans in U.S. History.

The German-American Experience is the most up-to-date and comprehensive work on German-Americans. Don Heinrich Tolzmann records the essential facts in the history of this group, from its first U.S. settlements in the seventeenth century to the present. Beginning with "The Age of Discovery," this volume explores the earliest contacts between America and Germany, immigration and settlement patterns of Germans, foundations of German-American community life, their major involvement in the American Revolution, and the role German-Americans played in our Civil War. Both world wars are chronicled, including anti-German hysteria and sentiment, and the internment of German-Americans. The revival of German heritage and the renaissance of German-American ethnicity since the 1970s is surveyed, along with recent events, including the impact of German unification and the 1990 census.

Tolzmann also analyzes German-American influences on agriculture, industry, religion, education, music, art and architecture, politics, military service, journalism, literature, language, and linguistics. Included is a commentary on prominent German-Americans, German names, sister cities, historical statistics, and much more. Highly entertaining and informative, this book is a must for those interested in their German heritage or American history in general.

The author covers the immigration and experiences of many German groups including the Germans from Russia on the central and northern plains. Tolzmann writes of the rural communities, World War I and World War II, and immigration patterns.

The book includes a bibliography, maps, photographs, a chronology, German place names in the United States, sister-city relationships, census data for 1790-1990, and a detailed index.

Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann is an award-winning writer and curator of the German-Americana Collection and director of the German-American Studies Program at the University of Cincinnati. He is the recipient of the Friendship Award of the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the country's Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz). Dr. Tolzmann serves as president of the Society of German-American Studies.

Related Articles:

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Review of the book by Gert Niers


The German-American Experience

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