Germany: 2000 Years, Volumes I & II.
I read the first volume of this history back in 1976, as part of my university studies when I was living in Germany. Because it lost nothing in the telling, I returned to the book on and off during the intervening years, and I was pleased to find a copy of the second volume when I began to research the Great War.
Reinhardt takes a revisionist line (as opposed to Fischer‘s unvarnished truth) in discussing Germany’s 1914 – 1918 war of conquest; notably, he omits any reference to Germany’s “Blank Checque” relationship with Austria-Hungary. He also takes the Kaiser’s manipulative remarks at face value, simply disregarding what is known about the emperor’s inflammatory marginalia on official documents, but ultimately he can’t prevent the facts about Germany’s war guilt from leaking out.
The two books comprise a continuous whole, covering Germanic cultural and political history since antiquity. Read Volume I to get an understanding of how everything that’s known to have gone before laid the deepest foundations of the philosophy that led to the Great War. Read only Part VI in Volume II if all you want is the prelude to the the First World War, and its immediate aftermath.
The first volume contains a table of contents for the second, and the second volume contains the bibliography and index for the set.
Recommended, with a grain of salt.