In 1976 Walter Scheel, then Federal President, invited a well-known German historian to study the first phase of the social-liberal coalition, headed by Brandt and Scheel, 1969-1974. Baring was installed in the presidential residence and given access to people and papers. The new coalition had marked an historic change, and Baring's book, a highly controversial bestseller in Germany, gives a fascinating account of the substance and atmosphere of German politics in those years, with great emphasis on Ostpolitik. It is also the story of the maturing of Brandt, "this big boy," as a friendly critic liked to call him before 1969. Written with enviable dexterity, psychological acumen, grasp of politics and remarkable self-confidence, Baring's account becomes indispensable reading, despite its unconvincing partisanship for and against some of the chief actors.