A British francophile, author of several books on France, discovers today's two Germanies. A journalistic, anecdotal account, with emphasis on society and culture, not politics. A broad but superficial survey, weak on the past, strong on local color, regional differences, opinion polls and prevailing popular attitudes. A host of topics ranging from Christmas celebrations and industrial innovation in West Germany to the nationalist promotion of sports in East Germany. Ardagh believes that the Federal Republic is less lively but more democratic than Germany in earlier times: conventional wisdom, amiably and attractively illuminated by telling examples and statistics.