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The Conquest Of Nature

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The Conquest Of Nature

Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany



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The Conquest Of Nature by David Blackbourn
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There is widespread popular interest in the impact of great technological projects on the natural world and our relationship to it.Mastery over nature delivers real benefits.We are also fascinated by the epic quality of large-scale human interventions, just as we are by the history of aviation or, for example, Polar exploration.Yet at the same time, we recognize the cost. The Faustian bargain provides the most general framework for this book.Through an investigation into how the most fundamental element - water - was 'conquered' by draining fens and marshes to settle new populations, straightening the course of rivers, building high dams and exploiting hydro-electric power in Germany, Professor Blackbourn illustrates the gains as well as the human and environmental price paid. The Conquest of Nature is not, however, simply a history of technology, but a book about water and landscape in the German imagination.And as such, it is a book about the Third Reich.The Third Reich was heir to both of the major lines of development traced through the book: technological hubris on the one hand, conservationism on the other.Here, as in so many other spheres, the regime was riddled with contradictory impulses:the Nazis' insistence on a true 'German' landscape which led them to denounce certain forms of 'parasitical' development and to create protected areas, leading environmentalists to embrace the new regime, and their developmental dictatorship that stressed the 'will to mastery' over nature and trumpeted major water projects.

Author Biography

David Blackbourn has been Professor of History and Head of the Centre for European Studies at Harvard University since 1994.He is the author of The Fontana History of Germany in the 19th Century and Marpingen.
Release date NZ
January 15th, 2006
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Jonathan Cape Ltd
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