HISTORY

Germany: A Nation in Its Time: Before, During, and After Nationalism, 1500–2000

Liveright. Mar. 2020. 672p. ISBN 9780871404664. $39.95. HIST
COPY ISBN
Rather than focusing on politics, diplomacy, and nationalism as a lens through which to understand the origins of the German nation, Smith (history, Vanderbilt Univ.) considers the role of maps in defining German land and identity between 1500 and 2000. Many of these maps do not describe a rigidly defined border to Germany; Smith reminds readers that prior to unification (1871), many inhabitants identified themselves by their region or principality, not by ethnic nationality. After the devastation of the Thirty Years War (1618–48), some states, such as Prussia and Austria, became increasingly militarized. In the 19th century, Germany was better known for its Romantic writers than for its armed forces. But after 1918, Smith asserts, Germany struggled to justify the devastating losses of World War I, which opened the door to a new type of racialized, militant nationalism that made the Holocaust possible.
VERDICT Smith rejects the notion that German history is the story of militant nationalism marching toward genocide, and instead focuses on cartographers intellectuals who, prior to 1918, often described the landscape and ethnography of Germany in pacifistic terms. This new perspective on German history should be welcomed by all libraries.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month