The modern idea of 'mastery' over nature always had its critics, whether their motives were aesthetic, religious or environmentalist. By investigating how the most fundamental element - water - was 'conquered' by draining fens and marshes, straightening the courses of rivers, building high dams and exploiting hydro-electric power, The Conquest of Nature explores how over the last 250 years, the German people have shaped their natural environment and how the landscapes they created took a powerful hold on the German imagination.
From Frederick the Great of Prussia to Johann Gottfried Tulla, 'the man who tamed the wild Rhine' in the nineteenth century to Otto Intze, 'master dambuilder' of the years around 1900, to the Nazis who set out to colonise 'living space' in the East, this groundbreaking study shows that while mastery over nature delivers undoubted benefits, it has often come at a tremendous cost to both the natural environment and human life.
Startlingly original... This is history at its most synoptic, weaving together disparate themes in a counterpoint of science and aesthetics, race and reclamation, hydrology and mythology -- Daniel Johnson Sunday Times This book offers a fresh insight into this passage of German history and will interest engineers, ecologists, economists, politicians and historians alike Bookends Sublimely good... Blackbourn has found an original and suggestive way into the history of both Germany's aggrandisement and its humility... far more than a good book on an out-of-the-way subject The Economist David Blackbourn has written an entertainingly original history, rich in insights into man and nature and the German - in fact, the European - mind -- Mark Kurlansky, Bestselling Author Of Cod Brilliantly conceived, David Blackbourn's thought-provoking exploration of the ambivalence built into past attempts to exploit the environment offers a wholly novel approach to understanding modern German history. His book is a tour de force in historical writing -- Ian Kershaw