The Conquest Of Nature

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The Conpursuit of Nature: Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany type of (review)

pp. 216-217 Review
The Conpursuit of Nature: Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany. By David Blackbourn. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. Pp. xii+466. $29.95.

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After reading into the brand-new literature on North America’s western rivers while resident at Stanford College in the at an early stage 1990s, David Blackbourn made a decision to go back to product elements of German background. Here, he investientrances the hubris of Germans that smust overcome nature and create brand-new landscapes. Assessing tasks to drain swamps and regulate rivers provides Blackbourne with a way of investigating the exercise of power, not least bereason the poorest and also weakest were the losers. In an endmuch less trip forward, designers and also state officials preserved promising brand-new remedies to overcome damage led to by older services. In the procedure, they created more destructive (even if less frequent) floods and inevitably significant pollution. In the instance of dams, aesthetics offered no injunction against building brand-new ones, only ideas about exactly how to improve nature.

During the 1700s, Prussians drained swamps, particularly alengthy the Oder. The military played a far-reaching role, as did colonization. In the at an early stage part of the 1800s, changes wrought to the Rhine below Basel opened up up land also for cultivation but also began to precipitate a dead river. Drainage provided new opportunities for opening up territory approximately Wilhelmshaven to provide Prussia via a port on the North Sea, yet “progress” was boosting air pollution and also environmental degradation. Then dam building carries the story from the 1880s to World War II, as engineers regularized the flow of rivers for commercial and also metropolitan purposes, reservoirs were produced, and also people were disinserted. In the late 1930s and also at an early stage 1940s, the Nazi routine occurred plans for revising nature in areas to the east. Although these were never carried out completely, Germans who had actually fled from the east after the battle remembered a once-natural landscape that had actually been operated over as component of permanent initiatives to dominate nature. Blackbourn ends his narrative with the rise of environmentalism.

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Although investigating product society gives a great emphasis for reevaluating German background, Blackbourn conceives of technology as a sort of rationalizing pressure that one can either support or oppose. He fits competing interests into only 2 categories: winners and losers. His agents displayed either factor or romance, and also also a lot hubris supposed too a lot support. Still, Blackbourn notes that plans for imposing order on nature, and also their implementation, were not the same almost everywhere. Alengthy the Oder, about Wilhelmshaven, and in recently dominated territories in the time of World War II, tright here was considerable latitude. In basic, but, Gerguy hubris could not gain credibility bereason Germale dams did not fail.

Merely identifying winners and losers and stressing hubris do not explain various courses of development, as Blackbourn appears to indicate. However, his book have to be advantageous to anyone interested in environmental problems and the ways in which Germans thought around nature as they sought modernization.


Edmund N. Todd

Dr. Todd writes about large technological devices and also teaches the background of science and also modern technology at the College of New Haven.