Monday, April 2, 2007

PL 15/07: Geography of Germany

Filed under: books — plinius @ 6:58 am

hochofen.jpgThe most enjoyable books are those that change my life. I do not require total turnabouts, but I like texts that open new doors and windows in the gritty walls of reality.

Mystery books

For the last five or six years I’ve been an eager reader of books from the WBG – or Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Most of them I order from their substantial catalogue, but once a year they send me a package with three books – which they choose – at a very favorable price. A set of “mystery books”, so to speak.

This year I got Claudia Bringer-von der Heydes excellent book on Die literarische Welt des Mittelalters – which I finished two weeks ago; a collection of articles on Germanische Herrscher, by Frank M. Ausbüttel (on the waiting list); and finally a hefty volume of geography.

A fresh look at geography

Geographie Deutschlands is a door opener. It is a big and heavy and serious read – but it reveals a new and fresh way of looking at geography. At school, geography was taught as an accumulation of facts. Here, it is clearly a complex and highly developed science.

The book takes the environment – and its degradation – very seriously. It emphasizes change. It goes deeply into geology – from plate tectonics to soil formation – and shows how natural and human processes shape our physical environment. Historical geography (including archaeology) is fully integrated.

At the moment I am half-way, and I look forward to the landscapes that remain.


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