Cover: Imagining the Nation in Nature: Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885–1945, from Harvard University PressCover: Imagining the Nation in Nature in HARDCOVER

Imagining the Nation in Nature

Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885–1945

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$92.00 • £80.95 • €83.95

ISBN 9780674010703

Publication Date: 02/17/2004


342 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

11 halftones, 1 map


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One of the strengths of Thomas Lekan’s book on German landscape preservation movements is that it notes the country’s regional and historical diversity. It demonstrates as well the tension and conflicts regarding the racial and mystical approach to landscapes, which occurred even during the height of the Nazi era. No simple line of völkisch continuity, but a twisted road through complexity, is offered in this insightful text… The book challenges the viewpoint that German landscape preservationists were antimodern. It also undercuts claims about the origins of present environmental policies emerging during the Nazi era.—Dieter K. Buse, H-Net Reviews

Writing squarely within the idiom of the ‘invented tradition’ and the ‘imagined nation,’ Thomas Lekan argues that in the wake of belated unification and at a time of rapid industrialization, the German landscape came to be seen as a touchstone of national identity. He questions the idea that those engaged in landscape preservation were simply ‘antimodern,’ and he challenges both scholars who have seen a straightforward continuity from pre-1933 preservationist sentiment to Nazism and those who have made exaggerated claims for the Third Reich as the progenitor of modern green politics. This is a welcome contribution to the literature on local and national identity, joining works by Celia Applegate and Alon Confino, and on the environmental history of modern Germany. Both scholarly and original, Imagining the Nation in Nature is an impressive achievement.—David Blackbourn, Harvard University

This important and timely book contributes to our understanding of German identity as well as to modern concepts of environmentalism and nature. Lekan’s valuable contribution elucidates the modern, technocratic, and therapeutic vision of preservation that linked Weimar and the Third Reich. His analysis of Nazi bio-nature is significant and thought-provoking.—Alon Confino, University of Virginia

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