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A Concise History of Switzerland (Cambridge Concise Histories) [Paperback]

Clive H. Church , Randolph C. Head
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

23 May 2013 Cambridge Concise Histories
Despite its position at the heart of Europe and its quintessentially European nature, Switzerland's history is often overlooked within the English-speaking world. This comprehensive and engaging history of Switzerland traces the historical and cultural development of this fascinating but neglected European country from the end of the Dark Ages up to the present. The authors focus on the initial Confederacy of the Middle Ages; the religious divisions which threatened it after 1500 and its surprising survival amongst Europe's monarchies; the turmoil following the French Revolution and conquest, which continued until the Federal Constitution of 1848; the testing of the Swiss nation through the late nineteenth century and then two World Wars and the Depression of the 1930s; and the unparalleled economic and social growth and political success of the post-war era. The book concludes with a discussion of the contemporary challenges, often shared with neighbours, that shape the country today.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (23 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521143829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521143820
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'These two specialists of pre-modern and modern Switzerland offer a cohesive narrative that not only highlights the particularities of Swiss history, but also its deep interrelations with European and global developments. Regardless of their excellent knowledge of even the most recent Swiss historiography, Head and Church take up a stance of their own in appraising achievements and shortcomings of a small but economically important country.' Thomas Maissen, Chair of Early Modern History, University of Heidelberg and author of Geschichte der Schweiz

'With this concisely written and convincingly argued book, [Church and Head] have masterfully pulled off the task of bringing Switzerland back within the frame of European history. The book draws on the latest research to argue that despite some of the country's specificities and peculiarities, Switzerland has been located, since its early days, at the crossroads of European history, and has absorbed most of the continent's intellectual, cultural and political drifts and dynamics. With a flair for the details that illuminate larger trends and developments, and for the events that disclose the fundamental continuities and changes, the book is a must - not only for all who are fascinated by the history of this country that lies at the very heart of Europe, but also for all those who are interested in the big issues that have been churning up Europe for centuries …' Damir Skenderovic, University of Fribourg

'Highly recommended.' Choice

'… deserves a wide national [Swiss] and international audience.' Philippe Rogger, translated from H-Soz-u-Kult

Book Description

This comprehensive and engaging history of Switzerland traces the uncommon development of its society and state from its medieval origins to the present. The authors provide a fresh view that places Swiss history within a European context, adding a new perspective to the history of Europe as a whole.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very attractive book to look at, though a bit heavy due to the paper used, so you'll feel you can't take it with you when you go to Switzerland, but should digest it beforehand.
I had found it difficult to track down a serious overview. I wanted very much to know how the Swiss managed to come to terms with Napoleon in particular, after 1798, being an avid reader of Napoleonic doings from his point of view. From these I gathered that Napoleon saw the country as a rather steep series of crossroads, that he centralised the old Confederacy and was instrumental in giving the Swiss a new order, but also bringing war to their plural homelands.
It seems almost as if, after Napoleon's fall, Switzerland retained more of the idealism of the French Revolution than France itself, now alternately ruled by Ultras and Republicans and something in between. But it had had a hard time, with famine caused by the invaders, and innumerable conscripts lost in the Grande Armee.
However, it's not just this period which is well-covered and interestingly written. William Tell is shown to be a myth, but remains a symbol of the human condition. The problems of maintaining neutrality are clearly stated, and the country emerges as the 'Sonderfall Schweiz', rich and enviable. Comments on language are as usual in praise of multiple language abilities in all the people, which doesn't explain what one finds on a purely person-to-person level - that a Swiss-German speaker can't speak anything else, and a French-speaking citizen speaks beautiful clear French, but rarely anything else! An excellent chronology and a special vocabulary enhance the book, and I only wish it weren't so heavy, so that one could read it on the plane!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and interesting to read 3 Aug 2013
By Jamie Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
These authors have written an absorbing text on the development of Switzerland. The land the Swiss have created for themselves is simply fascinating and this book tells that story in a clear, easy-to-follow narrative. It answers questions, such as: How did a confederation of republics even manage to stay independent when flanked by belligerent monarchies? How did such a confederation even manage to develop in an era of feudal princes and bishoprics? This book adds a meaningful volume to the slim English-language record of scholarly work on Switzerland.
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