A hefty tome with exquisite contents

Georg Kreis (ed.): “Die Geschichte der Schweiz”; ?Schwabe Verlag Basel 2014; 645 pages, CHF 139

It is a weighty book in every sense. “Die Geschichte der Schweiz” (The History of Switzerland) weighs two and a half kilograms and is generally regarded as the reference work for the coming decades. Under the leadership of Basel historian Georg Kreis, a team of authors made up of leading academics from all over Switzerland presents the history of the nation, taking account of the latest developments in research. The outcome is a work (unfortunately only in German) that meets many requirements. It serves as a work of reference and teaching aid for teachers and students, but is also a very accessible book for a general readership which largely avoids specialist jargon and, where such terms are absolutely necessary, they are explained concisely in a glossary. 

The book has a chronological structure and focuses on traditional political history without neglecting other approaches (social and economic history, women’s history, etc.). Twenty-two transversal themes are also interspersed as essays, such as “family and relatives”, “foreigners in Switzerland”, “neutrality and neutralities”, “Alps and tourism” and “The Swiss army 1803 to 2011”. The design quality is outstanding: the illustrations, maps and graphics are first-class and provide a wealth of additional information. They also break up the text, give the comprehensive tome a light touch and invite readers to profitably plunge into the book at any page. JM

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