Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Alps by Andrew Beattie

I was looking for a history of Switzerland and found this book. My mother’s family was English and there are an incredible number of books on English history and on England. My father’s family is Swiss and books on Switzerland, I find, are few and far between.

This book is divided into four sections of Landscape, History, Imagination, Visitors. The thing that struck me about this book was the Visitors section. Mostly the “visitors” were British and most were from the 19th and 20th century. The British visitors certainly thought very little of the Swiss. They mostly loved to go to Switzerland because the fine scenery and part of the “scenery” was the Swiss who were looked upon as rubes or country bumpkins.

This book talks a bit about history. However, it is the History of the Alps, rather than just about Switzerland that I wanted. However, what I was particularly looking for was the development of Switzerland as a democratic nation. I figured that democracy must be bred into me with an English mother and a Swiss father. I do know how democracy got going in England, but this book is silent on what I would have thought to be a very important subject.

I do know that my family left Switzerland in the late 1800’s because financial difficulties and want to start a new life in Canada. They were also part of a small protestant group called Evangelical Association. Although, I must admit that some members of the family, especially, a son from my Grand grandfather’s first wife said they were Lutheran.

It is interesting that when Beattie has a very short section on actual history, he spends time on talking about William Tell. You might remember the main part of the story when Tell shoots an apple off the head of his son. The whole point to this section to tell us why it is all a fiction and this episode never happened.

All the sites that talk about this book give the same blurb. “The Alps are Europe's highest mountain range: their broad arc stretches right across the center of the continent, encompassing a wide range of traditions and cultures. Andrew Beattie explores the turbulent past and vibrant present of this landscape, where early pioneers of tourism, mountaineering, and scientific research, along with the enduring legacies of historical regimes from the Romans to the Nazis, have all left their mark.”

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Beattie. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.