Traces the rise of the German nation through the development of water and landscape. David Blackbourn begins his environmental history in the mid-1700s, with Frederick the Great, who attempted – by importing the great scientific minds of the West and by harnessing the power of his army – to transform the uninhabitable marshlands of his scattered kingdom into a modern state. Chronicling the great engineering projects that reshaped the mighty Rhine, the emergence of an ambitious German navy, and the development of hydroelectric power to fuel Germany's convulsive industrial growth before World War I, Blackbourn goes on to show how Nazi racial policies rested on German ideas of mastery of the natural world.
David Blackbourn is Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1994. He is the author of The Fontana History of Germany 1780- 1918: The Long Nineteenth Century and Marpingen.