The Alps

The Alps: A Cultural History

This book was published in 2006 in Signal Books’ Landscapes of the Imagination series; an American edition of the book was also published by Oxford University Press (USA).

The book looks at the geological, social, economic and political history of the Alpine regions of Europe; at the writers, composers, artists and film-makers who have been inspired by the mountains; at the role of folklore and mythology in the Alps, from traditional mountain cultures to the veneration of the Alps by the Nazis; and at the tourism scene in the Alps, from the first intrepid eighteenth century travellers through to the mass tourism of modern times.

The Alps
The Königsee in the Bavarian Alps

Among the personalities featured are pioneers in geology such as Louis Agassiz and James Forbes, mountaineers such as Edward Whymper and Heinrich Harrer, historical figures from Julius Caesar to Hitler and Mussolini, travel pioneers such as Thomas Cook and Henry Lunn, and writers as varied as Charles Dickens, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Evelyn, Mark Twain, Herman Hess, Lord Byron, Anita Brookner and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a pioneer skier in Davos.

The book covers all seven Alpine countries, from the French Alps in the west to the Julian Alps of Slovenia in the east, along with the Alpine regions of Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein and Germany.

Photographs taken during the research for the book, with links to the relevant pages in the book, can be seen here; while a sample of the text can be read by following the link below.

The book can be purchased from Amazon in the UK or USA, or from the Signal Books website (where there is also more information about the book), via these links:

Amazon/Alps Cultural History

Signal Books

Click The Chateau to read a sample of the text, which relates to the Château de Chillon on the shores of Lake Geneva, a place rich in history and literary heritage.