Maps meet Frankenstein

Maps meet Frankenstein

The re-making of maps as Frankenstein collage. How much havoc has torn harmony apart with such unrelated stitchings together? ‘It is an odd accident that Mary Shelley should have been writing Frankenstein just as Prussia was settling into its new territories – a...
Futility worth reading about

Futility worth reading about

I like the idea that something about futility is written so splendidly that it’s worth reading before you give up on all human pretensions.   If I get around to it, I’ll review it here. ‘My favourite piece of prose is Sir Thomas Browne’s magnificently resigned...
Dietrich as satellite dish

Dietrich as satellite dish

One of the best film reviews I’ve ever read, so bewitching.   I must seek out The Scarlet Empress, Dietrich as Catherine the Great give or take some theatrical liberties, not least in the out of control costume department. ‘The movie is so vivid and brutal that it...
Free trade and British decency

Free trade and British decency

Winder breezily lobs perspective into cosy schoolyard us-and-them memories.   Britain had a role in triggering the first world war (among others), summed up in one emissary’s snooty crassness; a caution against driving people to sprint into the arms of war faster than...
The Thirty Years War in thirty seconds

The Thirty Years War in thirty seconds

Winder has a pithiness about him that condenses decades of internecine squabbling and violence into a snappy summary of the consequences. ‘All the labyrinthine details of the fighting hold their distressing interest because of this futility: nobody gets what they want...
Germania through Roman eyes

Germania through Roman eyes

Winder’s Germania shows how far we, and Hollywood, view ancient Germany through the eyes of ancient Rome, a boggy and terrifying ‘light-deprived nightmare’, distilled in the film Gladiator with the Roman confrontation of the ‘fog-bound...
Beer mats and memory

Beer mats and memory

I wish more writers would show their personal connection to their subjects. This warmth and quirk does nothing to detract from the rigour and insight of Winder’s writing; on the contrary, it makes it more memorable.   Gustavus Adolphus can never be a mere ‘King of...
Germany does do some great food

Germany does do some great food

Winder has a passionate attachment to Germany – nobody could have embraced its vast history and culture with such easy mastery without loving the place.   Yet he sometimes seems unsure how that came about, and he can’t deny the climatic, cultural and culinary...
Wine and conveyor belts

Wine and conveyor belts

There must be a good study of wine in European trade and war.   England’s sometime claim to half of France was curiously biased towards the finest wine-growing regions, until the French squeezed them into Calais, at which point they gave up.   And we’ve all seen...

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