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The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond
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Published:
W. W. Norton & Company 2017
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Description

"An entertaining, turbocharged race among the high mountain passes of six alpine countries."—Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review


For centuries the Alps have been witness to the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers, and the dreams of engineers. In The Alps, Stephen O'Shea ("a graceful and passionate writer"—Washington Post) takes readers up and down these majestic mountains. Journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, he explores the reality behind historic events and reveals how the Alps have profoundly influenced culture and society.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/21/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780393634198
ASIN:
B01LYEMUW7
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Stephen O'Shea. (2017). The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Stephen O'Shea. 2017. The Alps: A Human History From Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Stephen O'Shea, The Alps: A Human History From Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond. W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Stephen O'Shea. The Alps: A Human History From Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond. W. W. Norton & Company, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:14:35
Date Updated:
Nov 22, 2020 02:57:42
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Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
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shortDescription

"An entertaining, turbocharged race among the high mountain passes of six alpine countries."—Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review

For centuries the Alps have been witness to the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers, and the dreams of engineers. In The Alps, Stephen O'Shea ("a graceful and passionate writer"—Washington Post) takes readers up and down these majestic mountains. Journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, he explores the reality behind historic events and reveals how the Alps have profoundly influenced culture and society.
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title
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fullDescription

"An entertaining, turbocharged race among the high mountain passes of six alpine countries."—Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review

For centuries the Alps have been witness to the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers, and the dreams of engineers. In The Alps, Stephen O'Shea ("a graceful and passionate writer"—Washington Post) takes readers up and down these majestic mountains. Journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, he explores the reality behind historic events and reveals how the Alps have profoundly influenced culture and society.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal
      • content: With [O'Shea's] playful approach to language and a willingness to put himself in uncomfortable situations... this clever meeting of history, literature, and travelogue is a treat for readers of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz.
      • premium: False
      • source: Heller McAlpin;NPR
      • content: O'Shea's quirky travelogue delivers an avalanche of entertaining facts and history.
      • premium: False
      • source: Matthew Price;Newsday
      • content: A droll travelogue that mixes history and wry authorial observations.... [O'Shea] is an amiable guide to the riches of this vast mountain range—culinary, linguistic, literary, cultural and geologic.
      • premium: False
      • source: Tony Lewis;Providence Journal
      • content: Fascinating, funny, and hugely informative... The Alps delivers one stunner after the other, accompanied by the kind of witty, informative banter that enhances our journey.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kim Ode;Minneapolis StarTribune
      • content: A delight.... O'Shea is an engaging writer.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jane Ciabattari;BBC
      • content: Enthralling...breezy and informative.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: [An] ebullient narrative.... This spirited jaunt into the peaks of Europe may inspire readers to pack their bags.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: Chock-full of colorful facts.... O'Shea is... a charming, ever-curious, and knowledgeable raconteur.
      • premium: False
      • source: Ross King, best-selling author of Brunelleschi's Dome
      • content: I would follow Stephen O'Shea anywhere he travels, and this book is a real adventure, both geographically and intellectually—an eloquent and engaging exploration.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 2, 2017
        In the summer of 2014, popular historian O’Shea (The Friar of Carcassonne) traversed six of Europe’s seven alpine countries (France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia; he missed Liechtenstein), aiming to share stories grounded in the cleavages of human geography that have long marked the region. The travelogue that is chock-full of colorful facts, such as that “going to Switzerland” is “European shorthand for seeking assisted suicide” and that a Chinese mining magnate created a “clone” of the Austrian village of Hallstatt in China, which led to an explosion of Chinese tourism in the original town. O’Shea is at his best when describing the architectural marvels of the places he visits, its literary trivia (for example, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1816 in a French hamlet near Mont Blanc during a period of inclement weather she endured with her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron), and such folkways as yodeling. Unfortunately, O’Shea’s approach to elucidating regional history can be rather too cursory, and his prose style aspires to the scale and grandeur of the Alps without reaching such heights. O’Shea comes across as a charming, ever-curious, and knowledgeable raconteur, but the book never seems sure of its purpose and suffers as a result. Maps.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 15, 2016
        A tour through the Alps reveals history, geology, anthropology, and local customs.As he frequently remarks, journalist and travel writer O'Shea (The Friar of Carcassonne: Revolt Against the Inquisition in the Last Days of the Cathars, 2011, etc.) is afraid of heights. Nevertheless, he decided to brave breathtakingly steep inclines and hairpin turns to investigate the dramatic political and cultural history of the French, German, Austrian, and Italian Alps. Traveling west to east, O'Shea drove a "souped-up" Renault Megane Sport, a "muscle car" distinctive enough to attract attention in Geneva, where he began his journey. The French Alps, he notes, gave birth to Romanticism: Rousseau ("Switzerland's most famous son") set his sensational novel about Abelard and Heloise along the shores of Lake Geneva, and Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein there. Besides abundant literary references throughout his ebullient narrative, the author traces the mountains' role in war and conquest: Hannibal, Napoleon, and Hitler all make appearances. In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, he visited a museum documenting the Nazi-dominated Winter Olympics of 1936. He also chronicles his visit to Heidiland, a cheesy theme park cashing in on the popularity of Joanna Spyri's children's book; discovers that the famed Saint Bernard rescue dogs did not carry kegs of brandy; relates famous mountaineers' "heart-stopping tales of danger courted and overcome"; and offers chilling descriptions of the "arduous and sinuous" routes he traversed. After being shrouded by fog, he saw "a horrific vista of yawning emptiness"; sheer cliffs and looming mountains "stretch to the heavens, gray rock and white snow in a stirring melodrama of nature." He stopped in quaint villages, where he ate local specialties, all recounted in detail. O'Shea occasionally punctuates his otherwise brisk narrative with jarring imagery: he sees the Matterhorn "sheathed in clouds, like a burlesque dancer teasing the tourists staring up at it"; and he insists on describing bikers in reference to national cuisine: "a bratwurst of German bikers," "a souffle" of French. This spirited jaunt into the peaks of Europe may inspire readers to pack their bags.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2016

        Traveling through the Alps in a sporty new Renault Megane, O'Shea (The Friar of Carcassonne) sets off on a 21st-century version of the European Grand Tour. But this journey isn't about the car, it's about how the geography of the Alps influences civilization and culture, past and present. Admittedly not fond of heights, O'Shea white-knuckles the steering wheel and navigates the winding roads and hairpin turns with trepidation, pushing onward past the Dutch tourists in their campers and the assorted motorcycle groups. The variety of languages and people interest him, as he weaves the historical events and the literature that have touched on the Alps. Locals delight in pointing out the inaccuracies in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, and Heidi has been transformed into a huge-eyed anime figure, to appeal to the foreign souvenir buyers. Diverse figures such as Hannibal, James Bond, and Adolph Hitler have all left their marks on these mountains. With his playful approach to language and a willingness to put himself in uncomfortable situations, the author travels the sometimes treacherous roads with delight. VERDICT This clever meeting of history, literature, and travelog is a treat for readers of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz.--Susan Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond
popularity
98
publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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