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A Concise History of Switzerland


  • 54 b/w illus. 3 maps
  • Page extent: 339 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.59 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 949.4
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: DQ54 .C47 2013
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Switzerland--History
    • HISTORY / Europe / General--bisacsh

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521194440)

Despite its position at the heart of Europe and its quintessentially European nature, Switzerland's history is often overlooked within the English-speaking world. This comprehensive and engaging history of Switzerland traces the historical and cultural development of this fascinating but neglected European country from the end of the Dark Ages up to the present. The authors focus on the initial Confederacy of the Middle Ages; the religious divisions which threatened it after 1500 and its surprising survival amongst Europe's monarchies; the turmoil following the French Revolution and conquest, which continued until the Federal Constitution of 1848; the testing of the Swiss nation through the late nineteenth century and then two World Wars and the Depression of the 1930s; and the unparalleled economic and social growth and political success of the post-war era. The book concludes with a discussion of the contemporary challenges, often shared with neighbours, that shape the country today.

• Most comprehensive English-language account of Switzerland's history yet, bringing the story right up to the present day • Introduces readers to the key themes that have shaped Switzerland's complex history • Consistently places Swiss history in the wider context of Europe as a whole, avoiding the limitations of viewing Switzerland as a 'special case'


List of illustrations; List of figures; List of maps; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction: making the Swiss: time, myth and history; 1. Before Switzerland: lordship, communities and crises, c.1000–1386; 2. Creating the Swiss Confederacy, 1386–1520; 3. A divided Switzerland in Reformation Europe, 1515–1713; 4. The Ancien Regime, 1713–1798; 5. Revolution and contention, 1798–1848; 6. Forging the new nation, 1848–1914; 7. The shocks of war, 1914–1950; 8. The Sonderfall years, 1950–1990; 9. Since 1989: a return to normality?; Chronology; Glossary; Further reading; Index.


'These two specialists of pre-modern and modern Switzerland offer a cohesive narrative that not only highlights the particularities of Swiss history, but also its deep interrelations with European and global developments. Regardless of their excellent knowledge of even the most recent Swiss historiography, Head and Church take up a stance of their own in appraising achievements and shortcomings of a small but economically important country.' Thomas Maissen, Chair of Early Modern History, University of Heidelberg and author of Geschichte der Schweiz

'With this concisely written and convincingly argued book, [Church and Head] have masterfully pulled off the task of bringing Switzerland back within the frame of European history. The book draws on the latest research to argue that despite some of the country's specificities and peculiarities, Switzerland has been located, since its early days, at the crossroads of European history, and has absorbed most of the continent's intellectual, cultural and political drifts and dynamics. With a flair for the details that illuminate larger trends and developments, and for the events that disclose the fundamental continuities and changes, the book is a must - not only for all who are fascinated by the history of this country that lies at the very heart of Europe, but also for all those who are interested in the big issues that have been churning up Europe for centuries …' Damir Skenderovic, University of Fribourg

'The authors' complementary specialties in early modern and contemporary European history make the book unusually well balanced between the remote and recent past … A clear, engaging synthesis appropriate for a wide variety of readers … Highly recommended.' Choice

'… deserves a wide national [Swiss] and international audience.' Philippe Rogger, translated from H-Soz-u-Kult

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