van der Vleuten, Erik, and Arne Kaijser, eds., 2006, vii + 335pp., illus.
Politicians, businessmen, engineers, and the military have long recognized, both in peace and war, the pivotal role of transnational infrastructures. Historians, on the other hand, have so far failed to describe and analyze this issue. This book considers the building of transnational networks of railways, telegraphs, highways, and power lines as a window on the shaping of contemporary Europe. It dismisses accounts that a linear, increasingly integrated infrastructural expansion produces a progressively interlaces Europe. Instead, it contends that such processes were characterized by ambiguities and tensions, intertwined with hopes, fears, and the agendas of many historical players as well as conflict-ridden economic and political events. The chapters discuss cases of transnational infrastructural integration and fragmentation in various eras and regions in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe.
“The volume resulted from a six-year research effort led by the editors. In his conclusion, van der Vleuten summarizes the essays and helpfully relates their finding to the large-technological system research programme. On balance, the volume points the way for new collaborations between economic, political, cultural, and technological historians.” —Economic History Review, 2007, 60, 4