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Ralf Roth (ed.), Stadte im europaischen Raum. Verkehr, kommunikation und Urbanitat im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert.

Ralf Roth (ed.), Stadte im europaischen Raum. Verkehr, Kommunikation und Urbanitat im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag (2009), 270 pp., 49.00 [euro].

Ralf Roth, a specialist historian of the cultural and social history of cities and networks of communication, compiled this book with articles in English and German, dedicated to nineteenth and twentieth European cities analyzed from the perspectives of traffic, communication and urban life. This ninth collected volume of reports on history and urban research received the support of the ZEIT Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius foundations. It mobilised ten authors from varied universities including, remarkably, Eastern Europe.

The volume's object is to determine how European townscapes became established, thanks to common practices such as community behavior around the concrete or virtual networks of communication for people and cargo. Channels of virtual communication for financial information are analyzed in depth. As Rolf indicates in his introduction, the book is a contribution to the traffic in ideas, models and urbanistic theories. The chronological periods used are broad, in order to identify a definite shape of European modernity bound to this development of diverse mobilities. The sources used, their variety and their originality, provide numerous illustrations.

Among the synthetic contributions, those of Rainer Liedtke, Dobrinka Parusheva, Dieter Schott, Anja Kervanto Nevanlinna illustrate the theoretical postulates developed by Ralf Roth in his presentation of the development of the European networks of communication. As the editor reminds us, traffic opens for cities and their development 'an endless history in the complex consequences and in the mutual interdependences' (p. 58). Other cross-cutting themes emerge, and authors from central and eastern Europe offer new points of view. These are supplemented by useful chapter bibliographies and indexes of names and places. The cities of Czernowitz (today Tchernivtsi in Ukraine), Lisbon, Hamburg and London, Petersburg and Berlin, Paris and Helsinki, are especially well presented in a comparative perspective.

This work will be of a great value to historians of mobility who can see de-compartmentalisation in the paradigms of traditional transport history.

Matthieu Flonneau, CHS, Universite Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne

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Author:Flonneau, Matthieu
Publication:The Journal of Transport History
Date:Jun 1, 2011
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