Christopher Kopper, Handel und Verkehr im 20. Jahrhundert (Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte, vol. 63), Oldenbourg, Munich (2002), 152 pp., [euro]19.80.
Engineers often like to think that the history of their own products and fields of interest will be written by someone else. Transport planning scientists especially tend to believe this, as the traffic system plays such a crucial role for economic development and structural changes for living and work environments. The interaction between spatial structures, velocity, economy and society are manifold and important enough for understanding modern societies.
However, experience gathered by my own work group of transport planning scientists when developing network models for Switzerland has dimmed my expectations. My hopes were also lessened by reading Millward's Private and Public Enterprise in Europe (2005), which delivered a comprehensive schedular overview of the various network industries since 1830 remained disappointingly superficial. From the point of view that combines socio-historical, economic and user-oriented aspects Kopper's book also remains near the surface.
However, this criticism is inappropriate, as this was not the author's aim. Like the other contributions to this encyclopaedia he describes chronologically the institutional changes of railways and other common carriers on the one hand and discusses the state of the art in scientific literature on the other.
Each of the chapters on railway history is as long as all the chapters on the other carriers (road transport, inland water navigation, air transport) together. Unfortunately, there are no statistics or maps at all to describe construction states for the different carriers. …