A Hundred Years of Geography

A Hundred Years of Geography

A Hundred Years of Geography

A Hundred Years of Geography

Excerpt

The history of geography is not an over-tilled field, and this book deals only with some aspects of its development in the past hundred years. The request to write it came by post with no preliminary warning but never was a task more happily accepted, for it offered an opportunity of reading much that was written in the nineteenth century and of observing the steady growth of geographical work in a rapidly changing world. One wonders, for example, how great the influence of geographical arguments on the Treaty of Versailles really was, and to what extent geopolitical thinking paved the way for the war of 1939-45. The impetus given to geography by colonial expansion in the late nineteenth century is clear, and it cannot be accidental that the growth of geography has been notable since 1919. Much could be done by a series of national geographical histories, of which one for the United States is promised already. Equally, there is a need for more biographies of geographers of various periods.

No subject, perhaps, can more justly claim to be international, and though this book is written with a basis of British geography, the debt of British geographers to the continental European pioneers, particularly in France and Germany, is heavy. In recent years, the marked advance of American geography has been fruitful in Europe: among the smaller nations fine work has been done, conspicuously by the Finns and Swedes. For the future, many hopes rest with the university and other geographers in Asia, Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand, not least because their home territories are being rapidly changed and undoubtedly will be transformed in the next few generations.

It is usual for an author to thank his colleagues and other friends for help, but the main acknowledgement is to those who have facilitated escape into the monastic seclusion of library, study and garden. It is only fair to add that the views expressed are personal, and do not implicate the friend to whom this book is affectionately dedicated. A word of gratitude must be given to the small Honours class in Manchester who patiently listened to this book as a lecture course; possibly this book will help students of . . .

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