Magazine article Geographical


Magazine article Geographical


Article excerpt


by Jan Ruger; Oxford University Press;


[pounds sterling]25 (hardback/ebook)

As the distinguished German historian, Jan Ruger, describes, never under-estimate the influence and power of strategically small islands and the giant political rivalries that ensue. No more so than Heligoland, the archipelago of 'rock and sand' in the North Sea 50 miles from the German Coast, Britain's smallest and most difficult 19th century colony. These Heligoland islands may be half the size of Gibraltar, but their political significance over the past two centuries, as Britons and Germans have fought for supremacy in the North Sea, has become a metaphor for rivalry, conflict and a stark reminder of our battered past.

Ruger has written a micro-history that captures the complexity of Anglo-German relations through the changing ownership of an 'elevated, barren, rocky spot' that begins with George Ill's order to take possession of Heligoland from the Danes in 1806. …

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