Luxembourg (Enchantment Of The World), by Emilie U. Lupthien
It is interesting to read several books about the same country or the same thing and to compare what they have to say and what elements they choose to emphasize. By and large, this book and the other two I read for this syntoptical project were broadly similar in the sort of narrative that they gave, although as is to be expected thy chose to emphasize different aspects of the history and culture and geography of the small nation and were written at different times so they have different stopping points as to their discussion of the nation at hand. And, it should be noted, all of the books share beautiful photographs of old buildings and people wearing quirky costumes engaged in various religious processions, as that is something that seems to strike the tourist interest of a place like Luxembourg. As this is a nation I have not yet seen I would like to see it sometime in my travels through Europe, whenever those are able to happen next. The place of Luxembourg in the world is an interesting one and it is striking to see just how those who want to promote the country choose to do so.
This book is pleasant to read and is a short book at just over 100 pages. The book is divided into ten chapters of material that are richly festooned with colorful photography. The author begins with a look at Luxembourg as a small nation that is far more powerful than its tiny size would indicate (1) through its involvement in European affairs as a founding nation of the EU. The author then discusses the history of Luxembourg up to 1868, when the fortress that had defended the area was destroyed and the grand duchy was set as a permanently neutral European country (2), for all that its neutrality was not respected in the period since 1868 when it was twice invaded by the Germans (3) before becoming a passionate advocate of greater European supranationalism. The author discusses the iron and steel that helped Luxembourg develop from a poor agricultural land to a much wealthier country (4) as well as the commerce and industry and employment that this economic development brought (5). There is a look at the country’s forests, farms, and vineyards (6) as well as what life is like living in the country (7) as well as its rich culture (8). The author takes the reader on a tour of the villages and towns and cities of Luxembourg (9) as well as a discussion of its place in the EU and world affairs (10) before closing with a factsheet as well as an index.
By and large, one can get a sense of the fate of Luxembourg through history and see that the country has beautiful forests and some lovely river valleys, quaint small towns and cities with gorgeous buildings, a population that is largely Catholic and one that has profited through education and the development of a multilingual population that has its own quirky tongue (Luxembourgish) but is also generally fluent in French and German and often English as well. In the poverty of the past and the struggle of the nation for independence despite its position one can see Luxembourg as being a small state like Switzerland that has suffered but also profited from being centrally located and having a population that sees education as a ticket out of rural poverty. As a person with ancestry from the area not far from Luxembourg and my own adoption of education as a means of improvement, there is a lot to relate to here and the book is easy to appreciate in the way that it brings a small and obscure country to light.