Book Review-‘Heligoland: Britain, Germany, and the struggle for the North Sea’ by J. Rüger

By W. Mark Hamilton, published November 2020


Author Jan Rüger has written a masterful history of a ‘rock’ in the North Sea, and in the process provided his readers with a fascinating account of Anglo-German relations. The ‘rock’ in question is the island of Heligoland, and in the author’s words it’s ‘an apt location from where to rethink the Anglo-German past’.

Heligoland is a symbol of the historic Anglo-German antagonism beginning in 1890 and culminating in two catastrophic world wars. This is microhistory at its best, as Rüger uses Heligoland to exhibit the evolving cultural, social, and geopolitical relationship between two great European powers. As he has done in earlier publications, the author draws on art, music, literature, and film to make important points. Located 300 miles off the coast of England and much closer — only 29 miles — to the German mainland, Heligoland had a vital strategic meaning and an even greater symbolic meaning for the North Sea maritime rivals…

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Filed under: WW1 | Interwar | WW2 | North Sea | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Strategy & Diplomacy

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