I just finished reading A Concise History of Switzerland by Clive H. Church, and hoo boy was that a doozy of a book. Not in a good way. Not even in a bad way. It’s just, this book is about the political history of Switzerland since roughly 1100. Basically a text book that took me an entire month to read. I’d been wanting to inform myself more on my adopted country, and I find the political system extremely confusing. I thought this would clarify things but really, it didn’t.
Switzerland has a very different history from most European countries. As opposed to a imperial empire, it was created through complex alliances and treaties of different regions. Which is great, but doesn’t make for riveting reading. You know who does have an exciting history? France. France’s history is pure sex. I mean, you have despotic sun gods for kings, then a revolution that reshaped the western world, then the Napoleonic era in which half of all romance novels are set. Even after a rather embarrassing surrender in WWII, the French come back with a very sexy Resistance. That’s a political history I want to read.
Switzerland, not so much. But it made me think a lot about Switzerland. So I came up with a list of the good and bad things in Switzerland. Here goes:
Things that make Switzerland awesome:
- It is the most beautiful, scenic country in the world
- A vibrant tourism industry based on railway travel and alpinism – very romantic
- Secretive banks – good if you are a billionaire or like to pretend your life is like a spy novel, which I do all the time
- Chocolate flows through the streets like water, almost
- The Swiss are energetic, really fit and like being outdoors – it’s inspiring
- It has all of the cheeses
I once told my niece that Switzerland was the land of gold and chocolate. And basically, this is true. I encourage everyone to come here, at least once. Which might be all you an afford. But it’s not something you’ll regret. So. Beautiful. And did I mention the chocolate?
Things that don’t make Switzerland awesome:
- Switzerland’s political history
Well, I might be biased after reading this book. And I’m being too harsh. It wasn’t a bad book, I just know that precisely zero of you are going to go out and read it, because why would you? And I was a little more interested in the history of Geneva and Suisse Romande, which wasn’t really a part of the Swiss picture until 200 years ago, so there was a lot of back and forth treaty-ing for hundreds of years before my interest was even piqued. So, basically, don’t read this book. But do visit Switzerland! It’s so beautiful.