The Icon Curtain: The Cold War's Quiet Border

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9780226154190: The Icon Curtain: The Cold War's Quiet Border

"A truly excellent book. "The Icon Curtain" is part and parcel of an expanding literature on the making of the border in Cold War Germany. But Komska's book is distinct and highly original. Komska examines the ways in which former Sudeten Germans narrativized the border in both text and image. She analyzes, in other words, the cultural productions and practices of Sudeten Germans themselves. In so doing, she excavates a body of sources that has thus far completely eluded the attention of historians, anthropologists, or literary critics. With considerable skill and energy, Komska deploys a multiplicity of disciplinary perspectives to her multifaceted source body. What emerges from this multifaceted analysis is not a series of loosely related case studies but rather a specific and quite coherent set of cultural practices and representations. Komska's study reconstructs an imaginary world, a set of fantasies that sought to reconcile traditional attachment to an always contested homeland with the new reality of an increasingly impermeable Cold War border. This is one of the most erudite, well-written, and original analyses of the cultural history of the Cold War that I am aware of. I have no doubts that it will have a defining impact on a variety of fields."--Frank Biess, University of California, San Diego "coeditor of "Science and Emotions after 1945: A Transatlantic Perspective" "


"Komska's work on the part of the Iron Curtain further to the south is a welcome addition. It is not often that a forest forms the centrepiece in historical writing. "The Icon Curtain" is one of those instances. Komska's research focuses on the Bohemian Forest on the border moving up and down between the western side of Czechoslovakia and the West German border. Her work not only explores a less-studied locus of Cold War tension, but it also aims to deepen our understanding of the Iron Curtain by looking at representations rather than events, and by looking at literary texts and religious artefacts rather than experiences. . . . Komska's research persuasively shows how the character of the Iron Curtain was far from uniform throughout its length. . . . The content is enlightening and she demonstrates how using geographical, literary and visual sources can greatly enhance our understanding of this era."--Hester Vaizey, University of Cambridge, author of "Born in the GDR: Living in the Shadow of the Wall" "Times Higher Education "

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