Sarah ColvinOct 3, 2022
The Story of Germany Told by Its Prisoners
Reaktion Books 2022
Shadowland: The Story of Germany Told by Its Prisoners (Reaktion Books, 2022) is a history of modern Germany told not through the lives of its leaders, but its lawbreakers. As Nelson Mandela said, “a nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” Shadowland tells the sometimes inspiring, often painful stories of Germany’s prisoners, and thereby shines new light on Germany itself. The story begins at the end of the Second World War, in a defeated country on the edge of collapse, in which orphaned and lost children are forced into homelessness, scavenging and stealing to stay alive, often laying the foundations of a so-called criminal career. While East Germany developed detention facilities for its secret police, West Germany passed prison reform laws, which erected, in the words of a prisoner, “little asbestos walls in Hell.” Shadowland is Germany as seen through the lives, experiences, triumphs, and tragedies of its lowest citizens.
Sarah Colvin is the Schröder Professor of German at the University of Cambridge. She has participated in prison-based arts and education projects and is an advisory group member for the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including The Routledge Handbook of German Politics and Culture.
Nicholas Misukanis is a doctoral candidate in the history department at the University of Maryland - College Park. He studies modern European and Middle Eastern history with a special emphasis on Germany and the role energy autonomy played in foreign and domestic German politics during the twentieth century. He is currently working on his dissertation which analyzes why the West German government failed to convince the public to embrace nuclear energy and the ramifications this had on German politics between 1973 and 1986. His work has been published in Commonweal, America: The Jesuit Review, The United States’ Naval Academy’s Tell Me Another and Studies on Asia.