Monthly Archives: August 2013

Absolute Destruction


Hull, Isabell V.  Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005.

In a provocative book, Hull studies the ways that military extremism developed in Imperial Germany and was unleashed on people (soldiers and civilians alike) in Southwest Africa and later in Europe.  Her work focuses on “institutional” extremism as separate from any type of ideological extremism like racism.  As such, she claims that “it has been possible to destroy whole peoples without ideological motives” (2).

Central to Hull’s argument about the violent extremism of German military culture is her understanding of “culture” itself, which Part II of her book is dedicating to explaining. “The power of culture is derived from the fact that it operates as a set of assumptions that are unconscious and taken for granted” (95).  Part of these assumptions was the definition of victory, which the German military (and, indeed, any military) defined as total and complete victory in any situation through military force. Hull is careful to reiterate that a military’s expertise is the skilled use of violence, and that naturally violence would be the means to the end of a military victory.  Such a conviction that violence is the best means to an end “reduces the panoply of possible military options, which is actually quite broad” (100).  This limitation of possibilities, paired with the desire for total victory led to extreme forms of violence.

She shows that Southwest Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century was the area where the German military could practice for later European wars (3).  This is a drastically different stance than other scholars that hold that excessive violence was ideologically “acceptable” in the colonies because of the subjects’ inferior status.  But Hull argues that in the colonies is where German military leaders learned to do away with the barrier between combatants and non-combatants, a method of “military necessity” that carried over into Europe during World War One.  Purposefully using provocative word choice, Hull argues that the insistence on total military victory at all costs led to a number of “final solutions,” including the almost complete annihilation of the Herero in South West Africa, the disregard of international protection of civilians during WWI, and even tacit approval of the Armenian genocide in Turkey.

This military extremism evolved into such an orgy of violence that, by 1918, the German military proposed an Endkampf, in which Germany would hold out long enough and destroy what they had until the moment their opponent would deem the war was not worth fighting and give up (thus leaving Germany with a “victory”).  Hull argues that this Endkampf failed because Germany simply didn’t have the resources (even though the military had taken control of the economy, further blurring the line between soldier and civilian) or troop morale to support such a self-destructive campaign.  This “inflated and exclusivist definition of victory” was the main legacy of the Wilhelmine military culture on the National Socialist regime (333).

Hull’s argument seems like it would apply to all militaries in the Western world.  Indeed, she says that “the late nineteenth century Western world thus placed military might at the heart of state self-definition” (326).  But only in Germany was the army established (by the constitution) outside of civilian oversight.  Therefore, it had no one to rein it in as it began to develop excessively violent solutions to problems.  Ultimately, she concludes that “The Imperial German case shows that militaries, because violence is their business, do not need external ideologies or motivations to encourage excess.”

For more books on modern German history, see my list of book reviews HERE.

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The Elastic Closet


Gunther, Scott.  The Elastic Closet:  A History of Homosexuality in France, 1942-Present.  Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan, 2009. 

Subject:  A brief (124 page) survey of laws regarding and public attitudes towards homosexuality in France since 1942.

Main Points:  Gunther argues that homosexuality has enjoyed a unique place in society (and in law) in comparison to other Western nations.  This unique standing can be traced back to the French Revolution when the Republican ideals of “secularism, separation of public and private spheres, liberalism, and universalism” were espoused by the revolutionaries and written into law (1).  In 1791, the law against sodomy was stricken from the books since punishing acts between consenting adults would be seen as a gross breach of privacy.  The ideal of liberalism also held that a crime must have a victim, and in the case of consensual sex, there was no victim.  Gunther argues that the legal systems of other Western nations are also built on this principle, yet they – especially America – are more inclined to allow exceptions to this rule when the “victimless” crime has a long standing tradition of being persecuted.

The main point of Gunther’s argument is the ideal of French universalism, the idea that everyone should be equal under the law.  He argues that in one sense, this is an advantage for homosexuals (and any other minority) because it grants protection.  However, he shows that it could also serve as a restriction by emphasizing assimilation into mainstream, “respectable” French culture.  This is why the radical gay rights activists of the 1970s were unsuccessful in gaining any legal ground, Gunther explains.

But I’m not totally sold on this main argument.  He argues again and again that “though French lawmakers may have wanted to reinstate the crime of sodomy at various moments since 1791, they have not had the license to do so” because of the stringent dedication towards universalism (2).  Yet, though sodomy itself was never criminalized again, two of the main “characters” in his book are the 1942 law that raised the age of consent for homosexuals to 21 (while it remained 13 for heterosexuals), and the 1960 law that doubled the punishment for acts of public indecency when they were committed by homosexuals (as compared to heterosexuals).  The 1942 law was meant to protect “youth” from homosexuality (26), while the victim to be protected by the 1960 law was “the public” (35).  I think these two examples act as cases against Gunther’s own argument.  Sure, while sodomy itself was never re-criminalized, lawmakers found other ways to use the law to persecute homosexuals.  The concept of universalism did little to protect homosexuals in those cases.

In the 1950s and 1960s, homosexual “interest groups” appeared, but they had to be careful of not appearing “too different” (and thus “less French”).  Arcadie, for instance urged gays to be “respectable” and to not emulate the emerging gay culture from the United States.  However, in the general, radical unrest that emerged in 1968, radical gay groups (like the Front homosexuel d’action revolutionnaire) also stepped onto the scene.  They pushed for political reform and the repeal of the 1942 and 1960 laws.  However, they participated in American-esque identity politics and urged gays to take pride in being different (while they also campaigned for the acceptance of pederasty and public nudity).  Gunther argues that these radical groups were unsuccessful because they were, essentially, too radical and thus pushed the confines of the French “elastic closet” by violating the virtue of universalism.  Only more moderate and assimilationist movements like Comite d’urgence anti-repression homosexuelle were successful in promoting bourgeoisie values as the way to acceptance and legal reform.  According to Gunther, these movements were successful in winning the repeal of the two laws, as well as causing all gays to police themselves (since the state no longer had the means, or the ideological backing, to police them) through notions of respectability and assimilation.

The last chapter is interesting and has potential to be a research project in itself, I think.  He studies media outlets (two magazines and one TV network) to see how even these self-proclaimed gay media are restricting themselves by trying to appeal to republican universalism and present themselves as “general audience” outlets.  While one magazine claims to be for gays and lesbians, Gunther shows that it’s actually solely geared towards men.  The other claims to be for meterosexuals, yet only includes gay material; and the TV network PinkTV has consistently claimed to be for a general audience while all of its programming is gay and lesbian themed.  Gunther argues that they cannot “come out” and say that they are a “gay TV network” because that would be exclusionary and against universalism (the title of that chapter is “Outing the French Gay Media”).

My Comments: The book has/had potential, but leaves you feeling cheated.  It tries to cover 70 years in 124 pages, but the Introduction (which is 24 pages) traces Western legal handlings of sodomy back to the Roman Empire, so really, the space granted his actual topic is even less than what it first seems.

As for the arguments: I think they’re too general to be very useful as they are.  I think there may be something to the idea that the handling of homosexuality in France has been unique because of the ideal enshrined by the French Revolution.  But since he tries to cover so much in so little space, everything remains very generalized.  He does a service to remind us that laws don’t necessarily reflect public sentiment, and he raises a lot of interesting questions (which any good work should do).  But honestly, I think that’s his greatest contribution here: showing where more research can be done.  Moreover, the sources he uses and quotes will be helpful for someone who can approach this topic with a little more nuance.

For more books on the history of sexuality, see my list of book reviews HERE.

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Imperial Germany & the Great War


Chickering, Roger.  Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 

Chickering’s book is a study of Imperial Germany’s (the Kaiserreich’s) actions during the First World War.  He does not spend much time considering Germany’s role in the outbreak of the war, but instead focuses on what he considers to be crucial miscalculations on the part of Germany’s leaders in carrying out the nation’s war effort.  Upon finishing the book, one gets the impression not of imperial leaders diabolically starting a war for national gain, but instead one in which Germany’s leaders were stuck in a bygone age, unwilling to understand their new, modern world, and thus causing more devastation than was necessary.

Chickering asserts that Germany’s leaders realized the potential for overseas colonies and warfare to forge a sense of national unity at home; in other words, domestic affairs could be solved through foreign affairs.  That is why, as potential war built up in 1914, the German Empire’s leaders felt ready to undertake the effort.  Chickering then describes the “spirit of 1914” that was present in Germany, a “spontaneous and overpowering sense of national unity, a unanimity of view about the origins and meaning of the conflict that was beginning” (14).  Furthermore, many felt that the coming war would decide once and for all between the shallow, materialistic Gesellschaft in favor of the communal, patriotic and ideal Gemeinschaft.

While the “spirit of 1914” may have bolstered a sense of unity, it only set the Germans up for disillusionment, Chickering argues, because it did not take into account the new technologies that would make this war something completely different than anything before it.  For Chickering, the prime symbol of German leaders’ inability to adjust to the modern world is the Schlieffen Plan and its failure because of its basis on outdated notions of warfare that did not take technological innovations seriously enough.  After 1914 proved not to bring a quick military victory, it became apparent to the leaders that the war was to be won or lost “elsewhere than on the field of battle” (31).  In other words, because warfare itself had changed, resources and sustainability would be the deciding factors.  This gave the home front unprecedented importance (and thus power), so when social unrest broke out by the second half of the war, the main form of protest was the industrial strike.  Moreover, as manual labor became increasingly important to the war effort, the boundaries between blue and white collared workers became blurred. As the war raged on and took its toll on the home front, the costs of war were not equally shared.  While the war sometimes exacerbated old social divisions, new ones were also created.  Chickering, then, sees the many Vereine as the fragmentation of German society, an attempt for Germans to confront the war’s meaning by grouping together with others based on some broader interpretive framework like economic class (133).

Throughout the book, Chickering closely traces the tension between the military and civilian leadership of the government.  By 1916, the army had become the dominant political force in Germany, and Hindenburg and Ludendorff mobilized total war based both on flawed understandings of economics and idealized notions of conditions on the ground, thus undermining their own goals.  Resources were poorly allocated and their attempts to micromanage the economy failed.  When it became apparent in 1918 that the military could not win the war, “the burden of making the fundamental decisions shifted… from the soldiers to statesmen and political leaders” (187). Handing the reigns over to civilians at the moment of defeat laid the groundwork for the “stab in the back” theory that would dominate a majority of Germans’ understanding the war’s end until 1945.

For more books on modern German history, see my list of book reviews HERE.

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Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia


Healey, Dan.  Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia:  the Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Main Arguments & Points: Healey argues that understanding of homosexuality in 19th/20th century Russia took a different development than Western European conceptions of same-sex desire.  In Imperial Russia, the landed estates provided a “traditional masculine culture” in which “traditional indulgence between men” (26) (between serfs, or between serfs and lords) was plentiful.  Moreover, he uses diaries, letters, and court records to show that enforcement of the empire’s anti-sodomy laws was lazy and uneven at best.  Additionally, the Eastern Orthodox Church didn’t consider same-sex sex as particularly worse than any other sin.

With the relatively late urbanization of Russia, a “modern homosexual subculture” took root, where some same-sex desiring men embodied gender-inversion and took on effeminate characteristics to pair up with more traditionally masculine men (who were only interested in effeminate men).  Same-sex desiring women didn’t develop a similar lesbian sub-culture because of the state’s strict regulation of public spaces, which were barred to women.  Because of the lack of historical sources, women actually have an absence in Healey’s book, but he does show how neither the imperial state nor the Bolshevik revolutionaries felt particularly threatened by same-sex desiring women.  In fact, the revolutionaries seemed to welcome the strong, masculine “transvestites” (women who took on and fully embodied a masculine gender, cross-dressed, and took on a male identity) who would fight for the new state…as long as they would mother children along the way.  When same-sex sex was recriminalized in 1933 by the Stalin regime (Lenin had decriminalized consensual same-sex acts among adults), women were not mentioned in the law, and in fact, Healey argues, that because they were able to act in unconventional ways, these masculine women were able to meet others like themselves, even though no lasting sub-culture emerged.

What I find most interesting though, is the way Healey ties in understandings of homosexuality with Russian imperialism, thus showing that understanding (homo)sexuality – far from being an obscure or marginal interest for scholars – is central to understanding Russian history.  He argues that the imperial state was much more likely to enforce its sodomy laws in the periphery of the empire, as a way of shoring up its boundaries.  This discrepancy carried over to Soviet Russia, when in the 1920s, medical “experts” concluded that in urban Russian areas (the “civilized” areas), homosexuality was a relatively minor issue that could be addressed through medical means (he also points out that the medicalization of homosexuality didn’t have near an impact in Russia as it had in Western Europe, mainly because of strict state control of the medical profession).   In the rural parts of the Soviet Union, however, homosexuality was dealt with in political, not medical, terms.  This was because the government leaders correlated homosexuality in the rural areas with a supposed “primitiveness” of those societies.  In fact, when the anti-sodomy law was repealed in 1922, it was only repealed for the heart of the Soviet Union; it was kept on the books for the outlying regions like Uzbekistan and Georgia (178-80).

Healey argues that this divide between urban and rural had more to do with political goals than an understanding of homosexuality in and of itself.  City-dwellers at the heart of the Union were seen as loyal to the government.  The traditional acceptance of male-male intimacy of the rural population was seen as oppositional to the revolution.  Therefore those on the outskirts were understood as class enemies, and thus enemies of the state (or they were at least more likely to be class enemies).  Healey calls the Russian focus on centers and peripheries a “geography of perversion,” in which a healthy and urban Russian nation was situated between a diseased and perverted West and a primitive East.

His work also exemplifies the importance of “spaces” in the development of homosexual subcultures.  As mentioned before, Russian women (even in the cities) didn’t have access to the public spaces, such as salons and cafes, that women had in Western Europe, so it was hard for larger networks of Russian lesbians to develop.  But Healey also shows that while sodomy may have been decriminalized in 1922, the possibilities for a male homosexual subculture decreased as the Soviet state grew, because there was more state control of spaces like dance halls and bath houses.  Healey reiterates that this new control of public spaces was not meant as a means of controlling homosexuality in particular, but it had confining effects nonetheless.  The re-criminalization of homosexual acts in 1933 should be seen as a larger effort to stigmatize any and all perceived deviancy in the Soviet Union, though the effort against eradicating homosexuality was given special fervor with constant campaigns portraying Nazi fascism as inherently homosexual in nature.

My Comments:

I thought that it was interesting how, in a more authoritative state that was less concerned with the individual as it was the integrity and power of the state, homosexuality was seen as less of a problem.  And it wasn’t until the authority of the state was directly questioned – whether on the outskirts of the empire, or by internal socio-economic pressures – that homosexuals – and almost exclusively effeminate men – became one of the scapegoats.  I think this might show that the Russian state was more interested in controlling male gender (getting rid of effeminate men rather than trying to control men’s sexuality, or who they slept with) and female sexuality (reproduction – rather than keeping them from being masculine).

For more books on the history of sexuality, see my list of book reviews HERE. 

Categories: Book Review, History, Sexuality & Gender | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Home Fires Burning

Davis Book


Davis, Belinda J.  Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin.  Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2000.


Beyond being simply interesting and well-written, Davis’ work has far reaching impacts for understanding this period of German history. Beyond raising questions of legitimacy and the definition of politics, Davis’ narrative of the collapse of the German Empire is much different than Chickering’s account of a controlled abdication of the throne from the top.  The fact that women of lesser means, who had no political power, but great symbolic power (136), were able to protest about food distribution, and that the imperial government actually responded to those demands rather than subduing the open protests, represents a profound shift in our understanding of Germany during the First World War.

Davis’ book focuses on the food shortage in Berlin caused by the British blockade of the city during the war.  Because “women customarily controlled the major part of the purchase, preparation, and consumption of food in a German household at this time,” a food shortage suddenly thrust women into the political sphere (33).  While initial government propaganda efforts tried to convince the German population that this food shortage was good for them (by “hardening them up”), working and lower-middle class women quickly dismissed this as the government trying to sidestep its responsibility.  In response, women took to the streets in open protest, demanding that the government do something to help them.

The shortage of bread and potatoes during the winter of 1914/1915 “transformed shopping into a task riddled with anxiety and rancor,” and as a result, the “woman of lesser means” emerged as a new social protagonist.  These women came to “represent the front-line soldier in the inner economic war fought in the streets” of Germany (48).  These women led protests against the government, calling it indifferent at best, and incompetent at worst.  Even the Berlin police commissioner recognized that the “state must act to throw its lot with poor consumers or it would be seen as against them” (75).

Davis also shows how the government responded to these protests: government agencies, such as a national butter distribution authority, were created, and regulations were placed on the economy.  By responding to these women of lesser means, Davis asserts that “imperial officials both acknowledged and legitimated the notion that street protestors should set the agenda for official action” (112). However, by 1918 – even after the creation of the War Food Office in 1916 and a “food dictatorship” under the OHL later that year – the women of lesser means deemed that the government had failed them.  A series of food-hoarding scandals in 1917 dashed notions of the government’s “good intentions,” and poor Berliners concluded that they should no longer place faith in the regime (191).

Davis sees this period as the death of the Staatsnation, in which the nation existed to serve the state, and the birth of the Volksnation, in which the people were the seat of the nation (135).  This is important because when the home front decided that its government was un-reformable and had failed them, it cultivated an atmosphere that helps explain the revolution of 1918.  Davis’ book ultimately shows that women at the home front played a vital role in World War I (and knew that they played an important role) by causing drastic changes in the way the government was perceived, and the way the government perceived itself.  In doing so, she makes us question what constitutes politics (these women had no political power, yet ultimately wielded great symbolic power).

For more books on modern German history, see my list of book reviews HERE.

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Sexuality in Europe: A 20th Century History


Herzog, Dagmar.  Sexuality in Europe:  A Twentieth-Century History.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.   

Subject: A thematic and chronological overview of how Europeans have viewed and understood sexuality between 1900 and 2010.

Summary & Main Arguments: 

In a display of her mastery of the topic, Herzog deftly reveals how and why the twentieth century in Europe really was the “century of sex.”  By the turn of the century, she argues, societies’ obsession with ideas about sex meant that sex, and an increasingly predominant conception of a sexuality, influenced the other aspects of society that we don’t generally think of as being connected with sex: politics and economics (as well as those areas more traditionally connected to sex: religion and morality).

The main purpose of Herzog’s book is to challenge the notion that the “history of sexuality in the 20th century” is simply a story of liberation and progress, of overcoming barriers to reach sexual liberation and legal-political equality (she is firmly convincing in this effort).  Instead, she offers a more nuanced view of this history, one that she does not deny is ultimately successful in achieving victories for women and sexual minorities (she also shows how these processes create sexual minorities).  “To tell only a narrative of gradual progress would be to misunderstand how profoundly complicated the sexual politics of the twentieth century in Europe actually were” (1).

She lays out three issues that highlight the sporadic, stop-and-go nature of the developments of how Europeans understood sexuality:  1) backlashes feature prominently in her history.  Many of the major developments in the story can be seen as a backlash to a previous movement.  For example, the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s is portrayed – in large part – as a backlash against the conservative tides of the 50s.  As time goes on and media and technology improve, these backlashes become more extreme, yet with shorter duration.  2) A second theme that she highlights is that the new, radical views of sexuality were not accepted by all, and they were not all perceived as utopian (even by self-identified liberals).  There were problems embedded within the new sexual norms, as well as defining what those new norms should be (or what a society without norms at all would look like).  Another problem was that people tended not to realize that sexual policies were tied to other issues like racism.  3) The third issue she brings up is that, while “sex became burdened with enormous significance” (2), it did not mean the same thing to everyone.  This ambivalence created –as well as highlighted existing – anxieties about a society in which sex was “free.”  (Fears of rape, abuse, exploitation, for example).

Apart from complicating the story of progress, the book’s other great strength is explicitly showing how sexual issues became political.  “In a constantly reconfigured combination of stimulus and regulation, prohibition and exposure, norm-expounding and obsessed detailing of deviance, liberalizing and repressive impulses together worked to make conflicts over sexual matters consequential for politics writ large” (3).

It’s impossible to highlight all of the book’s observations and points here, but I do want to mention a few that I found the most enlightening (from each chapter):

1) Between 1900-1914, sexuality was re-conceptualized, spurred by three factors: issues concerning prostitutes forced society to study the inequality of sexual responsibility among men and women.  She also shows how – through eugenics – the state succeeded in harnessing the power of fertility to reach political (and racial) goals.  Lastly, she shows how sex scandals (usually centered on homosexual acts) spread through a new print culture influenced societal beliefs of homosexuality, thus helping to define homosexuality as much as the medicalization of homosexuality.

2) World War One (by removing men from women and placing them in all male situations, also leaving more women among themselves back home – and by creating a period of instability in general), “dramatically quickened changes in the organization of understanding of sexuality that had been underway since the turn of the century” (45).  Moreover, WW Two witnessed a period of state intervention in citizens’ sexual lives that was hitherto unprecedented – by democracies as well as totalitarian regimes. Democratic countries were characterized by ambivalence: while cracking down on homosexuality, they were loosening the state’s control on contraceptives and abortion.

3) The Cold War period was one of sexual conservatism and wanting to return to a pre-war normality.  But, the seeds of a more liberal movement were already planted in steady economic growth, new consumer opportunities, and a growing understanding of “privacy.”  This formed a small place for liberal activists to get a foothold and then push for reform in the 1970s.

4) While the media perpetuated the tenets of the 1960s/70s sexual revolution, promoting free love and using sex to sell, it also exposed the conservative nature of the laws still on the books in these countries.  This allowed the minority of activists to initiate activism.

5) This chapter has the most information and can be daunting:  Due to the explosion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, there was initially a conservative backlash.  However, Herzog argues that the very real threat to society’s health forced Europe to grow more comfortable with confronting issues of sexuality (and sexual acts themselves).  This leads to an appreciation of human sexual diversity and the privacy of one’s “bedroom,” (though we see an increased government participation in sexuality through safe sex campaigns).  Perhaps most interesting is her handling of European Islam.  As Islam spread in Europe, traditionally conservative parties, beginning in the mid 1990s, took up sexually liberal stances (on abortion and homosexuality, for example) in order to se themselves apart from the “sexually oppressive” Muslims.  Gay and lesbian Muslims were able to use the LGBT-friendly space in Europe to redefine what Islam meant for them.

My comments: This is an excellent book.  It’s well written, and packed full of information – all into 220 pages.  It’s dense in info, but still accessible and can easily be used for undergrads because while explaining different views of sexuality, she avoids the theoretical jargon.  My one complaint is that she doesn’t look at east Europeans until they become nominally “European” – until after the fall of Communism, and in some cases, until their admittance into the EU.

For more books on European history and the history of sexuality, see my list of reviews HERE. 

Categories: Book Review, History, Modern European History, Sexuality & Gender | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

For a Laugh

Lick the Dentist


Not Funny

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Double Crunch Honey Garlic Pork Chops

We made these for supper a few nights ago, and damn are they good!  

Crunchy Honey Garlic Chops


  • About 6 center loin pork chops, well trimmed (any cut will do, boneless just made it a little easier)

For the coating, sift together:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper (we did a full teaspoon and it gave it a nice spice, without being hot)

Make an egg wash by whisking together:

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp water


  1. Season the pork chops with salt & pepper, then did the chops in the flour and spice mixture
  2. Dip the chop into the egg wash and then a final time into the flour & spice mix, pressing the mix into the chop to get good contact.
  3. Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil.  You will want to carefully regulate the temperature so that the chops do not brown too quickly on the outside before they are fully cooked on the inside.  Just below medium works well.
  4. Fry the chops gently for about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked into the Honey Garlic Sauce.  Serve with noodles or rice.

Honey Garlic Sauce:

In a medium saucepan add:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic

Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but do not let it brown.  Then, Add:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • *optional* = 1 tbsp of hot chili garlic sauce (we used Huy Fong brand)

Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Watch this carefully as it simmers because it can foam up over the pot very easily.

Photo and original recipe from Rock Recipes blog

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German Nationalism & Religious Conflict


Smith, Helmut Walser.  German Nationalism and Religious Conflict: Culture, Ideology, Politics, 1870-1914.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

“Although unified politically, the German empire of 1871 was a deeply divided state,” Smith states (233).  This was not due to any lack of nationalism to bind the loyalties of the multiple localities to a single state.  Instead, this division was the result of multiple nationalisms based on confessional divides, each of which was trying to define, in its own terms, what it meant to be German.  In this regard, Smith’s book is not just a study of political or cultural nationalism, but of religious nationalism as well.

Smith positions himself against previous historians who viewed nationalism as a functionalist tool used by elites to forge a unified sentiment of loyalty to the new nation and empire.  Smith’s work displays a plurality of nationalities arising from below and trying to define the boundaries of German identity.  So, rather than diminishing Protestant and Catholic divides, nationalism(s) actually exacerbated differences among Protestants and Catholics.  “The move toward national unity intensified group tensions within the society by raising settled cultural forms out of their particular context, expanding them into general allegiances, and politicizing them” (239).  Protestants, who were the majority in the newly unified Germany, saw their Reich as being deeply tied to Protestantism, and so when Bismarck launched the Kulturkampf, they did not necessarily see it as a struggle between Church and state, but instead understood it as the imperial government forging a Protestant nation.

The Protestant League was founded in 1866 in an effort to further these goals.  But the end of Bismarck’s official Kulturkampf a year later did not mean that German Catholics and Protestants had settled their differences.  On the contrary, the Protestant League picked up the slack and tried to “break the power of Rome on German soil” (52).  They tried to emphasize that Germany was a specifically Protestant nation, and they went as far as supporting the turn of the century “Away from Rome” Protestant uprisings in the Habsburg territories.  These efforts were ultimately a failure and only resulted in the Protestant League losing money and its reputation.

By the first years of the twentieth century, the Protestant League had radicalized and was even willing to oppose the German government, which they saw as weak in the face of Catholic influence, particularly when it legalized Catholic religious orders in 1902.  In an effort to defeat the Center Party, which was open to Catholics, the Protestant League had to endorse the Social Democrat party, an act that caused more strife and divisions in the conservative League.

Ultimately, Smith’s book reveals that there were a multitude of nationalisms in existence during this period.  While Catholics and Protestants were busy promoting national identities based on confessional divides, other nationalist associations like the Agrarian League and Pan Germans sought to promote the Germanness of the Reich and downplay confessional loyalties.

Smith’s work also questions the role of religion in the “modern” world.  In other words, by bringing attention back to religion in the process of nation-building, he re-conceptualizes the role of confessional loyalties in the process of modernization.  Whereas a defining attribute of being modern is traditionally understood as being secular, Smith shows that religion and confessional divides were at the heart of issues of national identity.  Instead of being a “backward” hold out of a previous era, confessional conflict was an “integral part” of becoming modern for people who “often perceived themselves as forward looking” (235).

Fore more books on German history, see my list of book reviews HERE.

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