“…Beautiful illustrations and concise descriptions.” wrote book reviewer Don Heinrich Tolzmann in his German Life magazine review of Roads to Ruins: A Guide to the Medieval Castles of Germany, the recently released book by Lakewood author Edward G. Kane.
German Life is an international magazine that publishes articles on German, Austrian and Swiss history, travel and culture, as well as on people of German heritage living abroad, especially in the United States.
Roads to Ruins was a project thirty years in the making; German castles became a fascination for author Kane when he was first sent to Germany with the U.S. Army in the 1950s. The hilltop castle Altenburg dominated the city of Bamberg, Germany where Kane met and married Irene, his wife of fifty-seven years. That castle was the project’s catalyst and now resides on the cover of his book – a place of prominence he reserved for the castle from the beginning of his pursuits.
Described in part as “…not only a useful travel guide, but also an informative introduction to German history in the medieval period,” the book’s research and photography of 220 locations took seven trips to Germany after Kane retired from the army. Of those, 196 sites found a place in his 192-page full-color book along with his original maps and illustrations.
Each of those locations includes a brief history of the castle as well as (where available) the name of the original builder. But more than a history book, Roads to Ruins is a coffee-table style pictorial treatment designed to entice folks to travel to Germany. It also overcomes the shortfalls of earlier castle books that made castle-hunting a time-consuming and costly venture. The gallery section is broken down by German states and each castle appears in the state in which it is located. Each castle includes the name of the closest town as well as the GPS coordinates for mistake-free touring.
The publication was produced using high-quality materials and latest-technology flexible cover material that bridges the gap between hard cover and soft cover. Roads was designed for beauty and durability, and is meant to serve as a guide for travelers and a souvenir for those who have traveled to or served in Germany, as well as for anyone of German heritage or with an interest in castles.
Copies of the book Roads to Ruins can be purchased at www.roadstoruins.com or at Amazon.com under Books>Travel, or by Author>Edward G. Kane. Locally, Kane can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following is a copy of the book review (German Life magazine, October/November 2015, can be found at Barnes & Noble bookstore):
By Don Heinrich Tolzmann
Roads to Ruins: A Guide to the Medieval Castles of Germany, by Edward G. Kane (Freelance Graphics, 2014) is not only a useful travel guide, but also an informative introduction to German history in the medieval period. Today, there are more than 12,000 buildings in Germany dating back to that time and 8,000 more in areas that were once part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Conveniently arranged by state with beautiful illustrations and concise descriptions of each castle, this guide surveys some outstanding examples of medieval castles in present day Germany. Kane traces German history from the time of the fall of the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages, showing how castles served as fortresses protecting a given locality. Many were built in the 11th and 12th centuries, but also into the 15th and 16th centuries.
This guide is aptly titled Roads to Ruins as most castles are in that condition, but not merely as a result of their age. A good number of German castles were destroyed in times of war, especially the Thirty Years War and the Napoleonic wars. Castles were regarded as “safe stop-over stations” where rulers could “make their powers and presence felt and their edicts obeyed.” They constructed them “to protect their outer reaches from invaders or to secure and expand newly conquered territories.” As such, they became obvious targets for invading armies. More than a few castle descriptions end with the phrase: “destroyed by the French.”
Each castle is briefly but succinctly described. One of Germany’s most famous castles is the Frankenstein Castle in southern Hesse. It, of course, has no connection “to the infamous creature” in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818), was built in 1250, but fell into disrepair by the 19th Century.
Readers will especially enjoy the chapter “At Home in Your Castle,” which describes everyday life in a medieval castle. One topic: “Toilets were built into the outer walls and protruded over a moat when available. Called a Garderobe, the protruding toilet had a hole in the bottom through which waste dropped into the moat or cesspool, leaving a trail down the outer wall which relied on rain for cleansing.” Kane explores these and other aspects of medieval castle life, so that the reader comes away with a good grasp of the pleasant and unpleasant aspects. And the author has done well by placing this into the historical context of the cultural life of medieval Germany.