The Western Front has become, once again, and after 100 years, an important and increasingly popular tourist destination. The Centenary is already encouraging large numbers of visitors to engage with this highly poignant landscape of war and to commemorate the sacrifice and loss of a previous generation. Interest is also being sharpened in the ‘places of war’ as battle-sites, trench-systems, bunkers and mine craters gain a clearer identity as war heritage.
For the first time this book brings together the three strands of heritage, landscape and tourism to provide a fresh understanding of the multi-layered nature of the Western Front. The book approaches the area as a rich dynamic landscape which can be viewed in a startling variety of ways: historically, materially, culturally, and perceptually. To illustrate these two dominant interpretations of the region’s landscape – commemorative and heritage – are highlighted and their relationship to tourism explored. Tourism is a lens through which these layers can be peeled away, and each understood and interacted with according to the individual’s own knowledge, motivation, and degree of emotional engagement. Tourism is not regarded here as a passive phenomenon, but as an active agent that can determine, dictate and inscribe this evocative landscape.
The Western Front: Landscape, Tourism and Heritage is a timely addition to our increasing interest in the First World War and the places where it was fought. It will be indispensable to those who seek a deeper understanding of the conflict from previously undervalued perspectives.
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