Most monuments are literally set in stone — or cast in bronze to better survive the weather. Being enduring, they arguably become ‘prisoners of history’, as this fascinating series of essays by Keith Lowe is titled. Conversely, perspectives are like the weather, constantly changing, as relationships between and within nations, and views on social and moral norms, shift over time, as we are seeing particularly at present. The inherent tension between the human desire for monumental permanence, especially after the upheaval of war, and the natural transience of social values, proves fertile ground for this examination of the lessons that can be drawn from second world war monuments around the world.
Lowe applies his critical gaze to 25 of them, from 16 countries, marshalled into five sections: heroes, martyrs, monsters, apocalypse and rebirth.