Casteel argues that German images of Russia in the modern period reflected not only this international relationship, but also more widely were influenced by concepts of Germany's status in world politics, in 'a world of empires.' This is an important insight, and Casteel covers the subject thoroughly. He extends earlier scholarship to a global scale, and thus this is a valuable contribution to globalizing German history.
This book traces transformations in German views of Russia in the first half of the twentieth century, leading up to the disastrous German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Casteel shows how Russia figured in the imperial visions and utopian desires of a variety of Germans, including scholars, journalists, travel writers, government and military officials, as well as nationalist activists. He illuminates the ambiguous position that Russia occupied in Germans’ global imaginary as both an imperial rival and an object of German power. During the interwar years in particular, Russia, now under Soviet rule, became a site onto which Germans projected their imperial ambitions and expectations for the future, as well as their worst anxieties about modernity. Casteel shows how the Nazis drew on this cultural repertoire to construct their own devastating vision of racial imperialism.
Russia in the German Global Imagination is a well-written, knowledgeable, and insightful analysis of the Germans' ambivalence toward the empire in the east--an ambivalence that in the beginning of the twenty-first century resembles what it was at the beginning of the twentieth.
Since the end of World War II, great scholarly attention has been paid to German perceptions of Russia. . . . This long history sets a high bar for any new work to significantly contribute to our understanding of this subject, and yet that is exactly what James E. Casteel has achieved. . . . an excellent and highly informative study on the subject of German views of Russia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that should interest a wide range of students and scholars.