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Blurb

Speed ​​and acceleration were completely alien to the world until the late Middle Ages. With the rise of long-distance trade, however, a development began in the 15th century in which the principle of speed first established itself in the transport, military and production sectors, and with industrialization also in most areas of work and life. In this exciting cultural history of acceleration, Peter Borscheid analyzes the development of the non-stop society with its light and dark sides. It portrays speed-loving racing drivers as well as soldiers in the raging machine gun fire of World War I and describes how even artists paid homage to speed. Michael Ende's Momo already recognized where a further increase in the pace might lead: "Time is life. And life lives in the heart. And the more people saved on it, the less they had."

Review note on Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 29, 2004

Peter Borscheid's "Cultural History of Acceleration" begins deep in the past, more precisely: at the end of the Middle Ages. This is where the "tempo" is discovered, in urban space. Three phases follow, the first, namely that of this discovery, begins in 1450. The next step occurs between 1800 and 1950 in the time of technology that produced the steam engine, the train, the car. We are now, since around 1950, in the "age of electronics", in which even the "categories of sequence and linearity" are beginning to falter. All this applies, as the reviewer Thomas Thiemeyer points out, of course only for the "western industrial nations". Their tempo history, however, will be worked up here in great detail. According to Thiemeyer, you don't learn anything really new, but the author convincingly brings together research areas that are very far apart. What one has to do without, of course, is the analytical penetration of the diagnoses compiled for cultural history. What remains: a very useful "inventory" of the acceleration tendencies.
Read the review at buecher.de

Review note on Die Zeit, May 19, 2004

With his new book, Peter Borscheid gives the reader an "impressive tableau of the light and dark sides" of our culture, says a delighted reviewer Rudolf Walther. In his cultural-historical study, the author documents the spread of the "Tempo virus" in different regions and epochs. Based on "a large number of special studies", such a work was created that "legibly" describes the change from a life with and after nature to a "speed rush" that was caused by industrialization, automobilization and modern science. Borscheid not only succeeded in presenting his results "well sorted" in a "broad-based" study, he also wrote a "colored representation" of the unheard-of acceleration mechanisms that permeate work and life more and more.

Review note on Neue Zürcher Zeitung, May 12, 2004

Oh, this speed, sighs the reviewer Arndt Brendecke - but at least you can retreat into a quiet "niche of slowness" with a good book every now and then - for example, to be shown how with a "fascinatingly dense description" it came about that speed is so highly valued by modern humans. Brendecke is not only impressed by the author's clear classification ("start phase" 1450-1800, "acceleration phase" 1800-1950, "tempo phase" since 1950), but also by his "simple but reflected argumentation": Against the background of one "Principle of slowness" the acceleration becomes visible and the development of the principle of speed into an imperative can be told. Peter Borscheid does this on the basis of a large number of evidence from all areas of life, and according to the reviewer he does it with a great deal of knowledge, extremely entertaining and also directs his gaze on the unseen. Nevertheless, Brendecke has an objection: "Acceleration is not only, as the author seems to assume, an objectively measurable fact", but also, for example, "part of the hope horizon of Judeo-Christian time traditions and the apparently always the same experience of the aging generations". The inclusion of such components of the "collective consciousness" could have given Borscheid's "often only descriptive diagnostics" a stronger foundation.

Review note on Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 7, 2004

The book has the "speed virus", it is completely infected by its topic, the increasing acceleration of all aspects of our life, Ernst Horst notes. And although it actually tells the same story a hundred times and therefore doesn't move in terms of content, it does it at a rapid pace. An idea, an excitement, a discovery, one story follows another, reports Horst, and you can't quite figure out whether he groans about it or not. In any case, Borscheid delivers "facts, facts, facts", prepared in the manner of a music video. Horst advises against reading the tape too hastily, as enjoyment quickly becomes stale. However, Horst finds the wealth of information quite impressive. A cultural history, he writes, that doesn't pretend to be more than that. Horst would have preferred the author to have done without part of his text, precisely because he only describes and does not analyze, says Horst. Wouldn't it have been better just to document and, above all, to illustrate more? He asks. Or instead of just mentioning a futuristic poem, either omit it or - taking the time - to reprint it in full?
Read the review at buecher.de

Review note on Frankfurter Rundschau, March 24, 2004

Reviewer Manfred Schneider celebrates Peter Borscheid's "cultural history of acceleration" as an "impressively comprehensive and detailed presentation" on the question of "how our world emerged from time management techniques". Hardly any aspect has been left out by the author, and the presentation remains "competent and up to date" in every detail. Certainly Paul Virilio founded the science of speed, dromology, about thirty years ago, but Schneider believes that Borscheid has now presented "a preliminary standard work on the subject" with this volume - not least because "acceleration" is one much older cultural force than could be seen from the point of view of Virilio, who is primarily interested in its modern, democratizing dimension. Borscheid, on the other hand, sets three phases in the history of acceleration: 1450-1800 (traffic systems), 1800-1950 (steam and electricity technologies) and 1950 until today (electronic accelerations). The reviewer was not won over by a certain culturally critical undertone of Borscheid, which can already be heard in the title. "It is not the evolutionary speed" that is the problem of our time, according to Schneider, "but different speeds".