The introduction discusses how the meanings of the mountains have changed during the modern era and the ways in which humans have given shape to the Alps through powerful constructive and destructive endeavors. The emergence of civic Alpine clubs in the mid-nineteenth century ties in with industrialization and the growth of organized tourism and mass consumerism. These civic outdoor organizations paved the way for greater environmental transformations of the mountains for the mass consumption of tourists. Germans and Austrians alpinists in particular engineered the landscape with designs to inspire an alternative sense of belonging and nationhood among their fellow citizens. Their efforts made the Alps the setting for three interwoven tales pivotal to the making of modern Germany and Austria: humans in nature, humans shaping nature, and nature as a contested national symbol.
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