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16 Pages

Prologue Strasbourg, Betwixt and Between

Strasbourg has been the first continental European city in which the author have ever dwelt, very simply, land stretches off in all directions. Strasbourg sits right across the Rhine bridges from Germany's prosperous Land of Baden-Wurttemburg. Of ambiguous national status and an icon of Franco-German enmity, Strasbourg as capital of Alsace-Lorraine was twice during the twentieth century a casus belli. The most striking rivalry of all was the Franco-German one. It focused in large measure on Alsace-Lorraine, with Strasbourg as its capital. Invulnerability has never been Strasbourg's strong suit. Strasbourg has always had to watch its geopolitical back. Despite the accreted patina of age, architecturally glorious Strasbourg does not represent some Rhenish urban consummation stylishly achieved. Parked vehicles had been torched in Strasbourg's night-time streets by disaffected youths long, long before so aggressive an urban sport became the icon of the French riots in the fall of 2005.