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Europe: A History [Paperback]

by Norman Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 20, 1998 0060974680 978-0060974688
Here is a masterpiece of historical narrative that stretches from the Ice Age to the Atomic Age, as it tells the story of Europe, East and West. Norman Davies captures it all-the rise and fall of Rome, the sweeping invasions of Alaric and Atilla, the Norman Conquests, the Papal struggles for power, the Renaissance and the Reformation, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Europe's rise to become the powerhouse of the world, and its eclipse in our own century, following two devastating World Wars. This is the first major history of Europe to give equal weight to both East and West, and it shines light on fascinating minority communities, from heretics and lepers to Gypsies, Jews, and Muslims. It also takes an innovative approach, combining traditional narrative with unique features that help bring history alive: 299 time capsules scattered through the narrative capture telling aspects of an era. 12 -snapshots offer a panoramic look at all of Europe at a particular moment in history. Full coverage of Eastern Europe—100 maps and diagrams, 72 black-and-white plates.All told, Davies’'s Europe represents one of the most important and illuminating histories to be published in recent years.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

No historian in his or her right mind would tackle such a gargantuan hunk of history as the whole of European politics, society, culture, and war since the beginning of time, write a book about it, and entitle it Europe: A History. This is not to say Norman Davies is not in his right mind. It's just that his effort here is less a magnum opus than a rush through the quirks of the ever-influential amalgamation of countries called Europe. There's plenty on which to seize, and Davies does so with a flair for style and an eye for the peculiar rarely exhibited by those who normally concern themselves with recording history. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The pre-eminent scholar of Polish history, Davies (God's Playground and Heart of Europe) expands his focus to all of Europe. While the book is bulky, its size is hardly adequate to a complete history of the continent from pre-history to the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In addition, as one might expect, Davies has taken great pains to treat countries other than England, France and Germany as legitimate parts of Europe?not just as the thresholds over which barbarians crossed. ("For some reason it has been the fashion among some historians to minimize the impact of the Magyars," Davies writes when discussing what would become central Europe. "All this means is that the Magyars did not reach Cambridge.") The book works because his subject is not the constituent countries but the continent as a whole. Thus, while Elizabeth I gets one brief mention in passing, Aristide Briand, the French foreign minister who tried to effect a Franco-German reconciliation until the Nazis won power, gets several paragraphs. Aside from defining what Europe is and giving all countries their due, Davies also tries to show the joys of an inclusive reading of historical subjects (he disparages excessive specialization and writes admiringly of the Annales school). A master of broad-brushstroke synthesis, Davies navigates through the larger historical currents with the detail necessary to a well-written engaging narrative.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 1392 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060974680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060974688
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 2.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Norman Davies C. M. G., F. B. A. is Professor Emeritus of the University of London, a Supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and the author of several books on Polish and European history, including God's Playground, White Eagle, Red Star, The Isles, Europe, and Microcosm.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
117 of 124 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book has proven to be one of my most valuable desk references. I wished I had bought the hardback, given the wear and tear on it over the 6 years I have had it. Davies has done a marvelous job of condensing a tremendous amount of history into one volume. He approaches it in a three-fold way. He provides a richly flowing narrative that covers the story of Europe much like an epic novel. He intersperses the narrative with an extensive series of "Capsules" that take in special events and interesting asides in the development of a European identity. Lastly, he provides a massive set of appendices that cover everything from royal lines to WWII death tolls.
The narrative is divided into a set of 12 chapters that cover broad periods of time starting with the environment and prehistory of the contintnet to the Cold War era. Davies has a tremendous command of the events which shaped Europe. His strength lies in his understanding of Eastern Europe, and in particular Poland, expanding the breadth of the continent beyond its usual eastern borders. In fact one might say that Davies has made the case to rethink European history along Eastern European lines, which is the logical extension of his earlier two-volume history of Poland. He takes in Russian history, with special attention to its Slavic roots. He deals with the inevitable conflicts that arose and provides good summaries of the World Wars. He deals with the restoration of Western Europe and the demise of Eastern Europe following WWII along ideological lines, noting how one rose at the expense of the other. He chooses to end his narrative with the collapse of the Soviet Union, providing a short epilogue on his thoughts concerning the new allignments in Europe.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Balanced Perspective On European History September 8, 2002
Format:Paperback
This is a totally absorbing, sparkling romp over the just completed millennium of European history. A fantastic job, although I will agree with other reviewers that this can be a tough read if you are not already familiar with much of the range of ethnic and national history.
Davies clearly states his premise in the Introduction.....his desire to provide a single volumn survey that provides an evenly magnified view from both the number of pages per year and the geographic/ethnic perspective of the writer. His objective is to avoid focusing on recent centuries or recently predominant cultures at the expense of more distant or less studied times or regions. This alone is a worthy effort and makes the entire tome almost an obligatory read for a serious amateur historian like myself.
Davies provides several ingenious aids to your perspective as you plow through this vast field of information. There are 300 capsules that entertain as well as provide tangential sideshows. (Did you know that Pope John Paul II approved the exhumation of Elizabeth of Austria's tomb in 1973 in an attempt to foser Polish patriotism, yet 16 people may have died from the bacilli that were released? Or, how about stretching your mind by trying to comprehend the horror of Stalin's genocidal act of state policy as he created an artificial famine by cordoning off the Ukraine in 1932-3 until 7 million people were dead?) This is a powerful book.
Even better is the orientation of the European maps throughout the book so that you are looking at them with the west uppermost, thus viewing the continent as the first settlers (and more importantly, central and eastern Europeans) perceived their relationships.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Overview with Much Detail! January 2, 2001
Format:Hardcover
I have read both Robert's and Davies' books on general European history. Robert's book is an excellent, concise introduction to the history of Europe that can be read in several weeks. After reading Robert's text, one has a good concept and understanding of the "basics." Davies' book includes all of the data covered by Roberts but goes into much greater detail, including many names, locations, etc only alluded to in Robert's work. The "capsules" that occur throughout the volume are indeed irritating but sometimes interesting. The stressing of Eastern Europe is not a problem and often adds much interesting information. Davies' book is much more "meaty" than Roberts'. Thus, if you want a concise introduction and review of a very extensive topic, read Roberts; if you want a more comprehensive and involved text, read Davies; or ideally, read both but start with Robert's text!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My European Guidebook August 7, 2005
By Hoke
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I lived in Europe for 3 1/2 years while in the Army. I lived in Germany and was deployed to Kosovo for over a year. I traveled to nearly 20 countries and countless cities in that time. This book was with me for it all.

With this book Davies attempts the enormous task of trying to plot the entire history of Europe from its creation up until modern times. Although no work of this type could possibly be complete in one volume, Davies does a very good job in hitting almost everything you could want.

This is essentially a reference book. It gives you a good starting point on almost any subject or period you are interested in. I would suggest a basic knowledge of European history before trying to read this cover to cover like I did.

Even though it is rather bulky I took it with me on all of my travels. Every city I went to I used this to maximize my travel so that I could focus on what I thought would be most interesting. Lets face it a normal guidebook will bring you to the places a tourist would find interesting and not what is necessarily historically significant.

Although there are a lot of books that are more specific than this work in any given area none are as complete a compendium as this work is. If you are a student of history then this book is a necessity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars not organized, terrible maps
The author spends pages on insignificant dribble, he constantly is referring to towns, places,rivers and none of the maps are any help at all, WAY too much coverage on religions... Read more
Published 2 months ago by j brown
2.0 out of 5 stars Too hard to read.
It covers so much territory it is too hard to keep track of it. Not a bad book just wasn't what I expected.
Published 3 months ago by Deborah D. Ray
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book to get started understanding European history.
A great book to start understanding the nuances of European history. I like that it makes geographical placement an important element in understanding history.
Published 5 months ago by History Lover
2.0 out of 5 stars What history?
After a 46 page introduction describing what Europe is, the real history (if you want to call it that) begins. Unfortunately, Mr. Read more
Published 5 months ago by George C.
1.0 out of 5 stars No useful for me
I agree with other reviewers. This is not for the lighthearted.
If I was to recommend 1 thing to the author, I'd recommend maps. There are essentially NO maps. Read more
Published 6 months ago by S. Brunsvold
5.0 out of 5 stars historical review
This book,"Europe", is a masterpiece and even though printed in 1996,i has not only kept current with anthropology and ancient anthropology that i have seen in any other book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by enkilm
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Amazon unbeatable
It was a very good book. The price was impeccable versus the text. Again, the book was an excellent buy.
Published 6 months ago by Daniel Saunders
4.0 out of 5 stars Book is excellent, the e-book version is flawed
I enjoyed reading the book twice. Here is a remark that the e-book version cannot fully replace the paper version which I also own. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jan Willem Bikker
5.0 out of 5 stars masterpiece for a non european listener
This book and I met in London 2001. Colleagues from Kew Gardens were all reading it and telling me stories that amused and surprised me. Read more
Published 8 months ago by guillermo norrmann
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
For what I have read so far: and even though I am a fast reader - it takes time to read and think about - but so far it is quite thought provoking and excellent. Read more
Published 10 months ago by bill
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