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The Distorted Past: A Re-interpretation of Europe Hardcover – June 8, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0631176220 ISBN-10: 0631176225 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (June 8, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631176225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631176220
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,262,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"... an excellent counterpoint to traditional Western civilization texts .... Highly recommended for libraries at all levels." Social & Behavioural Sciences

Language Notes

Text: English
Original Language: Spanish

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Khalid Alserkal on February 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover

This book turns the received wisdom of European history inside out. From discussions of the Gothic, Hun and Vandal invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire, through other significant events and issues of European history, Josep Fontana re-examines the traditional acceptance of such ideas as classical heritage, medieval Christendom, reformation and counter-reformation, absolutism and the idea of progress. At the same time he draws attention to the existence and validity of dissidence, rebellion and variety which are, for him, identifying marks of Europe.

From the time of the Ancient Greeks, the European peoples have defined themselves a sense of superiority by comparing their societies, cultures and traditions with those of their neighbours and with communities encountered further afield. These others were (and sometimes still are) described by Europeans as less civilized, primitive or barbaric. Yet Europe was in reality very far from possessing the distinct and elevated identity of its self-image; indeed, the author goes further, for he contends that the persistence of the illusion, enshrined in standard European history, has wide-ranging implications in how European societies both perceive their present and understand their past.

Throughout the book, the author takes into account recent historical trends and debates. This is a remarkable blend of synthesis and scholarship vividly brought to life by constant incident and exemplification. The result is an inspired reassessment of Europe's history.
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