- Paperback: 1392 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 20, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060974680
- ISBN-13: 978-0060974688
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 190 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Europe: A History
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With Europe: A History, University of London professor Norman Davies has undertaken the near impossible: a synthetic one-volume overview of Europe from prehistory through the present. Remarkably, he has succeeded. Europe: A History is a conventional narrative, proceeding forward in time at a gradually decelerating pace. (The beginning covers millions of years of prehistory, while the final chapter discusses the 46 years between World War II and the book's publication.) But Davies's writing--vigorous, incisive, and confidently knowledgeable--carries the reader along, while the steady sweep of the main narrative is broken up by "capsules," boxed passages examining particular places, customs, or issues that cut across chronological lines. Davies, who has written two books on Polish history, also gives the eastern part of Europe its due coverage, unlike many of his predecessors, and manages to include commoners and the persecuted or ignored in his story along with the mighty and the royal. Europe: A History won't please everybody, but it's a highly intelligent, superbly readable overview that is certain to become a standard text. --This text refers to the Digital 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 the Digital edition.
Top customer reviews
I didn't read this book cover to cover. I use it as a reference, or just dive into some random chapter and start reading.
An amazing job by the author.
1. The author's thesis is that Europe developed internally based on the accumulation and interaction of events that occurred along its periphery, particularly its eastern periphery. The constant shifting of imperial contact points across the geographic and cultural landscape moulds many a paragraph within.
2. The narrative deconstructs the supremacy of western Europe, as we all know that the author's sympathies are in eastern Europe (and Poland in particular). This is not so much a criticism as an observation. You'll come away from this book with more respect for Poland, Austria and Hungary than for England, France and Spain.
3. Cultural and ethnic affiliations of the many peoples discussed in the book imply the author's fundamental assumption that people naturally prefer the company of people like themselves, rather than people different from themselves. The entire thesis rests on the infallibility of ethnic nationalism and its attachment to geography, which won't sit well with some readers. Davies sees a continent of lines rather than spaces.
4. This enormous paperback is printed with relatively low-quality ink and paper (so the publisher can control the cost). It's durability is quite poor, and used copies are certain to be yellowed, with faded text. Go ahead and buy it new.
Now that you've been properly forewarned, sit back and enjoy the ride.