- Hardcover: 1384 pages
- Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press; First Edition edition (1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198201710
- ISBN-13: 978-0198201717
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 2.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,937,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Europe: A History Hardcover – Import, 1996
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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 Paperback 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 Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Mr. Davies is known for his earlier work on Poland. Thus it is not surprising that Eastern Europe gets more attention from him than it does from most other “western” writers. Hence his book may be in some sense more balanced; but at times the preoccupation with the East leads to distractions. For instance, he interrupts his discussion of the French revolution by introducing simultaneous events in Poland. He feels that earlier books have insufficiently emphasized the evils of the Soviet Union—which is not a shortcoming of this one.
A few odd features of this book may be noted. Mr. Davies likes to think of Europe not as a continent, but rather as a peninsula of the Eurasian landmass. In keeping with this view his maps are all oriented with west at the top and east at the bottom, making Europe look like an upraised thumb. I found this self-indulgent and heartily confusing; it slows down one's comprehension of the many maps that are supplied. Another peculiarity is the insertion of what the author calls “capsules,” which are miniature discussions of special topics, more-or-less related to the main material. These things give the book the feeling of a textbook (where they are very often used as relief entertainments for students who are expected to be bored.) Moreover the capsules have their own system of notes, with a separate section of explanations at the back of the book. The main text contains references to the capsules, but in order find a certain capsule you have to refer to a special table of contents, also at the back. The upshot is that it's quite hard to find reference notes in this book.
My greatest complaint about this (paperback) volume is that it is just too thick. You will need strong hands, if you are to hold it in front of you for very long. And if you read it in bed, it will crush your chest and stop your breathing. That is another reason for browsing in this book, rather than trying to read it straight through.
Also, zooming into the page-sized images does not work well on the Kindle as it has the restriction that a zoomed picture must fit within the screen entirely. This means that for some maps, the smallest letters are not readable on the screen.
Lastly, some of the nice tables on paper are hard to read in the e-book version.
The e-book is nice to have next to the paper version because the kindle weighs much less, and because the dictionary is close by which also includes geographical entries making it easier to understand the text.
I read it for 10 years. Once I finish it, I start again. Different interests move the focus: rome, celts, wars, barbarian, etc.
The secret and recipe: take a good historian, well formed, add interest in good writing to all public and let him work for decades. When he is done, recognized and fearless of loosing the job and or friends, engage him on writing the story of Europe, as he sees it. Norman did that and created a superb book, which is scientific but also a novel. Clever, pungent, shocking.
Keeps you young.
I knew what I was getting into after reading Davies other tome, 'The Isles', so there was no surprise for me in store in this book.
Some readers however might take offence to the authors bashing bashing of his peers, especially his own countrymen and their nationalistic views. To me but there is no better volume out there on the history on the vague and ambiguous are of lands that we call Europe.
Be prepared to come away from this book with a totally different view on what it means to be not only European, but to be of this world, to be a believer in Christ, or a follower of Mohammad. Leave at the door your perceptions of what it means to be a speaker of Germanic or Romance or Slavic languages.
This book will leave all your long held theories and beliefs in the dusts of history..