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A History of Europe Hardcover – December 1, 1997
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J. M. Roberts, author of a fine one-volume history of the world, offers a careful synthesis of European history from the Stone Age to the collapse of Communism in A History of Europe. His discussion is never very deep, as might be expected in a book that treats the whole of ancient Greek history in a mere 20 pages, but it is astonishingly broad. Roberts hits on almost all of the important points, especially the formation of trade networks, empires, and central governments. Literate and learned, A History of Europe is marred by a lack of notes and bibliography, but it is still serviceable as a survey text.
From Kirkus Reviews
A good narrative historian must know what to leave out, and few are as discriminating as Roberts (History of the World, not reviewed, etc.). In a relatively short span he offers, in a measured, nicely resonant prose, a survey of the succession of cultures from which modern Europe has emerged, stressing the wider implications and influences of events over local history, and concentrating on the evolution of thought and society rather than on a recitation of political and military strategies. What emerges is a coherent portrait of the forces that have shaped the continent and given it a distinctive identity, as well as the dominant ideas of mass democracies and the unique value of the individual. A lucid, convincing introductory guide, certainly the best such summation currently available. A good narrative historian must know what to leave out, and few are as discriminating as Roberts (History of the World, not reviewed, etc.). In a relatively short span he offers, in a measured, nicely resonant prose, a survey of the succession of cultures from which modern Europe has emerged, stressing the wider implications and influences of events over local history, and concentrating on the evolution of thought and society rather than on a recitation of political and military strategies. What emerges is a coherent portrait of the forces that have shaped the continent and given it a distinctive identity, as well as the dominant ideas of mass democracies and the unique value of the individual. A lucid, convincing introductory guide, certainly the best such summation currentl -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
Don't get the audio book. It's probably the worst audio book I ever listened to. It is probably narrated by the author who is not a good fit for audio narration. The whole book sounds like an in-flight announcement made by an English aristocrat and makes it unbearable to listen to.
I. Prehistory (Antiquity):
- 1000 BC: The rise of Ancient Greece and peoples surrounding the Aegean Sea. The Ancient Greeks, known as the Hellenes, developed a beautiful society and culture that produced brilliant philosophers Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato, theater, literature, and politics. Noted wars with Persia and Rome.
- Ancient Rome: The tradition of Hellenism continued in Roman society. In 336 BC, Alexander the Great assumed control of the Roman Empire, which formally existed from 31 BC to 476 AD. Jesus Christ, whose historical relevance is difficult to overstate, ironically lived from 6 BC to 33 AD. The Roman Empire was divided by Diocletian in 285 AD (East: Byzantium (330 AD-1453 AD); West: Rome). Christianity's growth in the Roman Empire was strongly evidenced by the ban of paganism in 380 AD by Theodosius I. Notably, the Eastern and Western divisions of the Roman Empire were drifting apart as the millennium continued.
-Approximately 800 AD: Growth in power of the Frankish Empire (Germanic) and Scandinavian Vikings; Anglo-Saxon movement and battle.
-1066: Norman (French et. al) Conquest of Normandy.
-1096; 1147-9; 1189; 1202; 1216; Etc.: "The Crusades."
-Middle Ages (Medieval): 476-1453. This period brought about the initial dispute between England and France ("100 Years War" - 1339-1453).
-Rise of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923), which subsumed Byzantium in 1453 AD.
II. Modern History (Approx. 1500 AD-Present)
- Renaissance: 14th-17th Century (growth of art, culture, printing & literature, enterprise; major geographical "discoveries" by the Europeans).
- Russia grew and expanded as a territorial power between 1462 and 1795.
- Vast growth of commerce; Christianity has stronghold in Europe.
- Colonization of North America: 1492-1784; growth of China & Japan; Britain in India (12/31/1599).
- Martin Luther (1517, 95 theses) & Lutheranism vs. Calvinism.
- The rise of nationalism: Late 17th Century to Present.
- King Louis XIV (1643-1715): Strict French ruler who increased France's international power and prestige - especially as a military land power. This coincided with the decline of Dutch regional power.
- Decline of the Ottoman Empire between 1683 and 1792.
-The monarchy was virtually the only form of government in Europe between 1715 and 1740.
-1776: American Independence; 1789: French Revolution; 1799: Napoleon comes to power.
-1800s: Dramatic population growth in Europe; growth of free trade and industrialization.
-1815: Treaty of Vienna - which created essentially a century of peace with a goal of containing France. Germany is on the rise at this time and is formally recognized in 1871.
- "The Scramble for Africa" - 1881.
- Last Emperor of China - Abdicated 02/12/1912.
- Growing Tensions in the late 19th Century: Cracks in European world hegemony; Japan as an aggressor (beginning of the 20th century); Germany as an aggressor (1890s forward - seeking international power and prestige); treaty discussions between France & Russia/ Germany & Britain.
-WWI: Six major powers: Germany, Hasburg Dual Monarchy, and Italy (the triple alliance) vs. Russia, France, and the U.K. The war was largely caused by expansionist greed and the Balkan Crisis. Concluded with the Treaty of Versailles (06/1919), which was significantly punitive towards Germany. The League of Nations was formed at this time and the Sykes-Picot Agreement was formalized (with Russia assent) between the U.K. (Jordan, S. Iraq, and select sea ports) and France (N. Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon). This agreement and subsequent related decisions continue to have an enormous impact on the region. Shortly after WWI, Germany is aggressive again, which leads to WWII (Germany, Italy, and Japan vs. Britain, France, the U.S.S.R., and later, the U.S.).
- The Cold War (1947-1991): Following defeat in WII, much greater sanctions are placed upon Germany, with the country formally split into East (Russian controlled) and West (Western influenced). Rise of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.; decolonization of Asia; Warsaw Pact (1955-1991): Treaty between the U.S.S.R. and Bloc states. U.S.S.R. becoming less extreme & modernizing in the 1960s. Kruschev removed in 1964. Under Gorbachev (1985-91), the Soviet economy was in shambles and the country was on the verge of a civil war or military coup. Soviet Bloc dissolves in 1990/91, and Yugoslavia (some still debate about whether the 1992 Yugoslav national team could have competed with the Dream Team - Divac, Dino, Drazen, Kukoc) and the U.S.S.R disintegrate in 1991/92.
-1990s: Question of European integration through the European Union; involvement of former Bloc countries.
Here's are a couple of examples from the section on Ancient Greece:
"One of the problems which always arises in examining other cultures is the avoidance of inappropriate terms. Greek categories of thought for example--the way, so to speak, in which they laid out the intellectual map before beginning to think about its individual components in detail--are not our own, though they settled some of them and are often deceptively like them. Some of those we use did not exist for the Greeks and they drew boundaries between fields of enquiry different from those which we take for granted. Often, this is obvious and presents no difficulties; Aristotle, for example, located the management of a household and its estate in a study he called 'politics,'and we are not likely to be misled by this."
A couple pages later:
"Factual awareness of the past of anyone living in Europe in the early years of the first millennium BC, though, would have been tiny or non-existent. Even their circumstantial and physical heritage would have been very small -- the scatter of megaliths, many of them, possibly, already no longer still related to their first purposes by those who used them, some established tracks (and no provided road anywhere) and a few places of sacredness or exchange where they might meet those who lived in different and equally narrow environments."