- Hardcover: 848 pages
- Publisher: Viking; Reprint edition (January 5, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 067002273X
- ISBN-13: 978-0670022731
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations Hardcover – January 5, 2012
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A dozen-plus examples from European history constitute this ruminative disquisition on the impermanence of polities. Struck by popular amnesia about the existence of his selections, some of which endured for centuries (although one, the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine, lived but one day), Davies, from a traveler’s viewpoint, describes the contemporary appearance of each former state’s territory or principal city, then applies engrossing clarity to the history of its origin, ascent, and decline. Two states en route to expiration, Prussia and Savoy, left traces in contemporary Germany and Italy, but the rest are gone, submerged by dynastic politics, as were the duchy of Burgundy and the kingdom of Aragon, or hacked away and conquered by aggressive neighbors, as was the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Despite the subject of extinction, pessimism does not pervade Davies’ accounts, which detect a persistence of popular memory about each vanished state, encouraging advocates for its revival, as occurred in the cases of Poland and Lithuania. Having current relevance especially to the UK and Montenegro, Davies’ fascinating work harbors insights and discoveries for avid history readers. --Gilbert Taylor
“Densely packed yet commendably accessible, magisterial and uncommonly humane.”—The Boston Globe
“Hugely ambitious . . . From the mists, Mr. Davies summons the kingdoms; he records their emergence, their flowering and their demise—whether by ‘internall diseases’ or ‘forraign warre’ in Thomas Hobbes’s words. And he examines the traces that the kingdoms have left behind, in works of art or a piece of rock or perhaps just a place name.”—Wall Street Journal
“Davies resurrects the lands and peoples that were lost in the brutal tide of history. . . . He is presenting knowledge gained over a long lifetime of research. It takes a tremendous feat of empathy to write a detailed tome about countries and peoples that no longer exist. And the amount of information in Vanished Kingdoms that will be new to all but the most expert students of European history is staggering. . . . Fascinating facts and insights flutter on its many pages.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Davies has written short histories of 15 nations and states in a substantive volume that shows how so many past peoples have intertwined with the larger world and shaped it even after they are forgotten in the sands of time . . . an efficient, lively and important work, an outstanding addition to the histories of the human race.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Davies is well known as an iconoclast who punctures the comforting myths of countries that history has blessed . . . Vanished Kingdoms gives full rein to his historical imagination and enthusiasms, imparting a powerful sense of places lost in time. All across Europe ghosts will bless him for telling their long-forgotten stories.”—The Economist
“Davies performs autopsies of Europe’s cadaver-states, and like a skilled mortician he has a gift for making them appear lifelike. . . . There are wonders in this book worth discovering.”—The Nation
“Davies is certainly one of the best British historical writers of the past half century, and every gauntlet he throws down is bejeweled. His literary gifts and his capacity for what he nicely calls ‘imaginative sympathy’ are stretched to their limits by this challenging project. . . . Yet Davies succeeds, and it is quite a success.”—Timothy Snyder, The Guardian
“Brilliant . . . Davies asks us to contemplate European history in an entirely different way, seeing the map as a shifting patchwork of claims and identities, its complexion always changing, some states dying, others making unexpected revivals. . . . Vanished Kingdoms is distinguished by his extraordinary intellectual ambition and lovely eye for detail.”—Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times (London)
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