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Europe: A History [Paperback]

Norman Davies
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 1998
From the Ice Age to the Cold War and beyond, from Reykjavik to Riga, from Archimedes to Einstein, Alexander to Yeltsin, here between the covers of a single volume Norman Davies tells the story of Europe, East and West, from prehistory to the present day. The book's absorbing narrative lays down the chronological and geographical grid on which the dramas of European history have been played out. It zooms in from the distant focus of Chapter One, which explores the first five million years of the continent's evolution, to the close focus of the last two chapters, which cover the twentieth century at roughly one page per year. In between, Norman Davies presents a huge and sweeping canvas packed with fascinating detail, analysis, and anecdote. Alongside Europe's better-known stories - human, national, and continental - he brings into focus areas often ignored or misunderstood, remembering the stateless nation as well as the nation-state. Minority communities, from heretics and lepers to Jews, Romanies, and Muslims have not been forgotten. This masterly history reveals not only the rich variety of Europe's past but also the many and rewarding prisms through which it can be viewed. Each chapter contains a selection of telephoto `capsules', illustrating narrower themes and topics that cut across the chronological flow. Davies then concludes with a wide-angle `snapshot' of the whole continent as seen from one particular vantage point. The overall effect is stunning: a kind of historical picture album, with panoramic tableaux interspersed by detailed insets and close-ups. Never before has such an ambitious history of Europe been attempted. In range and ambition, the originality of its structure and glittering style, Norman Davies's Europe represents one of the most important and illuminating history books to be published by Oxford. Time Capsules 201 fascinating articles interspersed throughout the narrative focus on incidents or topics as various as The Iceman of the Alps, Erotic Graffiti at Pompeii, Stradivarius, and Psychoanalysing Hitler. Each capsule can be tasted as a separate self-contained morsel; or can be read in conjunction with the narrative into which it is inserted. Snapshots 12 panoramic overviews across the changing map of Europe freeze the frames of the chronological narrative at moments of symbolic importance, such as Knossos 1628 BC, Constantinople AD 330, and Nuremberg 1945. A fully illustrated history Incorporates over 100 superbly detailed maps and diagrams, and 32 pages of black and white plates.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 1392 pages
  • Publisher: Us Imports (Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060974680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060974688
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.8 x 5.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,316,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Books of real quality and importance are rare. Norman Davies's history of Europe is one of them. It is a brilliant achievement, written with intelligence, lucidity and a breathtaking width of knowledge... This is a book everyone should read" (A. C. Grayling Financial Times)

"A noble monument of scholarship, and all the more noble because it is so full of surprise and feeling... There are superb assessments of vastly daunting subjects" (Jan Morris Independent)

"Monumental, authoritative... A book for enquiring minds of all ages, it will answer hundreds of enquires and provoke thousands more" (Noel Malcolm Sunday Telegraph)

"No history of Europe in the English language has been so even-handed in its treatment of east and west... Strong characterisation, vivid detail, trenchant opinions, cogent anaylsis all make this tremendous reading" (Times Literary Supplement) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Norman Davies' seminal biography of a whole continent; 'it brims with learning, crackles with common sense, coruscates with wit and abounds in good judgement' - Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Sunday Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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THERE is a marked deteminism about many descriptions of Europe's environmental history. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable education... and entertaining too! 24 July 2002
By A Customer
A history book as comprehensive as this one is obviously subject to thousands of criticisms from the different territorial, cultural, political,... perspectives. However, and I think here lays the tremendous value of the volume, I had never learnt so much about European history and the origins of Western civilization while at the same time enjoying thoroughly the style, the anecdotes, and continuous flow of events which are never isolated but shown as causes and effects of each other. If more of History could be told in such an entertaining tone, I think our overall education would be far superior.
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143 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The impression of a 15 year old... 21 Mar 1999
By A Customer
In a word? Superb. If you dont have time to read this review, and are in any way interested in the history of one of the most historically complex parts of the world, just go and buy it. Trust me...
If you have a bit more time, let me firstly present one point. If you are solely interested in the history of the dictators of the twentieth centuary, or the rise and fall of the Roman empire, dont buy this book. Because, as the author states in the introduction, it isnt attempting to give a highly specialised view of every section of european history. What it attemps to do, and suceeds admirably, is to provide the interested reader with a superb general overview of europe from the ice ages, right up to the present day. Dont for a second assume, however, that this book is a lightweight. It weighs in at over 1300 pages of small type, with lengthy appendices. Being only 15, (although I am keenly interested in history and reading), I was slightly unnerved by the appearance of this at my birthday. Could I remain interested for 1300+ pages? That night, I opened the first page and was hooked. The book is written in a clear, concise, engaging and genuinely interesting fasion, and it is obvious that the author has a genuine interest and passion for his subject, as im sure a lot of readers will have after completing this book. Simply, it is a classic. I will have it on my bookshelf for years, and hopefully for the rest of my life.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent within the constraints of the format 28 Mar 2006
An enormous tome which I plodded through a few pages at a time and use to beat off muggers; a survey so surface-level that it leaves you gasping for more; a thoroughly enjoyable read. These statements seem contradictory but all apply to this book. This is as comprehensive as a single-volume history of Europe can manage to be, and yet it still but skims the surface of the story of this magnificently diverse and dynamic continent in which we are blessed to live.
Davies is a Poland specialist and he uses his knowledge of the country's intricacies to illuminate the experience of the whole continent; as indeed he does also with his native Oxfordshire. To my mind, this is a strength, rather than a weakness as long as one remembers that the specific often serves as an exemplar for the general. The contributions of small, historically peripheral and often forgotten parts of Europe are woven seamlessly into the weft of Davies' narrative - Ireland, Sicily, Latvia, Ukraine. Nor is the story of ideas, of economies and of science is not lost among the dreary procession of wars and dynasties.
There is also a useful set of maps and raw data contained in the appendices.
As for criticism, while any work of this sweep is going to have difficulty separating people and concepts in the minds of its readers, I find the procession of minor royal figures and complex webs of intermarriage in medieval times particularly difficult. Perhaps Davies could have set out more clearly who ruled where and when, and what the relationships between them.
Also, Davies finishes weakly after a strong book. Speculation is, naturally, mere speculation but Davies predictions for the future read too much like a senior common room conversation after a few glasses of wine.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A goldmine of information! 25 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is one of the best I have ever read, simply because I cannot put it down. The immense amount of information is positively overwhelming: one gets a sense of the immensity of the changes that Europe has gone through, and the movements, ideas and struggled that have formed the continent, not only to what it is today, but also continues forming it today. I think every European should read this, because it gives an idea that Europe is the complex result of a history that does not stop at the borders of the individual nation-states of today, but that the interrelations have always existed.
The book may seem intimidating because of its sheer size and information, but I must admit that I was unable to put it down for long, and that many things I read just made me want to read more: I needed the internet and my library card to look up more information on the hundreds of subjects that I wanted to learn more abot.
These types of books are the greatest treasures you can have.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I now want to know more about everything 30 Oct 2003
This was deeply educational in a way no other history book has been for me. It got me interested in each stage and theatre of European history. I am now hungry for more on religion in the Balkans under the Ottomans, the differing legal systems of pre-revolutionary France, trade and diplomacy in the Hanseatic league and countless other subjects that I previously knew nothing of or thought of as deadly boring and unimportant. The point about Poland being over represented may be true but it does not take away from this brilliant book. I will definately read more from this man.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars history of europe
I have to be honest, I havn't started this book yet, so can't really comment regarding it. I actually read a review which caught my eye and that's what made me buy it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ailsa salton
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating book with excellent observations about the history of...
This book presents a fascinating history of Europe. The book is peppered
with additional comments to make the reading even more interesting. Read more
Published 1 month ago by LCSG
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary scholarship
I sound this especially valuable as a concise reference for the major events leading up to the two world wars in the 20th century.
Published 2 months ago by Bob B
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book for history buffs.
Great value for money - with over 1100 narrative pages plus large detailed appendices, notes and index, this hardback book gives a comprehensive history of Europe. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Eric D.
5.0 out of 5 stars superb
brilliant book both readable and full of facts. sort of book one can dip in and out of or read larger subjects in one go. easy to recognise important facts.
Published 4 months ago by David Rait
3.0 out of 5 stars not really as described but too bad either
the seller described it as 'very good' but in my opinion the book was merely 'good'. The dust cover was tatty and the spine broken. Read more
Published 5 months ago by risbov
5.0 out of 5 stars Books; A European History,
Although I have not yet been able to read my purchase, I can state that I cannot fault the seller for both product quality and prompt delivery.
Published 5 months ago by James T.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mammoth read but very readable
Realised I know so little about Europe and its history. Got this book and really pleased. Massive subject area but book never feels overwhelming and I find its very readable. Read more
Published 6 months ago by stu2222
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of Europe
Hughly comprehensive - a masterful work that is engrossing despite being very long. But then Europe does have a long and complex history.
Published 6 months ago by David Atkins
5.0 out of 5 stars ... Davies has by now got us used to his excellent books, so...
Professor Davies has by now got us used to his excellent books, so knowledgeable and yet so easily readable. This one is no exception. Read more
Published 8 months ago by E. Rui Batarda
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