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Europe: A History Paperback – 2 Oct 1997

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Europe: A History
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Product details

  • Paperback: 1392 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (2 Oct. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712666338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712666336
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 5.7 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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)

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

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 July 2002
Format: Paperback
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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
Walter Kaufmann's translation of Nietzsche's declaration that `There are no facts, only interpretation' is singularly the most apt description of historical works. We are attracted to history because we hold the belief that by understanding the past, we can understand the present, and thus plot our path to a happier future. Our folly lies in the concurrent belief that history renders an unerring account of the past. But history can never be `an objective compilation of facts', as E H Carr tells us in `What is History' (2001 Palgrave). This causes as much trouble to the historian as it does to his readers.

To make the venture of reading history not just rewarding but pleasurable, the history reader ought first to select the area of his interest before he selects his book. He can choose specific countries, or the entire continent of Europe, or just specific epochs. A comprehensive survey of the history of Europe may be found in several works but they all comprise so many volumes that only the very serious history scholars consult them. `Europe' by Norman Davies is not a small book. At 1335 pages long (excluding the index) Davies' book presents a formidable challenge to the prospective reader, but once he finds the courage or curiosity to turn to the first pages, he will not put it down till he has absorbed every page, every cross-reference (tucked neatly in boxed lines near the general point), and every map and appendix.

Many historical interpretations carry a mix of stories, legends, and reactions, but there is no confusion in Davies' account.
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153 of 159 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
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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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Lynch on 28 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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