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Europe: A History [Paperback]

Norman Davies
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Oct 1997
From the Ice Age to the Cold War, from Reykjavik to the Volga, from Minos to Margaret Thatcher, Norman Davies here tells the entire story of Europe in a single volume. It is the most ambitious history of the continent ever undertaken.

Product details

  • Paperback: 1392 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (2 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712666338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712666336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 15.6 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 57 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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144 of 149 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertainment and Information for the whole summer. 14 April 1999
By A Customer
This book kept me entertained for the whole of last summer. An epic history of Europe from the stone age to (nearly) the present day, it manages to deal with both broad themes and small details to give a great impression of the shaping of a continent. Small "capsules" of a few pages are scattered within the main text, each dealing with an individual, or a monument, or an idea which help one see how many small stories go towards making history. A refreshing change, compared to other European history books, is that this book deals with the whole of Europe, not just the west. Anyone trying to unravel the present crisis in the Balkans will find just how far back the troubles go. I would recomend anyone with even the sightest interest in history to give this book a go.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars European history for Europeans
Excellent book. Written in truly European spirit, must be on the bookshelf of every European!
Published 13 days ago by R. Zavnik
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 2 months 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 2 months 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 3 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 5 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 5 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 6 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 6 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 7 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 7 months ago by David Atkins
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