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The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815 [Paperback]

Tim Blanning
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
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Book Description

28 Feb 2008

'The Penguin History of Europe series ... is one of contemporary publishing's great projects' New Statesman

The Pursuit of Glory brings to life one of the most extraordinary periods in European history - from the battered, introvert continent after the Thirty Years War to the dynamic one that experienced the French Revolution and the wars of Napoleon. Tim Blanning depicts the lives of ordinary people and the dominant personalities of the age (Louis XIV, Frederick the Great, Napoleon), and explores an era of almost unprecedented change, growth and cultural, political and technological ferment that shaped the societies and economies of entire countries.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014016667X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140166675
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

The Penguin History of Europe series ... is one of contemporary publishing's great projects (New Statesman)

About the Author

Tim Blanning is Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. His other books include The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture and The Rise and Fall of the French Revolution.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Communication is central to human existence. 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
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancien Regime 26 Oct 2008
By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent summary of 150 years of history from which one may then proceed to suspend more focussed histories. Tim Blanning has elected to go all Fernand Braudel on us and although the book is about the pursuit of glory he insists on taking us through the supports upon which this aristocratic tradition lies or lay before getting to the icing. The base of all wealth - the peasant is therefore given his proper place in the first section of the book. There then follows a review of power in these societies and of the role of religion. I found the latter particularly effective. Finally, for those of you who enjoy court armour and periwigs we get to an excellent summary of what is in practice the rise and fall of France. Here by using a macro view one can see many trends that are less easy to grasp when dealing with an individual Louis.

One comes away aware of how easily it could have been different. If Vienna had fallen to the Turks, if the French had stayed out of the American War, and if Prussia had lost Silesia. The Ancien Regime can in less skilled hands seem a sterile period before the excesses of nationalism; here we see it differently.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Took my breath away 3 July 2008
By Didier TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Before having read this book, I was largely ignorant about this period (1648 - 1815) in European history. Now, having read Tim Blanning's amazing book, I think that on the one hand I not only know a lot more but, on the other hand, remain conscious that I've barely scratched the surface (the suggested reading-list in itself covers some 11 pages, in small typescript) .

Contrary to what the title might seem to indicate, this book is about ever so much more than royalty and monarchs in the pursuit of glory. There's that too of course, but - as the titles to the four parts indicate - it's about life in all its aspects between 1648 and 1815:
- Part one: Life and death
- Part two: Power
- Part three: Religion and culture
- Part four: War and peace

In all, the book offers 677 pages (not counting the preface, suggested reading-list or index) densely packed with an amazing overview of virtually every major aspect of life in those days. This is no easy reading, but the rewards for making the effort to read this book with the attention and concentration it fully deserves are definitely worthwhile. What is also very refreshing is the fact that at times Blanning is not afraid to a) indicate that for some topics he can only give a short overview and b) freely admit that in some topics he's not a specialist.

Perhaps the best praise I can offer is that this book gave me an appetite to rush out to the bookstore and stock up on more to read about this fascinating period.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars historian's ambivalence...mostly 15 Oct 2007
By Tiro
Format:Hardcover
The existing reviews give a good sense for what this book covers and I would like to try to add a bit beyond what has been said. I am not a historian, just a general reader. (But the book was pitched to general readers, so I think I can have a say).

First, Mr. Blanning has clearly "been there, done that, and got the t-shirt to prove it" when it comes to his subject matter. He is the master of the choice example, which could only be achieved through extensive travel, terrific language skills, and years of thinking and teaching. He is positively interesting, and pulls the reader in. Would love to have dinner with this guy, my treat.

Second, like many great historians, Blanning is attracted to ambivalence. In the concluding chapter he is quite explicit: there are two narratives that can be maintained about this period, a progressive one and a pessimistic one. Actually, one would be very hard pressed to purely progressive or purely pessimistic - it's up to each person to mix the two according to taste and all sorts of mixes are plausible given the evidence. Maybe a more interesting way to put it is that this period of history is not one of pure progress by any means. Strikes me as realistic.

One of his favorite sources of ambivalence is whether "x" is a revolution or an evolution. As in industrial, commercial, communications, and so on. He seems to fall in the evolutionary camp but I found him hazy in his commitment - he strikes me as more "evolution with punctuated equilibrium." Again, realistic. Bottom-line: his ambivalences make him an interesting thinker.

In truth, I came close to giving him 4 stars, however, for several reasons.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This was a really well written and entertaining book. However, the author presupposes a lot of prior knowledge which I sadly lacked, making some of the material a bit challenging - probably not the best choice of read for the inexperienced but I have learned a great deal from reading it. There is a good chance that I'll do so again.

I was a bit disappointed by the balance of the content. I felt there is a disproportionate ammount of text devoted to the social history of the period and too little on the meaty political and military events, e.g the wars of the French revolution. I also thought that given that the book does not flow in strict chronological order then it would have really benefited from the inclusion of a simple summary chapter or timeline - something I think newbies to this period of European history would find very useful. That said, I still highly recommend it to anyone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars pursuit of glory
scholarly and serious account of the limited period, greater benefit if a good grounding on the period, otherwise moderately heavy textbook style. Read more
Published 15 months ago by duncane
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking. 6 stars.
"Pursuit of Glory" by Tim Blanning is an exciting grand tour of Europe between 1648 (the Treaty of Münster) and 1815 (the end of Napoleon). Read more
Published 18 months ago by Basileus
3.0 out of 5 stars Panoramic, pointilliste - or pointless? Hang onto your hats!
I suppose if you only had one history book this switchback whistle-stop tour might as well be it, but Professor Blanning is more taken with the seashells than the horizon. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Simon Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars early modern Europe
It took me a while to get through this book but i enjoyed it all the way through. i don't there is another book out there that will give you a more complete picture of early modern... Read more
Published on 11 April 2012 by john
2.0 out of 5 stars Europe 1648-1815
Tim Blanning may not be personally in pursuit of glory, but judging by the back page blurb he has achieved a good deal of it. Read more
Published on 22 July 2010 by S Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and entertaining
Really superb book in both the way it is written in a well structured engaging manner, but also the broad range of subject matter that is addressed. Read more
Published on 29 Jan 2010 by G. W. Mclean
5.0 out of 5 stars history as it should be
this is a book with a sweeping subject both geographically and timevise,
but it manages to give the reader a remarkably detailed sense of its subject while being both an easy... Read more
Published on 15 May 2009 by Jesper Schnipper
5.0 out of 5 stars verweile doch, du bist so schön
The period from the peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna has the virtue for the high-end popular historian of being close enough in time and culture to be relevant, while... Read more
Published on 2 Nov 2007 by S. Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing read
Could'nt put this down! The opening chapter on communications will have you rivetted from the start.
Published on 20 Aug 2007 by Kern O. Neill
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