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3.6 out of 5 stars
The Penguin History of Europe
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2012
I thought this was a superb history of Europe. It focusses on overall economic, demographic and geopolitical developments, rather than simple narrative histories of individual countries. I'd read quite a lot of European history when I tackled this (about a decade ago), but found it to be much more penetrating in it's analysis than almost anything I'd read up until that time.

If you're looking to understand the political history of individual European dynasties, this isn't the right book. However, if you want to understand (for example) how the shift in economic and political power from southern Europe to northern Europe during the second millennium CE was associated with an equivalent demographic shift, this will do the job. I found it riveting. I would highly recommend it.

Regards

Peter Baker
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2002
I'm interested in history but while I know a reasonable amount about British history I thought it was about time I extended my knowledge (purely for pleasure, not for studying).
I chose this book because it covers the period from year dot to the 1990's all in about 600 pages - i.e. pretty short.
I found this book relatively easy going, although I certainly wouldn't recommend it as bedside reading. Also the history pre "the middle ages" is very focused on religion - as you'd expect - but I had no knowledge in this area so I found parts heavy going.
This is an excellent book to give you a (very) brief idea of events in Europe and to understand why the Europe that we live in now is how it is.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2009
This is not a history of Europe in the sense that it tracks the development of the major European countries.
It seems focused on the relation of Europe (seen as an entity) with the rest of the world. Thus several major events in the history of Europe are ignored or only mentioned in passing. Examples: the Russian revolution, the French revolution and the civil war in Spain.
A history of Europe must perhaps be supposed to be superficial, but the lack of background on the Russian revolution is to say the least a bit surprising.
More worrying are the numerous inaccuracies in the book. An example: the claim that fascism didn't get any following in Germany till 1933, is misleading and wrong. It had a substantial following even at the founding of the Weimar Republic. Already in 1919 during the revolution in Berlin and Bayern the socialist government had to rely on support of the Freikorps (right wing militia) to suppress communist uprising. These militia formed the nucleus of Hitler's power base.
Another typical example is the formation of the Dutch republic between 1568 and 1648. On this page I counted at least 4 errors.
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on 25 May 2015
Penguins history books are very fine. It`s Unique. When studying e.g. the reformation,one needs to know about the background for the reformation.It is all here: emperor,principalities or what mattered in the history of Martin Luther.It is nice to read history. The study of history is an important supplement to the knowledge of the church.
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15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2001
This is a recommended book for a European studies course and it is easy to see why. It is well written with enough detail for someone new to the subject and for those wanting a little reminder about a period of history
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on 8 May 2015
I can't stop reading it!
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2011
I cannot begin to describe how difficult this book is to read, not because of the subject but because of the use of English. Often a whole paragraph is used where a single sentence would have been sufficient. In some places two pages for one sentence! Sentences are often concatenated three times with excessive use of commas. I often found myself having to re-read paragraphs a few times in an attempt to grasp what the author is trying to communicate. There are marked differences in quality between the sections (possibly because some have been proof read and corrected and the others have not). If you need a good example flick to the start of the Medieval section and try to work out what the author is trying to say in the first three pages.

The subject follows the history from before the roman empire to present focussing on religion. Unfortunately the key facts (such as locations) are often left out. Religion is given too much weight in the development of early Europe without any justification. For example Islam is given credit for rapid technological and philosophical development without any consideration for culture, environment, war, external influence and resources.

I do not recommend this book for study by anyone who is still developing English skills and could be influenced by the style of writing. It does not provide a factual chronological description of the history nor does it provide critical analysis of historical record. For anyone else looking for an interesting read I suggest you save yourself some pain and look elsewhere.

In summary: a periphrasic and circumluctory book written in the style of a acedemia which is not suitable for general human consumption.
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