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on 19 February 2004
In my view, this history of Portugal gives a distorted image of the country. It stresses the country's problems and plays down its achievements. The book pictures Portugal as a country struggling to establish a place on the world scene; modernise its economy and society; and secure political stability (!). In contrast, one can not find much on Portugal's gold age of the voyages of discovery and a worldwide maritime empire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In fact there is not much on the first centuries of Portugal as a country. The whole book is rather biased, giving a one-sided and not particularly flattering picture of Portugal. I much prefer the more objective and well-balanced approach of 'Portugal: A Companion History, by Jose Hermano Saraiva et al.
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on 7 November 2011
Anything positive about the history of Portugal is given a low profile or has chunks missing or is missed altogether. Anything less glorious is given ample development, with debatable historical accuracy. The 'golden age' apparently didn't merit a chapter of its own, had to be put together with the Lisbon earthquake, which occurred later, and dwell mainly on slavery and religious oppression. This is an example of what another reviewer has pointed out as a 'distorted' image of the country and its people.
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on 14 December 2012
If there is something good you can say about Portugal, let's keep it short and low profile. If there is something negative you can say about the country, let's blow it out of proportion. These appear to be the two criteria in this so-called history. On the age of Portuguese maritime expansion, not much credit is given to Portugal for its role in opening the way subsequently followed by other European nations. There is a lot though on corruption in Portugal's colonial presence, which in truth may have been less than the corruption from other colonial powers. Anyone wishing to know the country's history will be better off with a more objective work; and this can be easily found.
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on 13 October 2015
Far too small and too general. It is a rather negative piece and it fails to portrait and develop the most important age and the in depth analysis of the Avis dinasty. Do not recommend.
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on 27 April 2016
Concise, informative and surprisingly easy to read.
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on 20 April 2014
I bought this book for university and found it really useful to find the background to the events that we were studying. Certainly very useful for historians and learners of Portuguese.
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on 6 October 2001
As a student of Portuguese at KCL with very little prior knowledge of the country and it's history, this concise yet informative guide is proving to be a most rewarding purchase. Although it may not go into immense detail, the information provided gives a good grounding in the fascinating history of this wonderful country.
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on 15 August 2014
a good history
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on 19 July 2007
This is mainly a reaction to the reviewer who claims that this book gives a distorted picture. I do not agree at all: the book gives what its title promises. It is a well-written and objective account; only in the final chapters the author allows himself some understatement. The only problem I have with the book is its conciseness - there are many episodes in Portuguese history I would love to read more about.
I also read -with equal pleasure- the even more concise 'Portugal: A Companion History' by Jose Hermano Saraiva. Saraiva's style is a bit (only a bit) more formal and drier than Birmingham's. I do not have a preference for either one of the books. Both are recommended for anyone interested in Portuguese history.
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on 24 November 2009
This is a very good introduction to Portuguese history. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it is well written and entertaining throughout.

It is just the right length too, I've since read "Portugal A Companion History" by Saraiva which whilst also good, was a little too short.
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