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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable education... and entertaining too!
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,...
Published on 24 July 2002

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Kindle edition
For those who don't know, Davies' book is organised into reasonably long narrative chapters (eg Greece, Rome, etc) interspersed with smaller 'capsules' on specific people, places or contexts dotted around the text. I assume this works in the print editions with a different font or some other typographical element to mark them out as different. But ... the scanning for the...
Published on 18 Jan 2012 by LDNSE16


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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable education... and entertaining too!, 24 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Europe: A History (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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147 of 152 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
This review is from: Europe: A History (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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A goldmine of information!, 25 May 2009
By 
Erik Cleves Kristensen "ECK" (Mozambique) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Europe: A History (Paperback)
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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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent within the constraints of the format, 28 Mar 2006
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Gerard Lynch "paddingtonw2bear" (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Europe: A History (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. They also seem peculiarly anti-Russian and have dated quite rapidly.
I'm not quite sure if the capsule idea works. In 1992 it must have seemed very cutting edge, a harbinger of an internet still unknown to the general public. Now they seem a bit dated, and while they contain much of interest they sometimes distract from the flow of the narrative.
Still, one of the telling tests of a work such as this is how it wears. After more than a decade, this still reads very well.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Kindle edition, 18 Jan 2012
This review is from: Europe: A History (Kindle Edition)
For those who don't know, Davies' book is organised into reasonably long narrative chapters (eg Greece, Rome, etc) interspersed with smaller 'capsules' on specific people, places or contexts dotted around the text. I assume this works in the print editions with a different font or some other typographical element to mark them out as different. But ... the scanning for the Kindle edition is such that all such subtleties are lost. The capsules are spliced into the page in exactly the same sized font whenever they appear on the printed page.

In short, you're reading about Bulgaria under Ottoman rule, there is a capsule on the arrival of the Gypsies and then, without warning, we're back in the Balkans with the sentence "Serbia suffered the same fate". Click back a few pages and it makes sense, the same fate as Bulgaria, not the Gypsies - but this is no way to read a book of this length. On one occasion a numbered list from a medieval pope on how he should conduct himself is split in two by a capsule on the Hanseatic League (the numbered list resumes several pages later on point 22) while Shakespeare's "This scept'red isle" serves as two slices of bread to a sandwich with a capsule on quantitive history as its filling. I'm sure its not what either Davies or Shakespeare would have wanted. There are also numerous scanning-introduced typos such as 'poUtical' for 'political' and Louis XTV for Louis XIV. It's clearly not been proofread.

It's a shame because there is nothing wrong with the capsules, someone just needs to fix how they work in an ebook. The irony is that Davies, writing in the early 1990s, was clearly taken with ideas of hypertext that were to emerge through the world wide web and wrote the capsules with links to each other and from the narrative text. You could imagine an electronic version that allowed such behaviour, but this is not it.

I've found Europe hard to read so I won't give a review for the book itself, other than to say ... I actually much preferred Davies' Vanished Kingdoms. He writes in the introduction about how histories of Europe deal with the rise of a few western powers but that is (largely) this book too. I wonder if Vanished Kingdoms was the European history he wanted to write - in the spaces between tales of Visigoths, Ruthenians and Burgundians a history of Europe emerges from a fresh perspective.
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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 review is from: Europe: A History (Paperback)
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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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I now want to know more about everything, 30 Oct 2003
This review is from: Europe: A History (Hardcover)
This was deeply educational in a way no other history book has been for me. It got me interested in each stage and theatre of European history. I am now hungry for more on religion in the Balkans under the Ottomans, the differing legal systems of pre-revolutionary France, trade and diplomacy in the Hanseatic league and countless other subjects that I previously knew nothing of or thought of as deadly boring and unimportant. The point about Poland being over represented may be true but it does not take away from this brilliant book. I will definately read more from this man.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brain food worth a Michelin star, 8 Dec 2006
By 
RP (Luxembourg) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Europe: A History (Paperback)
I read this on the bus to and from work. School kids see this weighty tome and must assume that i am a schoolmaster as they desist form sitting next to me with their annoying zzzzz things in thier ears. Almost worth the chore of lugging it about for that alone. But it puts it all in context with a bird's eye view centred approximactely over Hungary. Seeing the interlacing of invasions, tribal movements, the Roman Empire and religion all intermeshed.

It looks at all the interests in the growth of power and the power competitions without national hubris and interest - oh that every flag waving nationalist in every part of the World could see some of their treasured myths so analysed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 25 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Europe: A History (Kindle Edition)
The print edition is 1300 pages of pure gold but its size and scope make it possible to spend half a day getting lost in it whilst trying to look something up! The Kindle edition is all but a one-book argument for buying a Kindle: keyword searches make using the book much more efficient and the citations are live, which vastly eases things if you want to see where he quotes from. It's also much more comfortable to read this on the kindle than in print.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 31 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Europe: A History (Paperback)
I've spent the best part of forty years reading European histories. This is the most comprehensive, one-volume work I've come across.
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Europe: A History
Europe: A History by Norman Davies (Paperback - 2 Oct 1997)
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