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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable
To write a history of Europe since 1500 is a daunting task. Brendan Simms has done so in a masterly fashion. Brilliantly rearched with excellent maps this will be the standard work for many a year. It is nice also to see a book with an excellent index, quite rare these days. The bibliography is extensive and up-to-date.

Brendan is a Cambridge Professor and the...
Published 16 months ago by Dr Barry Clayton

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed
This book describes the many changes in Europe and the politics and struggles as the many countries, states and principalities vied for power during the last 450 years or so.It describes the concerns over security of the major powers, the centrality of the Holy Roman Empire and its fears from incursions of the Ottoman Empire, efforts of France,Spain and Russia to...
Published 14 months ago by fisherman


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable, 18 April 2013
By 
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
To write a history of Europe since 1500 is a daunting task. Brendan Simms has done so in a masterly fashion. Brilliantly rearched with excellent maps this will be the standard work for many a year. It is nice also to see a book with an excellent index, quite rare these days. The bibliography is extensive and up-to-date.

Brendan is a Cambridge Professor and the author of the magnificent work on the Bosnian disaster: 'Unfinest Hour'. This book will enhance his reputation even more among History scholars.

He stresses, as he did in his book:'Three Victories and a Defeat', that the history of England is intimately bound up with the history of Europe. The destiny of England, and later Great Britain, was decided by events in Europe, never has this been more true than in 2013.

It is very refreshing to read a work by a historian who emphasises the importance of geopolitics. Other excellent books on the history of Europe such as that by Norman Davies tend to downplay the role that geography played, and still does, in
political and military affairs. For this reason it is shameful that history at school and university can be studied, and usually is, without studying at the same time Geography. An atlas ought to be at every history student's elbow.

Professor Simms demonstrates how the issues that have faced Europeans, paricularly security issues, hav remained very constant over the centuries.He emphasises the major role that Germany has played in Europe's history, liking it to a 'semi-conductor' in the European balance between, for example, freedom and authority. As he says, his book is essentially about the 'immediacy of the past'.

His final chapter ends not with a prediction about the future, he is far too asute to make that error, but with a number of key questions.

In his book Norman Davies reminds us that in the beginning there was no Europe, by starting his book in 1500 Brendan Simms shows how his subject developed from nothing to a continent of enormous importance.

There is a tendency for historians to write a great lenght about less and less. Whole books are written, for example, about one year, sometimes even less. The Cambridge Mediaeval History covers a very short period but it takes 8 volumes. One of the great merits of this book is the depth of knowledge displayed over several centuries.

This superb book is a very worthy successor to the books on European History by Fisher, Braudel and Eugene Weber. It is also a must for all students of history since it saves them having to plough through numerous volumes.

In addition, Professor Simms has shown how it is also possible to commumicate with the general public. If students and the general public wish to learn what happened how, where and when they should read this book.

The late Professor Alan J P Taylor once said of a particular book: 'it is ninety percent true and one hundred percent useless'. I am sure he would say of this book it is not only beautifully written but 100% true and 1000% useful.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only slightly overstated case, 13 May 2013
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This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
This book is a masterpiece of compression and, because it has a narrow focus on international relations, could be and has been written as a compelling chronological narrative. Of its two main arguments, the centrality of Germany is the more convincing. It is only occasionally that bringing everything back to the Holy Roman Empire seems a bit forced. Seeing everything through the prism of international affairs is less successful. The Parliamentary side in the English Civil War would have been surprised to hear that they were mainly fighting the King to protect Protestants in Germany, and it really is not true that the Great Depression of the 1930s was caused by European international affairs, rather than the other way round. But despite these quibbles it is a highly readable and very interesting book.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a useful compendium, 29 April 2013
This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
1. The book's ambition is Alexandrian in scope and to a limited degree Mr Simms does manage to pull it off.

2. The basic hypothesis, that the geographical space that is synonymous with Germany is the pivot of history is well argued for the most part but does begin to look less convincing when Mr Simms gets down to a discussion of current developments- the chapter on democracies and perhaps the chapter on partitions as well. There is no questioning the importance of Germany in 20th century history, and a concern about its role in 21st century, but there have been ideological struggles not all of which can realistically be seen as owed to Germany, and we have yet to grasp the significance of the geography that is Asia-Pacific- for Europe and for the larger world. Because Amazon insists on this crazy ranking by stars, owed perhaps its American origins, I would give the book three stars in this department.

3. As a very readable and comprensible account of the "going-ons" in Europe since 1453 in some six hundred pages, the book would rank high. There are minor errors of fact, and in some instances also rather nuanced interpretations and opinions; tending to enhance the book's "right of the centre" slant I would say. These shortcomings have to be excused if the constraints of time taken to do the work, the length of the period covered, and the number of pages to which the narrative needs to be restricted, are taken into consideration. In this area the book approaches the five star category.

4. In asking questions rather than offering a prognosis as the conclusions, Mr Simms, I would say, has "short-changed" the reader. This is at best three star stuff; a reasonably intelligent reader would already be aware of these "questions".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Geopolitical primer, 18 Sep 2013
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
What does the Euro crisis have in common with the fall of Constantinople of 1453? Brendan Simms manages to weave a thread from one to the other, and it is unrolled from the skein that has been Germany's central place within Europe. For reasons to do with geography, population, and in the early-modern the prestige of the Holy Roman Emperor, the control of German has dominated European state relations, he argues. And because this was the era of European supremacy, it has been the central issue of international diplomacy throughout. Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy provides a whirlwind tour of European and indeed world political history for the last five hundred years. It is almost awe-inspiring in breadth and of such clarity that, while of academic calibre, it should appeal to all readers whatever knowledge gaps they feel they may have in this or that period. Providing equal space to the eighteenth-century rises of Prussia and Russia in the succession struggles, to the German and Italian unifications, and to WWII, it is also filled with spicy detail about its protagonists and the twists and accidents of countless greater and lesser crises.

This is state-centred history, and it focuses on diplomatic positioning and bargaining, wars, and economic rivalry. The book is unashamedly of the 'primacy of foreign policy' school, holding that, until well into the twentieth century, the state's position on the international chessboard was its leaders' prime preoccupation. It would agree with Clausewitz that war is the continuation of policy by other means, and chapter breaks often cut into the middle of major conflicts. At the same time, Simms certainly does not ignore the major economic, ideological, and technological shifts that conditioned policy. This is, therefore, a very modernised version of great power rise-and-fall histories, with society's own travails woven into the warp. A minor objection might be that Simms skirts Germany's astonishing economic performance in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a factor that has had much to do with its military and diplomatic importance. Perhaps the argument of German centrality is at times overstated, but this is something the author implicitly acknowledges, and the argument is there, after all, to make a novel and thought-provoking point. More of a nod could also have been given, finally, to the recent decline in Europe's international importance as a result of changing demographics - it represented a quarter of the world's population in 1900, but represents much less now - and of Asian economic resurgence. Yet these are details and, and for all its daunting thickness, this is a hugely rewarding book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping and majestic in its scope and coverage of the ..., 12 Aug 2014
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Sweeping and majestic in its scope and coverage of the historic and strategic thinking behind the making of Europe. It is written with clarity and style which drives the reader swiftly through each chapter to an understanding and amazement , leaving you wanting to find out more in the next.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed, 30 Jun 2013
This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
This book describes the many changes in Europe and the politics and struggles as the many countries, states and principalities vied for power during the last 450 years or so.It describes the concerns over security of the major powers, the centrality of the Holy Roman Empire and its fears from incursions of the Ottoman Empire, efforts of France,Spain and Russia to dominate. Also the later challenges presented by Bismark and the increasing power of Prussia and later a unified Germany. The increasing dominance of the USA as to how Europe should change especially after two world wars and the Cold War are also discussed as are efforts to form a unified Europe and the current mess over the single currency.The subject matter is very broad and wide ranging and therein lies the main problem with this book. Although Simms is clearly an expert and writes very well there is too much detail to cover in a 500 page book. It should have been significantly longer to adequately do justice to the many and complex events.Too many items are not covered in sufficent detail, for example Wellingtons victory at Waterloo is mentioned in just a single sentence.Little mention is made of the protracted war in Afghanistan. Arguably the book concentrates too much on the role of Germany.As such this is still a good read for those who are familiar with European history but there are too many characters and lists of facts without adequate analysis to be helpful to the layman. What is clear is the role that the USA has made in shaping the modern world, the frustrations of France in its many failed efforts to gain power in Europe, North America and Asia and how the Reagan administration effectively won the Cold War, and brought about the decline of communism in much of Eastern Europe
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Europe's history -a masterly summary, 24 Aug 2013
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When I read reviews of this book I didn't feel it was possible to compress over 5 centuries of European into a readable book.
How wrong I was.To take one example "Slavery " is not my favourite subject but I have been able to follow it century by century
in a very painless way.
Anybody who is interested in the European Union will find attempts by states to unite ( and disunite too ! ) fascinating.
I am still reading this book and am looking forward to the history of my times ( 1930- ).
This book is suitable for a reader who reads widely but is not particularly interested in history.
I shall try to reread this book once a year !
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book, greatly written and very insightful, 17 May 2013
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This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy is a stimulating, impressive history that starts with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and extends to the present day – a time, Simms says, when the question of whether Europe evolves into a closer union or remains a loose confederation of nation states will be decided primarily in Germany. Today, the centrality of Europe to global affairs is, of course, not what it was: two world wars, the end to the cold war, which permitted Germany’s peaceful unification, and the explosive economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region have taken care of that.

The book is an excellent read and its insights into the grand themes of European history are penetrating and lucidly argued. Europeans have only really experienced unity, Simms says, in the face of enormous threats such as those posed by Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin after 1945. Today there are no such threats – Vladimir Putin or militant Islam hardly fit the bill. The dream of unity has not faded. But its fulfilment is anything but a foregone conclusion.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 16 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
Required reading for someone who already has an understanding of European history, this book is not an introductory piece, rather it is an extensive piece of work that draws together a huge scope of European history- illustrating the author's hypothesis that the European balance of power has, since 1453, been defined by the events occurring in the Germanic centre.

Well written, accessible and incredibly detailed I would recommend this book wholeheartedly.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The global fulcrum flowing out of the centre of europe., 17 May 2013
By 
Mark Stewart "mlstolive" (Lausanne, Vaude Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present: A History of the Continent Since 1500 (Hardcover)
Brendan Simms does not loose the reader in verbose language nor slow the pace to upset what can be read in a freeflowing and expeditious manner. Mr Simms is at his best in capturing the pace of change yet revealing the consistency of geography in illustrating again and again the fulcrum. The fulcrum being that place that acts as the hinge. The place is Germania, Germany, the Old holy Roman Empire, land of German princes. He captures the readers attention. He did mine and demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the period from the mid fifteenth century to todays Greek economic malaise and the waywardness of US foreign policy today. Yet always he brings the reader to what is on decision makers minds, policy makers minds and how that translates again and again to this fixation on the fulcrum around which so much spins in one context or another. His arguementation is deeply unsettling as it is accurate and profound. A great read which is in its final instance extremely provocative in the questions he asks the reader...where to know? What path?
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