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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it, 10 Aug 2013
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P. Spencer (Widnes, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Baltic: A New History of the Region and its People (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book. There seems to be a bit of a dearth of books about the history of the Baltic region as a whole (especially in 'popular', 'narrative' history) and this is just what I was after to enlighten a trip to the area. The book has a huge scope and Alan Palmer has done a good job of synthesis in bringing together the history of many nations, eras and events, some of these events not strictly occurring in the Baltic region, but having a bearing on it in some way. There are useful timelines of royal dynasties and a useful comparison table of place names (borders are very fluid in the region!).

I do have a couple of niggles. Firstly, though much is synthesized into just 400 pages, I think some events could have be summarized a bit more to allow the narrative to roll on more enjoyably. Personally, the century between the Napoleonic Wars and WW1 was a bit of a plod and may have benefitted from less minutiae. Also, this is largely a narrative history of rulers, war and power politics. There is relatively little on social history such as art, literature, architecture, food, and (latterly) tourism aspects of the Baltic. (This is subtitled as a history of the region and its people, but there is not much on the vast bulk of the people and their everyday lives.) I would also have liked a few more maps in the text, particularly on some of the military campaigns.

One last thing, to my mind there were a couple of geographical mistakes. On P. 145 it says "the Peterhof was built along the Baltic shore 30 kilometres east of the capital" (St Petersburg). West, surely? Also, P. 387: "Gomulka the minister responsible for the newly 'recovered territories' in the East"; for Poland these territories are in the west. OK, bit pedantic, but I think there were one or two others like this that I can't recall now. A bit more proof-reading required perhaps.

Anyway, just to tail how I topped, I did enjoy this book. There is a lot to learn here and a lot of interest. If your visiting the area and are interested in a relatively straightforward history to accompany you then this could be the book for you. Thank you Alan Palmer.
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The Baltic: A New History of the Region and its People
The Baltic: A New History of the Region and its People by Alan Palmer (Paperback - 26 Aug 2010)
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