137 of 141 people found the following review helpful
You'll never look at Europe the same way again,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950 - 1350 (Paperback)
This is the most enjoyable history book I have ever read. If the history of Europe is a long and interminably complicated one, then I would suggest that this single volume could be the key to unlocking that history and explaining the remarkable diversity of nations and cultures that co-exist within this single, small continent today. The author's clear, unpretentious prose style further enhances the readability of the book and while it is likely to be a must-read for students and academics, the general reader will find this book accessible and entertaining. Bartlett takes the reader on a rapid and utterly fascinating tour of medieval Europe, from the Celtic fringes of the British Isles to the uncharted wildernesses of Eastern Europe, and south to newly-reconquered Spain, between the tenth and fourteenth centuries. Amidst the profound social, religious, political and economic - not to mention shamelessly opportunistic - forces taking hold across the continent in this period, we can already begin to see the origins of the Europe we recognise today beginning to emerge. With countless examples drawn from historical sources from literally every corner of Europe, the reader is nonetheless given a refreshing perspective of the story of our continent as a whole - in human terms, rather than as colours and lines arbitrarily drawn on a map. I would advise anyone with an interest in Europe as it is today, and how it came to be, to read this book. I noticed with interest that Simon Schama cited it in the bibliography of his "History of Britain". This book actually affected me quite deeply; I now see European current affairs in a new but much richer context, and I've been compelled to re-examine the way I look at history and its implications for future generations. On another level, I found this book helped me to re-evaluate my outlook on some of the concepts we often take for granted, such as nationality, culture and identity. I can't help thinking, therefore, that by reading this book and reflecting on its implications, many fellow Europeans might want to take a fresh look at the meaning of their own identities and prejudices; ethnic, religious, nationalistic, cultural and linguistic sources of tension and conflict can be identified, often at source, throughout the pages of this stunning book. And, for all the bloodshed and medieval argy-bargy, there's the unexpected bonus of the occasional giggle. Splendid.
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Initial post: 18 Mar 2008 01:25:03 GMT
This is a wonderful--and wonderfully--accurate review of a great book. This short review almost does justice to the book itself, no small achievement.
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