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In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century Paperback – 6 Mar 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 2008 Edition edition (6 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009951673X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099516736
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Fascinating, informative, sometimes exhilarating, often painful, and quite impossible to summarise... This is a splendidly panoramic picture of our common European home, a book to read through and then to dip into frequently... I thoroughly recommend his book" (Allan Massie Literary Review)

"A broader travelling history of the whole of Europe's 20th century. As befits a journalist with an eye for bad news, he also has much more to say on its calamitous first half than on its more successful second half... Mr Mak tells this part of the story vividly and in great, gory detail, moving from grim fields of battle (Verdun, Stalingrad) to places of revolution (Petrograd, Berlin), and on to ghastly charnel-houses of death and destruction (Auschwitz, Dresden)" (Economist)

"An ingenious geographical-chronological structure... It's impossible not to get drawn into this book" (Noel Malcolm Sunday Telegraph)

"The pace rarely slackens and every page sparkles with insight" (Herald)

"In Europe is not so much a work of history, nor is it strictly a travelogue of the present; it is part of a growing genre that is sometimes referred to as the 'history of the present', but might just as well be the 'presence of the past'. It is undoubtedly a spectacular and beautifully crafted piece of such writing" (Isabella Thomas Sunday Times)

Book Description

A spellbinding history of 20th-century Europe that has the scope, pace and same capacity to delight as that of any epic novel.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Geert Mak's book is a masterpiece. It's not a complete and exhaustive account of the 20th Century in Europe, instead it reads in the form of a travelogue as Mak visits some of the significant places upon which events took place, for example Sarajevo and Berlin. It's not a dry and dusty recounting of facts, instead it's a warm and readable insight into some of the people and events which were so pivotal for the history of Europe. Somehow he is able to find vignettes of events which illustrate the whole, interviewing people who, although unnoticed players in history, have their own insight into the events and their own experiences of how things affected them.

What's outstanding about this book is the quality of the writing (and the translation too). Mak is able to distil complex events into fascinating pieces of writing and he regularly personalises situations that otherwise could seem too vague. I was particularly moved by the chapters on the First World War where he quoted various young men who were part of the fighting on both sides and showed that, for the individuals involved in the war, events were seen very differently from those in overall charge.

In this book Mak often quotes short phrases in German which aren't translated and could cause some trouble for those who don't speak German; however most other languages have some kind of translation where they occur.

This is a very big book and it's not something that you want to read through continuously. However I found myself dipping into it on a regular basis, 3-4 chapters at a time, and I always enjoyed it.
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By C. Ball TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a combination of travelogue and history book - a Dutch journalist spending a year travelling through Europe, writing about the people he meets, the places he visits and the historical background. It's wonderfully written, very personable and engaging, and very interesting. It's about how the people of Europe see themselves in relation to the world around them, about how they react to other Europeans, about whether they even consider themselves European at all. I really enjoyed this book and I'd recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Paperback
I bought In Europe because I had read a review that praised it greatly, and I enjoyed reading it more than I could have hoped. For me, Geert Mak offered a view of Europe through the twentieth century from the perspective of someone from a small, mainland European country. He doesn't write European history from the viewpoint of one of the major players, so it is never about Britain's (or France's, or Germany's) role in the First of Second World Wars. He goes about Europe and through the twentieth century, calling on his many friends and contacts in key places for key events, meeting people here and there by chance. And he gives the reader a patchwork of novel insights and deeply personal understandings. My copy has now been read by at least two other people, and is well thumbed by me; and I have recommended it to many others, and bought copies for friends as presents.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very well written and structured canter through European C20th history. I found it almost unputdownable. It taught me masses that I didn't know, and connected events long ago with today. Highly enjoyable, and very much recommended!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a big, ambitious, broad ranging and thoroughly well researched book which takes the reader in easy steps through a phenomenal century by presenting an astonishing amount of information, interviews, and well-balanced accounts, all cleverly coinciding with the author's travels around Europe. He talks to dozens upon dozens (probably hundreds) of interesting people from ordinary folks to prime ministers, he contrasts places and events with how they were back whenever and how they are now, and seems to walk with one foot in the past, and one foot in the here-and-now. That's not easy, and he does it consistently very well. Pretty much everything to do with European politics, shifting economic structures, changing societies and the endless conflicts are covered, from the build up to the first World War right up to the Balkan conflicts at the end of the century, and the ensuing rise in Islamic extremism.

This book had me engrossed from the start, even though the enormity was daunting simply because it is so vast, but I found that it was no chore at all thanks to the style of writing (bravo to the translator!) being so friendly and ultimately such a great travelogue. I found that one chapter led to another... and another... and another... and then all 66 chapters had gone. What a journey!

A minor issue to raise, though. I wish there could be an updated epilogue, because the release date of this great book was very unfortunate indeed - it goes up to 2007, just before the crash of 2008, so the author leaves us with a somewhat optimistic and rose-tinted vision of European integration. Ireland is at full employment and constructing great buildings at full speed, Italy is an ever-growing economic miracle, Spain is on the up and up, the new member states are trying to fit in...
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