A History In Fragments: Europe in the Twentieth Century Hardcover – 31 Aug 2000
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"Dark continent", "the age of extremes", "Europe divided"--these are just some of the descriptive labels that historians have attached to the late and unlamented 20th century. And why not? One hundred years of European history dominated by war, genocide, unemployment and totalitarianism hardly deserve better epitaphs. But as Richard Vinen perceptively and provocatively suggests in his deft and wry survey, it is partly a matter of perspective. The world wars only took up 10 per cent of the century, inter-war Europe was as violent as anything that came later and, since 1945, economic growth, political consensus, social mobility and the re-integration of Europe have meant Europeans leave the 20th century a much better place than they found it in 1900. Vinen, a specialist in French history and one of an exciting younger generation of modern European historians, has written an intelligent and stylish book, which will upset most received wisdom on the subject. The book has a "French" feel--there is more on demography and sex, culture and religion, than on politics and ideology, and it is spiced with amusing anecdotes, stories and a stunning interlude covering photography. For an engaging argument about the recent European past this is the place to start. --Miles Taylor
Fascinating and immensely readable...often sums up key moments in soundbite phrases that imprint themselves beautifully on the memory. (GLASGOW SUNDAY HERALD)
Beautifully written, and can be confidently recommended to anyone seeking to make sense of our recent history. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)
A master of telling fact and illuminating insight, Vinen somehow manages to be both opinionated and objective. (Andrew Roberts)
I admired [A HISTORY IN FRAGMENTS] very much indeed. It struck me as a tour de force, as impressive in its collation of little-known facts as in its presentation of fresh and always intelligent interpretation. (Anthony Howard)
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Top Customer Reviews
Evenly written and with a dry English wit that will engage North-American readers, Vinen's book is manageable and readable. I suspect 'A History in Fragments' will rapidly become influential in how we view the development of Europe and what was going on in the lives of the common people during the 'turbulent' 20th century.
Despite this huge sweep, the book holds together well.
History students will find a lot in here to back up theories rather than form them.
So why not 5 stars ? The author somehow loses the plot as we approach the present day. This is maybe inevitable, written twelve months ago, the Internet was going to change the world, now it is a failing business methodology. History is best viewed slightly detached.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Entertaining analysis of themes, rather than a straight chronology.Published 8 months ago by John Dixon
In fragments is what it says and in fragments is what it is. This is probably a useful book for the undergraduate to give an overview of the themes which are importants in the 20th... Read morePublished on 1 Dec. 2009 by bundesbahn
I could write at great length about the outstanding nature and quality of this volume.
Instead I shall only say, that I am convinced that history itself will judge Dr. Read more
Questioning established assumptions on 20th century Europe, Richard Vinen's A History in Fragments is a thought-provoking, challenging and gripping book. Read morePublished on 15 Sept. 2000
A one-volume history of Europe in the 20th century is always an ambitious undertaking but Mr Vinen's approach is unusual and original and works. Read morePublished on 9 Sept. 2000
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