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A History In Fragments: Europe in the Twentieth Century Hardcover – 31 Aug 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st Ed. (U.K.) edition (31 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316853747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316853743
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

"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

Review

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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Format: Hardcover
This book is easily the best of the general histories of Europe that have appeared in the last decade. It's less partisan than books by Eric Hobsbawm and Norman Davies, and is more complete than Mark Mazower's Dark Continent. A History in Fragments is especially good on communist regimes in Eastern Europe, and there is a superb chapter on their collapse. The book covers all the major political landmarks, as well as the unprecedented social social and economic changes of the twentieth century. Two chapters give us a fascinating account of the changing nature of the family and relations between the sexes. The central message of the book is probably that it is impossible to write a single history of Europe - the experience of British people in the 1990s, for example, has virtually nothing in common with that of the Russian peasant in the era of forced collectivisation. Whilst the author devotes much space to the grim side of Europe's twentieth century - the photographs are especially dark - he ends on a cautiously upbeat note. In 2000 the lives of most Euroepans have become easier.
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Format: Paperback
Any book seeking to cover the past 100 years of European history is bound to be selective in its facts and to concentrate on certain themes at the expense of others. Richard Vinen is an expert on French history, so naturally his most incisive arguments and penetrating insights come when he is dealing with France. On the Soviet Union and eastern Europe he is less sure of his footing: he seems heavily reliant on French sources for his sections on the communist world, and in a few cases he doesn't even bother to change the French spelling of a Russian placename into English (e.g., he writes "Bachkirie" rather than Bashkiria). He also seems determined to have nothing good to say about the UK, and to be itching to bash Margaret Thatcher and the modern Conservative party in general. There are many good features to the book, but readers should be aware there are a few weaknesses and some prejudices, too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Such an interesting read, some pieces of information that were new to me but so relevant for my current history module. I find Vinen's book easy to access and recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about twentieth century European history.
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Format: Paperback
This is a rare combination of exhaustive research and insightful analysis that should be required reading for anyone wishing to understand 20th century Europe. Vinen is a master of dredging up little-known but illuminating facts. The book is also very well written and easy to read. The best history book I have read for a good while - and I read quite a few...
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Format: Hardcover
A single volume on Europe's 20th century history might be expected to offer very little in the way of fresh perspective or new insight. By focusing, however, on Europe's history outside of its darkest days during two World Wars, Richard Vinen's thought-provoking new book successfully picks a well-defined path through an abundance of material. His persuasive approach strikes a balance between political and social history, but more importantly also reflects on the issues and undercurrents overlooked by the more narrow-minded approach of other histories of 20th century Europe.
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.
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By A Customer on 30 Dec. 2000
Format: Hardcover
So many British written history books concentrate on what has happened on our continent from a very narrow perspective - but not this one. This book assumes some knowledge of what has gone on in the last 100 years, and then uses pertinant statistics and stories to expand on this. The author looks over the entire continent, not just the Great Powers and not just political life.
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.
Buy it,
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By A Customer on 11 Sept. 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a good Greek girl, I am a great fan of Mark Mazower's "Dark Continent". However, I have to admit that Richards Vinen's General History of Europe is a better book. It is increadibly sweeping, ambitious and provocative. I like the attention to the post 1945 period and the attention to those neglected corners of Central and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, I find that the book, whilst not lacking historical perspective and accuracy, is very good read. It looks at history with historical knowledge and human warmth. Although, it would be nice if he occasionally remembered the existence of Greece.
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