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on 13 April 2017
A very heavy book, in terms of both subject matter and the actual book, which is so heavy that I have to read it resting on my desk. Fascinating overview of European History.
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on 20 July 2017
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on 5 June 2017
Norman Davies is one of the best history writers, I can recommend all of his books.
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on 26 April 2017
Excellent condition for a very good price.
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on 6 March 2017
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2014
Walter Kaufmann's translation of Nietzsche's declaration that `There are no facts, only interpretation' is singularly the most apt description of historical works. We are attracted to history because we hold the belief that by understanding the past, we can understand the present, and thus plot our path to a happier future. Our folly lies in the concurrent belief that history renders an unerring account of the past. But history can never be `an objective compilation of facts', as E H Carr tells us in `What is History' (2001 Palgrave). This causes as much trouble to the historian as it does to his readers.

To make the venture of reading history not just rewarding but pleasurable, the history reader ought first to select the area of his interest before he selects his book. He can choose specific countries, or the entire continent of Europe, or just specific epochs. A comprehensive survey of the history of Europe may be found in several works but they all comprise so many volumes that only the very serious history scholars consult them. `Europe' by Norman Davies is not a small book. At 1335 pages long (excluding the index) Davies' book presents a formidable challenge to the prospective reader, but once he finds the courage or curiosity to turn to the first pages, he will not put it down till he has absorbed every page, every cross-reference (tucked neatly in boxed lines near the general point), and every map and appendix.

Many historical interpretations carry a mix of stories, legends, and reactions, but there is no confusion in Davies' account. He tells the story of Europe with the ambitious aim of giving his reader a deep understanding of the reasons and causes of the political boundaries of the countries that make Europe today and that story begins from the beginning in which Davies begins by telling us, `In the beginning, there was no Europe'.

Davies swiftly takes the reader from there to the Barbarians' crossing of the frozen Rhine and crashing through the gates of embryonic Europe, to the internecine clashes of the Christians - among themselves as well as the never-ending battles with the Muslims, and from there to the major wars of the twentieth century. The story grinds down to the effect and consequences those wars had on the major powers in Europe. `Post-war British politics had to cope with a country whose traditional identity was quietly disintegrating. They were governed by the swings of the two-party Westminster system, by the stop-go performance of the economy, and above all, by Britain's long search for a post-imperial role.'

In the final chapter, `Europe Divided and Undivided', Davies takes the reader to the rise of the Single Europe Act (`SEA') and the European Economic Community, the efforts of Jacques Delors and how SEA is portrayed as a Trojan horse; and Mikhail Gorbachev's contrasting role in the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Scholars - historians, military experts, and political analysts (to name a few) - might have fresh perspectives of the current Russian-Ukrainian crisis just from Davies' account of the history of Europe. That might be one reason why this book, first published 18 years ago in 1996 is reissued this year under Bodley Head.

One way of getting the most out of a book like this is to begin by reading the Preface and Introduction, and then skim through small portions of each chapter before reading the book from the start. In this way, the reader will be made aware of the connections that dot each page and appreciate how Davies weaved them into his general theme of presenting Europe in her grand ballroom gown and peasant shoes. Davies sought from the start to disabuse his readers of any notion that the history of Europe is the history of the West, or that the history of Western Civilization is the history of civilization.
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on 21 July 2017
It's taking me a long time to work my way through this exhaustive magnum opus. The scale of the subject, and the research which backs it up, are very impressive. Like others, I find the boxed insertions initially interesting but then mildly irritating and distracting.

My main reservation concerns the content. When professional historians talk about "History", they actually mean political, and sometimes related artistic history. Major scientific, medical and engineering advances aren't included. For example, and entirely at random, this book contains no references to the invention of the printing press by Thomas Caxton, the introduction of the BCG vaccine against tuberculosis, or the invention of the internal combustion engine. All European achievements with profound effects on the history of the continent of Europe and the world. Yet at the same time, for example, very abstruse detailed accounts are given of minor mediaeval religious sects whose importance is hard to determine.
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on 25 August 2011
The print edition is 1300 pages of pure gold but its size and scope make it possible to spend half a day getting lost in it whilst trying to look something up! The Kindle edition is all but a one-book argument for buying a Kindle: keyword searches make using the book much more efficient and the citations are live, which vastly eases things if you want to see where he quotes from. It's also much more comfortable to read this on the kindle than in print.
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on 8 December 2006
I read this on the bus to and from work. School kids see this weighty tome and must assume that i am a schoolmaster as they desist form sitting next to me with their annoying zzzzz things in thier ears. Almost worth the chore of lugging it about for that alone. But it puts it all in context with a bird's eye view centred approximactely over Hungary. Seeing the interlacing of invasions, tribal movements, the Roman Empire and religion all intermeshed.

It looks at all the interests in the growth of power and the power competitions without national hubris and interest - oh that every flag waving nationalist in every part of the World could see some of their treasured myths so analysed.
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on 31 August 2003
I've spent the best part of forty years reading European histories. This is the most comprehensive, one-volume work I've come across.
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