The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
ePub eBook : 27 Oct 2011
‘The past is a foreign country’ has become a truism, yet the past differs from the present in many unfamiliar ways and historical memory is extraordinarily imperfect. The degree to which we think of the European past as the history of France, Germany, Britain, Russia and so on, actually obstructs our view of former reality, and blunts our sensitivity to the ever-changing political landscape. Europe's past is littered with kingdoms, empires and republics which no longer exist but which were some of the most important entities of their day – ‘the Empire of Aragon’, which dominated the western Mediterranean in the thirteenth century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the largest country in Europe for part of the eighteenth century. This book shows the reader how to peer through the cracks of mainstream history-writing, and to catch a glimpse of the ‘Five, Six or Seven Kingdoms of Burgundy’. How long will it be before the USSR, until recently one of the world’s two superpowers, is wholly or half-forgotten as most of these? The histories of the lost echo across the centuries, mixed in with more familiar sounds. One of the purposes of this book is to help us hear them again more clearly, and appreciate where they came from.
As in his earlier celebrated books Europe and The Isles, Norman Davies aims to subvert our established view what looks familiar in history and urges us to look and think again. This stimulating book, full of unexpected stories, observations and connections, gives us a fresh and original perspective on European history.
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'There are few better ways of coming to an understanding of the multilayered splendours and horrors of Europe's past than through the pages of this wise, humane and unfailingly engaging book ... A must for anyone with a serious interest in Europe's present-day international relations,' John Adamson, The Sunday Telegraph
'His magpie's eye for detail includes not just quirks of the past but first-hand reportage worthy of a fine travel writer ... Like Mr Davies's other works, Vanished Kingdoms gives full rein to his historical imagination and enthusiasms, imparting a powerful sense of places lost in time. All across Europe ghosts will bless him for telling their long-forgotten stories,' The Economist
'In this brilliant, beautifully written book, Davies recovers those scattered vestiges of dead kingdoms, tracing the skeins that link modern political realities with ancient history .... This study is a challenging perspective on Europe's past, but also an original way of writing history,' Ben Wilson, The Daily Telegraph
'Norman Davies's new book is an expedition along the byways of European history... enormous range and diversity,' Dominic Lieven, Financial Times
'The physical places selected are evoked with marvellous lyricism and the historical sections written with a passion and vivacity that make a very bulky volume easily digestible by virtually any reader ... This is populist history par excellence. Not only is the whole style of the book intended to make it attractive and accessible to the widest possible audience, but also the message is constantly driven home that a prime duty of professional historians is to educate or re-educate the public,' Ronald Hutton, Saturday Review
'Vanished Kingdoms proposes a powerful solution to the problem of European history ... Davies is certainly one of the best British historical writers of the past half century, and every gauntlet he throws down is bejewelled,' Timothy Synder
'Norman Davies has the gift of all great historians - the ability to make us rethink the past,' The Times
'[A] gargantuan, colourful, infuriating but brilliant history of "half-forgotten Europe" ... The genius of Davies's project is that it invites you to look at familiar material with a fresh eye,' Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times
Pages : 848
Published : 27 Oct 2011
Publisher : Allen Lane
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» Paperback : £12.99
The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
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