qatsi (qatsi) wrote,


Book Review: Europe - A History, by Norman Davies
This is certainly a magnum opus, but it's a very readable one. At once the reader gains a sense of perspective, when Davies refers to Europe as a whole as "a peninsula" on the Eurasian continent. Although there is some discussion of prehistory, the book really starts with ancient Greece and Rome, and proceeds through to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the onset of the Balkan wars. Throughout, Davies takes effort to balance his narration across the continent, venturing as far east as Georgia and Armenia on occasion. It certainly made for more interesting reading than the history I studied at school, which I dropped at the first opportunity. The religious focus, correlating Christendom with Europe, is perhaps inevitable from the late Roman period to the Enlightenment, and interesting thereafter. The section on World War I was far more useful than the turgid and depressing war poetry inflicted on me at school. The frequent capsules, in which Davies breaks off from the main narration to discuss specialised or localised topics, are somewhat distracting, but many of them were interesting of themselves, and also showed Davies injecting humour into this lay-scholarly work.
Tags: books, europe, history
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