Having said this, this is still simply the best work on the subject I've read, both in depth and comprehensiveness, as well as in readability. One minor point I did not enjoy: Since I read most of this book digitally, this become annoying, as I'd have to stop to flip through many digital pages to get back to where I was.
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Davies is a writer of high caliber. The experiment of sending it to Pondicherry for digital type-setting nearly proved disastrous; and the desperate editors pondered the possibility that the pages could only be published in electronic form. His prose, although largely devoid of flourish, is consistently strong.
Europe by Norman Davies
Finally, two small anecdotes: Most certainly not, what a foolish undertaking that would be. Among the morman, he is strong on music but weak on painting, sculpture, and architecture.
One will have to wait and see what he has next in the pipeline - details can be found here! It does have sections deep in the past when his history slides into a survey of rulers or social movements. But that was only because my knowledge of Europe outside of the usual stuff is relatively small, and I was just not able to process all the names and places thrown out.
More like a chronological encyclopedia than a traditional history book. It is by its nature broad brush history, but Davies includes plenty of small details and historical anecdotes which bring a sense of realism to the history he is describing.
It's such an epic sweep that I'm not sure if I missed anything important or not, but having gone to the effort of reading all of this tome I wanted to read, well, all of it! Don't get me wrong, it's very thorough and well-written daives how much information is contained in it.
Preview — Europe by Norman Davies. I particularly appreciate the dedication of major portions of the book to Eastern Europe. At times it reads more like an encyclopedia as you jump from one part of history to another in the long chapters. One of the most histry and likely unfair concerns here is that the book simply cannot go into much depth on specific topics.
Before this book I knew nothing of the history of Poland. Like the introduction, the capsules are a good means for people who claim to not care about or like history to understand how fun history can be by learning from where certain cultural phenomenons come.
It is big, fat, and heavy: I thought it would have been a much better idea if he had left the capsules out completely, developed them into full-length essays, and then released them in their own book.
Davies is an Eastern European specialist so he brings that insight into the book. Multiple clocks beset me, counting down and counting up. There is no reason why France should get more pages than Poland in a European history, yet many books hardly go east of Prussia. It is not available in English. However, it is not an introductory work and often assumes that you alrea A very big read indeed, but worth every minute you spend on it. Again, something I personally don't mind as a person with an interest in the country, but I'm not sure how others without that mindset feel.
In the same vein Davies uses the actual spelling of historical figures' names rather than any accepted Anglicized versions of the names and rarely explains.
Europe: A History
I could envision this book being incredibly helpful for an actual historian, because Davies does do an excellent job of weaving many threads into a cohesive whole. Twelve chapters span the European past from prehistory till the disintegration of the Soviet Union. What this means is that he often quotes poetry and other things in the native language, which is great, but then at times does not translate, which is not great, either expecting the reader to know French, Russian, German, and Italian particularly, or not caring at all about the reader.
He certainly starts at the start with neolithic peoples but he also starts by questioning what is Europe? The sections on the eruope of the Soviet Union were entirely interesting. This is one monster of a volume. I imagine this to be less annoying when reading a physical copy, but I found myself wishing that all capsules were collected, perhaps, in one appendix, rather than littered through normn book.
Luckily, Davies is adept at both of these skills; unfortunately, the book is still too big to carry around. May 16, John Lucy rated it really liked it.