Europe: A History
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Europe: A History

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,031 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Norman Davies' seminal biography of a whole continent; "it brims with learning, crackles with common sense, coruscates with wit and abounds in good judgement." --Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Sunday Times
From the Ice Age to the Cold War, from Reykjavik to the Volga, from Minos to Margaret Thatcher, Norman Davies here tells the entire story of Europe in a single volume. It is...more
Paperback, 1365 pages
Published November 18th 1997 by Pimlico (first published 1994)
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Betty Ho
It took me 2 months to struggle through the first half of the book with numerous side readings/ wiki/ movies (To make sure I've got a clear picture, I even created a timeline with 300 events from pre-history to reformation and also hundreds of dots on my Google map).

Once all the puzzles came together, I can breeze through the remaining 50% with great satisfaction.
Jan Hidders
A very big read indeed, but worth every minute you spend on it. The author makes a big point of treating the history of the whole of Europe, not just the Western part, and I agree with the author that such a treatment has been long overdue. The book is great as an overview work but can also be used to fill in some of the gaps in your historical knowledge, especially about Eastern Europe, since it also goes into some detail. However, it is not an introductory work and often assumes that you alrea...more
I read this on a Kindle which in terms of sheer logistics is the best way to read a 1392 page book. A "book" book of this size is just too uncomfortable to read in any other way. The Kindle came into its own especially with its notes and highlights features.

1392 pages, too little to cover 3 or 4,000 years of complex history of a continent? 1392 pages, too many pages to not be bored or overwhelmed with information?

Davies did this by not writing a conventional history. By conventional I mean not...more
Pete Sikora
Jan 03, 2009 Pete Sikora rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone trying to write a history of Europe
Davies specializes in Polish history and WWII, but took on a continent-sized task. The result is a haphazardly organized mish-mash that loses its way just as its subject emerges as a concept in the 17th and 18th centuries.

We get a lot of Eastern European history, at the expense of understanding other nations. My Polish background makes that fine by me. However, by writing too many books, historians run a danger: the need to recycle material. "Europe" is proof.

At 1136 pages plus loads of append...more
John Lucy
Unless you know a whole lot about Europe already, this is a great book to read for the curious lay person and intellectual or for the student. It's long, clearly, but very much worth it as a book to read on the side. I'm a firm believer that histories should neither be told as stories or as simply a collection of facts, but something in between: Davies does it to near perfection. The writing is smooth and easily understandable for all. And, to his great credit, Davies tries hard at writing the h...more
Tom Kilobees
I started reading Europe: A History in November because I never took a European history class in school. Having finished it, nine months later, I certainly wouldn't say I'm an "expert" on European history now, but this is about as good an introduction as one could hope to find.

It can be a slog at times, with names and dates piling up faster than anyone could possibly keep up with, but there's only so much a historian can do when synthesizing such an enormous wealth of information. Despite this,...more
I wavered between 4 and 5 stars, because there are some parts -- mostly in the beginning -- that I forced myself to trudge through. 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. I'm taking into account that this book is an insane undertaking, and the fact that I was really into the book for around 800 of its 1136 pages is pretty damn impressive.

The little boxes of random as...more
Elijah Meeks
This is an amazing, magisterial text that I always find myself opening. Though Davies let's his anti-Soviet sentiment affect not only his modern interpretations and he ignores the Romanized and Hellenized culture of the Middle East, it's still the finest overview of classical Europe that I've ever read.
The sine qua non reference for European history. Particularly valuable for covering more than France, Germany, Italy, and Britain.
Darren Goossens
Oct 31, 2013 Darren Goossens rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: history
Europe: A History

by Norman Davies

Pimlico, 1997. 1365 pages

(review from )

This is probably the single biggest volume I have ever read. It has many fans, and rightly so. European history is rather like translations of Homer and films of Shakespeare; each English (speaking) generation needs to have its own. I have read a handful of histories of Europe, and each time a new one comes along it allows itself to believe it has shaken off a few more shibboleths, se...more
carl  theaker

A quite fascinating entirely readable intro to European history.
At over 1200 pages it's quite a tome, but it does cover a lot of
ground, pre-history to 1992, nomadic-tribes to the end of the
Cold War.

Along with plenty of maps, charts, and a few sections of photos,
there are 1 page Capsules sprinkled throughout, which delve into a
particular subject a little deeper.

Davies is a scholar on Poland, so if you find the section on
that area a little long, you've never learned so much about
Lithuania in yo...more
Still haven't quite gotten through this all the way. I was trying to be strong and go chronologicall, but then around the 5th Century I got distracted. I managed to come back and keep going until about 1200 or 1300 maybe.

Don't get me wrong, it's very thorough and well-written considering how much information is contained in it. If I ever need to know minute details about this continent, I will be sure to consult this tome. I'm glad I have it and perhaps one day I will get all the way through. F...more
Interesting, comprehensive book. He does a good job of covering all of Europe´s history in one volume. However, I did notice some incorrect facts in the book (for instance about Scandinavia which I know best), and this probably means there are many more incorrect facts I didn´t notice. So I don´t recommend trusting the book 100%.
A thick history book comprising all Europe's history and yet you read it as a page-turner. What is noteworthy is that he gives equal attention to Western and Eastern Europe (a rare thing, for some reason). A brick-sized compendium of knowledge but it reads like a thriller.
Joe Atwood
I enjoy how this is organized compared to other historical books. It is easy to pick up, put down, and come back months later if that's your style. Obviously, it is mine.
Johnny Ryan
Excellent, beautifully written overview. Davies delivers a broad, sweeping history. One caveat: it passes quickly over detail, occasionally vaguely. Overall this is a masterpiece.
People say my name should be Jeff
A very complete history of Europe. I really enjoy the fact that the author does not exclude parts of Europe that are not traditionally "Europe," like Ukraine and Turkey.
Czarny Pies
This is an excellent survey history of Europe for our times. Previous works concentrated primarily on Western Europe. Davies chooses to give Poland and Russia equal play with countries such as France and England. Given that Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic have joined the European common market, it is now clearly time to widen the focus with those countries that Western Europeans are now travelling to and conducting business with on a routine basis.

Just as the disappearance of the Iron Curtai...more
Fascinating book. This is big history; history in vistavision, from the geological formation of the continent of Europe and its islands, to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. This has been my "bathroom book" for a year and it's ideally suited to that role - short paragraphs, too big to read continuously as your only book on the go, full of interesting snippets - it's also written in a very easy to read style without condescending the reader.

The wide-angle history is leavened b...more
Chris Abel
For several years, history has been the primary focus of what I read. Having not had a formal course in history since high school, I decided to read this book in order to build a general base of knowledge which can inform my future book choices.

Given the length of the book, and the time commitment that it will likely require to complete, I've decided to split it into sections, and then temporarily put the book aside after reading each section.

Over the past month (early Aug. - early Sept. 2010),...more
Darran Mclaughlin
An excellent general history of Europe from the earliest stirrings in Minoa prior to the ancient Greeks to the 1990's, which is an amazing achievement over 1400 pages. It is a pretty brisk overview by necessity, intertwining the main narrative with several self-contained capsules which focus upon a variety of points of interest. As it is such a broad overview the reader will have to research anything that interests them particularly in greater depth by reading more specialized books. Two element...more
It is a rather big book, more than a thousand pages about – obviously – the European history. It took me more than a year to finish, and not only because it is so long and has a very specialized lexicon, but because during the reading I had a strong urge to throw this book at the wall, and had to put it away and cool off a little bit.

Do not mistake me: I liked this book. The author undertakes an impossible task: to write about the history of the part of the world we call Europe from the first p...more
Lyn Elliott
I have been reading this for over a year, and will probably go on reading it for the rest of my life. For anyone wanting to understand the patterns of Europe over a long time frame, this is the most interesting book I have come across.
Davies discusses the concept of 'Europe' as a starting point - in itself a fascinating exercise. His Europe includes the Slavic countries and the Balkans. As he speaks and reads at 9 languages, including several Slavic languages, he is able to access sources that...more
A great book. A comprehensive overview of the history of Europe from prehistory to c.1990. The book focuses on the whole continent rather than the more familiar and more 'important' locations that generally get the attention. Each chapter of the book covers a particular epoch in European history and is given a title (I think all in Latin) which the author thinks sums up the period in question. Within each chapter are a series of sidebars separate to the main text relating to a particular point o...more
James Gaffney
Outstanding. This tour de force covers European history from the Ice Age to the end of the Cold War, while also touches on Europe's influence in the wider world, while also asking questions about the nature of Europe itself. It is written in a very readable style, with no shortage of humour thrown in. It is extremely thorough - even my various homes through the years of Limerick, Besancon and Minas Gerais get mentions. Even though Davies finished writing it in 1992, he asks some pertinent questi...more
In a fit of ambition five months ago at the beach in Casablanca, I downloaded and started Norman Davies’ epic Europe: A History. I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite so proud to click that “I’m Finished” button on my GoodReads update page. On my Kindle, the page count reads upwards of sixteen hundred pages. However, with the opening chapter an easily digestible introduction to the physical and prehistoric beginnings of the cultures that came to be called collectively European, I felt like the book...more
Woo - a whopper - if you gave the time and the muscles though this is a good, if hefty read (I understand the Kindle / ebook version has formatting issues sadly. If, like me your knowledge of European history was largely at the level of periodic mentions of the French as a backdrop to British superiority, then this is an ideal book to have around. It covers You can read it sequentially or you can drop in and out of the bits that are of particular interest. One of the features I like (and the one...more
Elizabeth Urello
I love sprawling panoramic histories of Western Civ, but this one is more of a reference work than something meant to be read cover-to-cover. I only got a couple hundred pages in before giving up. I recommend Postwar or From Dawn to Decadence if you want something more readable.
Given how utterly jam-packed with information this book is, and how it manages to hold a single all-encompassing narrative through 1200 pages of text while including scores of interesting asides, it is difficult to justify giving this book less than 5 stars. The amount of research that went into this work must have been truly astronomical, and the fact that Davies was able to condense it all into one narrative history stretching, as the cover says, from the Ice Age to the Cold War and from the U...more
I found my edition riddled with typos, specifically in the "capsules", with entire lines being missed or repeated at times.
Also, I know that as a general Hx it isn't going to go into too much in depth, but based on the Hx I am familiar with he really seems to simplify in some areas when he might as well just have a wee summary of them in a sentence or 2, or completely ignored them, for all the value his comments had. I know that if he had gone into loads of detail the book would have been huge,...more
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Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom. From 1971, Davies taught Polish history at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) of the University of London, where he was professor from 1985 to 1996. Currently, he is Supernumary Fellow at Wolfso...more
More about Norman Davies...
Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw The Isles: A History No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945 God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 1: The Origins to 1795

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“It is indeed the duty of historians to stress the contrast between
the standards of the past and the standards of the present. Some
fulfil that duty on purpose, others by accident.”
“Wcześniej czy później dekonstrukcjonistów zdekonstruują ich własne metody. "Przeżyliśmy Śmierć Boga i Śmierć Człowieka. Z pewnością przeżyjemy także Śmierć Historii... i Śmierć Postmodernizmu.” 1 likes
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