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Europe: A History

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  3,254 Ratings  ·  158 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
Paperback, 1365 pages
Published November 18th 1997 by Pimlico (first published October 10th 1996)
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(showing 1-30)
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Betty Ho
Sep 04, 2012 Betty Ho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Sep 15, 2011 Jan Hidders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2012 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pete Sikora
Jan 03, 2009 Pete Sikora rated it liked it  ·  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
John Lucy
May 16, 2012 John Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Roy Lotz
Can one narrate time—time as such, in and of itself? Most certainly not, what a foolish undertaking that would be. The story would go: “Time passed, ran on, flowed in a mighty stream,” and on and on in the same vein. No one with any common sense could call that a narrative.

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Personal Preface

Lately I have been thinking a lot about time. Well, perhaps thinking isn’t the right word; I’ve been worrying. Ever since I moved to Spain, time has been a problem. What’s the pr
Jul 12, 2017 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ahh! After six months (though really two intense months) of reading I've finally finished this monster of a book! I'm not saying that in quality only in the size of the book. The content itself was actually really enjoyable.

Norman Davies divides his chapters between the the ideas and events that take place in the continent during each respective era. He shows how things that happen to one state or part of Europe can have immense effect on another area. I really enjoyed getting the broader p
Dec 14, 2009 Joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
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
Sep 24, 2012 Marc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, favorites, europe
Extraordinary history of Europe. Brilliant, especially for its attention to eastern Europe, although written just after the opening of the Iron Curtain in 1989. The "lemma's" that accompany the chronological story are perfect complementaries, that give depth to the narrative.
Richard Newton
Nov 18, 2016 Richard Newton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I feel a sense of relief having finished this book. That's not something one would normally feel on finishing what is a good book, but this is such an enormous relentless tome, that it is pretty exhausting. Even though I have read several books in parallel, this one has tired me!

Davies covers European history in the full, from the earliest times to the point of completion of the book back in 1991. It is by its nature broad brush history, but Davies includes plenty of small details and historical
Jul 22, 2009 Synve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Interesting, comprehensive book. He does a good job of covering all of Europes 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 didnt notice. So I dont recommend trusting the book 100%. ...more
Elijah Meeks
Feb 17, 2009 Elijah Meeks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 18, 2007 Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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 it was amazing  ·  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
Lyn Elliott
Jun 18, 2012 Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, unfinished
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
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),
Czarny Pies
Feb 28, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-history
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
Matt Hartzell
May 21, 2017 Matt Hartzell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
If you're looking to settle in for a long, LONG read, then Norman Davies' sweeping treatise on European history is for you. Not for the faint of heart, Davies opens the book by making the case for this type of historical survey over millennia, and while his argument is compelling, I think his work has led me to conclude that history on a bit smaller scale is much more interesting. However, I'm still glad I read this tome, and for the insights that I gleaned from it.

I found Davies to be a very go
carl  theaker
Oct 28, 2010 carl theaker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

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
Sep 04, 2015 Pouria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am a non-English speaker with no background in European history and this book was a disaster for me. After reading about a hundred pages I couldn't learn anything from it. It assumes you have a firm background in European history. It just jumps into a time period in history and mentions a lot of names without introducing them or mentioning who or what or where they are. For example early in the book where he is talking about Rome there are a lot of mentions of different emperors, places, peopl ...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
Dec 30, 2013 Nosemonkey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like a chronological encyclopedia than a traditional history book. If it wasn't so damned huge this would be the perfect book to sit by the loo - ideal for dipping into at random to read up on bits and bobs, but impossible to read cover to cover. A must own for anyone interested in the history or politics of Europe.
May 15, 2011 C.E. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally, a history that mentions countries other than France, England, Germany and Russia!
And yikes, I am still in the Dark Ages.... Hello? Middle Ages anyone?
I am going to have to up my weekly page requirements.
Nov 29, 2016 Olga rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Надмірний акцент на історії Польщі зіпсував усе. Мало уваги тут до України, бракувало мені теж балкан. Тема голокосту представленна побіжно, тема виникнення християнства повна скепсису та місцями зачіпає релігійні почуття.
May 14, 2009 Moominboy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I loved the balance Davies brought into the book - no longer was Eastern Europe left to the sidelines but it was returned to its rightful place , in there , in Europe! I Loved the little packaged bits that looked that topics in more detail... Brilliant. The best history of Europe yet!
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.
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.
Johnny Ryan
Nov 30, 2010 Johnny Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, beautifully written overview. Davies delivers a broad, sweeping history. One caveat: it passes quickly over detail, occasionally vaguely. Overall this is a masterpiece.
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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
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