Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe” as Want to Read:
The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Modern-day Europeans by the millions proudly trace back their national identities to the Celts, Franks, Gauls, Goths, Huns, or Serbs--or some combination of the various peoples who inhabited, traversed, or pillaged their continent more than a thousand years ago. According to Patrick Geary, this is historical nonsense. The idea that national character is fixed for all time ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published February 2nd 2003 by Princeton University Press (first published 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Myth of Nations, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Myth of Nations

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  265 ratings  ·  33 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe
Katia N
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book describes the genesis of different people in Europe and the related "mythology" used for justification the national states building in Europe the 19th century and beyond. It is surprising how such a slim volume can summarise so many details. It slightly rushes through the genesis of Slavic tribes, but for the rest it is impressive in its precision.

To demonstrate how the historiography affects and being affected by our convictions and beliefs, he brings the example of Zulu tribe and its
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Patrick Geary's The Myth of Nations has only become more relevant in the fifteen or so years since its first publication. In this short, lucid, but highly thought-provoking book, Geary explores how the period between the third and ninth centuries have been appropriated by nationalists and racists who claim to find in that period a definitive origin of contemporary European peoples. Geary dismantles these myths and shows instead that the names of ethnicities are less descriptors of biological ...more
Mar 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Someone who wants to critique Geary's flawed argument
I should start by saying I don't think this is a bad book. I just find Geary's argument flawed, and as such disagree with his conclusion.

In sum, Geary argues that the medieval territories that now comprise contemporary European nations did not view themselves as bound to each other, and consequently it is erroneous to speak of the "nation" of England (or France, or Germany, or Greece) during ancient and medieval time periods. With the 18th century the concept of a "nation" was developed, and
Oct 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Neophytes of Late Antique/Dark Age history
Shelves: history-general
The Myth of Nations is the third book in my "trilogy" of Late Antique histories, the first two being Frontiers of the Roman Empire and Barbarian Tides. Unlike these titles, the current book is not an academic work. Instead, Geary's audience is the general reader with an interest in history (p. 185). Beyond that, he wants to argue that modern national identities are the products of 18th and 19th century European state-building. In reality, identity (whether "constitutional" or "organic") is a ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval-history
Eigentlich ein sehr interessantes Thema und spannender Buchtitel. Jedoch schweift der Autor an mehreren Stellen vom eigentlichen Thema ab. So ist der Exkurs über die Zulus fast gänzlich irrelevant. Es werden viele Ansätze angeschnitten, jedoch nicht wirklich ausgeführt. Geary versucht den Nationalismus zu erklären und als ein falscher Grundsatz darstellen zu lassen. Jedoch führt er seine Argumentationsstränge nicht vollkommen zu ende und so verliert Geary sich ein bisschen in seiner eigenen ...more
Nov 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, school
Patrick Geary’s Myth of Nations endeavors to prove that the national definitions of European nations are inaccurate due to the fluid nature of early European people groups. Further he hopes to establish these definitions as political and racial in origin while shining a light on the role of historians in crafting this inaccurate narrative from the past. This misinterpretation of the past, Geary postulates, has been co-opted by nationalistic movements, which have “summoned millions of people ...more
Miloš Kostić
Većina rečenica iz sledećeg teksta je prepisana iz knjige. Ja sam ih samo malo sredio kako bih dobio kompaktan tekst.

Nacionalizam je tvorevina romantizma 19. veka u kombinaciji sa „naučnom“ istorijom i indoevropskom filologijom. Nema tu ničeg drevnog. Pogleda na prošlost je zamagljen istorijskim istraživanjima u poslednja dva veka. Nacionalističke istorije se pre temelje na političkim i kulturnim shvatanjima autora koji ih pišu nego na stvarnim činjenicama.
Nacionalističke metode obuhvataju
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I definitely liked it, and it pretty much shook my entire perception of peoplehood - reading the brief section on the Bulgars and how they had split from the Avars is totally and utterly unlike anything I was taught in school in terms of the origins of the Bulgars. Being Bulgarian, this really caused me to reconsider everything I was taught about our historical continuity as a people - a concept which really is quite ridiculous. Geary does a great job in describing the fluidity of identity and ...more
Lauren Albert
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-european
Wonderful incisive look at the changing ideas of nationhood which disputes any idea of fixed national identities stemming from some distant past.

“When contemporary nationalists appeal to history, their notion of history is static: they look to the moment of primary acquisition, when ‘their people,’ first arriving in the ruins of the Roman Empire, established their sacred territory and their national identity. This is the very antithesis of history. The history of European peoples in Late
Judyta Szaciłło
It's an obligatory classic for anyone taking a real interest in history. I haven't read it in my undergrad years, as the Polish historiography has its own excellent classic title covering the same subject area (see Świt narodów europejskich). Now, it pleases me to see that the English-speaking world has also produced an accessible study on this subject. It shows to a lay reader that the so-called nations as we understand them today are relatively recent phenomena, and that the historical ...more
Ryan Handermann
Mar 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Very good book on the strange modern idea of nationalism.

What is a nation? It is an idea, mostly a lie that philologists made up, and then political states took to "legitimize" their power and justify "reclaiming" land that "rightfully" belongs to them.

This is why I like Thucydides so much. He is so honest. "You are weak. I am strong. Therefore, I will kill you and take your land. Goodbye."

Balázs Kis
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a great source of thoughts. And a liberating read.
Brittany Petruzzi
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting take, especially in light of books I've read since such as Leithart's Defending Constantine.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Egyfelől A nemzetek mítosza „pusztán” egy remek könyv arról a történelmi fekete lyukról, ami a Nyugat-Római Birodalom felbomlása és a nagy keresztény államok megjelenése között ásítozik legtöbbünk fejében. Ez az a periódus, amikor az ilyen-olyan barbárok közösségei gyökeret vertek Európában, kereszténnyé váltak, és nekiálltak betölteni a latin civilizáció összeomlása után keletkezett hiátust. Nos, nagyon tanulságos, most legalább tudom, kik is azok a vandálok – azon túl, hogy édesapa szerint ők ...more
Sharat Buddhavarapu
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
In a few tumultuous months, that Iron Curtain, which had not only isolated the East but sheltered the West, rose to reveal a vast and profoundly dangerous Europe that stretched east to the Urals (p.2-3).

Patrick Geary wrote these words in 2002, long before the Great Recession set in and the European Union turned on itself, and yet they seem to speak directly to us. This book shows that the foundational myths of modern European nation-states are sorely lacking. At best, they're covers for an

Um bom panorama histórico do cenário europeu durante a Antiguidade Tardia e a Alta Idade Média. A grande deficiência do livro está na grande ideologização do autor, que de certa forma é anacrônica, na medida em que demoniza qualquer tentativa de etnogênese historicizada, como se fossem mitos a serem usados para um suposto mal político. A leitura, contudo, é fluída e o livro é bem escrito, apesar do hiato lógico entre a conclusão e o desenvolvimento da tese inicial.
Kaya Tokmakçıoğlu
Anderson, Gellner ve hatta Hobsbawm'dan sonra milliyetçilik(ler) üzerine okuduğum en doyurucu metinlerden biri Geary'nin çalışması. Yer yer fazlasıyla detaya boğulmakla birlikte, modern zamanları anlamak için muhakkak ama muhakkak Ortaçağ'a da bakmak gerektiğini öne sürüyor. Modern anlamda ulus formasyonunun oluşumunu ve bunun antik dönemler üzerinden meşrulaştırılmasını mit kavramı üzerinden ele alıyor "Uluslar Miti ve Avrupa'nın Kökenleri". Tarih üzerine kafa yormak için iyi bir egzersiz.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it
The introductory and concluding chapters are of greatest relevance. It should be noted, however, that much of Anderson's argument in the intervening chapters is conducted subtextually and is, therefore, weakened. A sound introduction to some key themes but not a complete capstone.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confuso se você não tem conhecimento prévio e massante em grande parte do livro, mas bastante informativo sobre a formação das nações étnicas (européias).
Ben Vos
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Unromantic, and rightly so.
Jun 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
“Os cínicos ou os néscios ignoram que o peso dos interesses e os interesses de peso transformaram os Estados Nacionais, uns mais que outros, em instrumentos de acumulação dos grandes grupos privados.” – Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo

Um mundo sem fronteiras – era assim antes do invento das nações. Para aqueles que se sentem orgulhosos de “sua terra” e “seu povo”, este livro mostra que estes não são nada mais, nada menos, que convenções modernas que freqüentemente visam a afirmação de uma minoria de poder
Marcelo Teixeira
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was unique in some way. It helps to understand how national identity develops and influences the choices that we do as part of a community. I truly loved this book and reccommend it to those who want to understand how our identity as a country works. It is well-written and easy to read despite the fact that talks about a subject that it is not well known to most people. The only thing that I dsliked was the examples given were for many times the ones from a distant past. Examples like ...more
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Compelling argument that many of the modern debates about nationhood and nationality are rooted in late-antiquities' myths. The idea that nations and nationalities are discrete and immutable is a relatively recent development, which Geary, I think rightly, puts in the late-18th and 19th century political zeitgeist, perhaps as a response to the 18th century idea of sovereignty; a group of people could claim for sovereignty regardless of political subjugation if they could describe themselves as a ...more
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Current European events and politics
This book is much more provocative than its title suggests. Geary applies to modern ethno-politics some of the knowledge to come out of research in the Antiquity/Medieval transition in the last 20 or so years (mostly published in the last 10). He contends that much of the recent and ongoing ethnic conflict in Europe is based on a flawed premise - that the groups today have been the same ever since they arose, which in Europe is mostly the early Medieval period (400-800). He shows that the ...more
Piers Haslam
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
A crushing indictment of nationalism based on Geary's intimate knowledge of the early Medieval period, which is so often misused by proponents of European nationalism. Geary is a fervent anti-nationalist and makes this extremely clear throughout the text.
I had come to many of his conclusions via my research into the period 400 – 1000 in Europe, so the book came as no shock. The move in history writing of seeing this era, and ethnogeneses, in a more complex light has been on the rise for decades,
Joacelio Moura
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: minha-biblioteca
História breve para leigos de como foram formados os povos europeus. O autor tenta desmistificar o processo de formação desses povos, mostrando-o como um processo lento, contínuo e complexo. Tenta ainda mostrar como os nacionalistas do século XIX, e alguns da atualidade, usaram os mitos de formação dos povos e etnias para alavancar suas plataformas políticas.
Jonny Dent
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
An excellent quick read illuminating the fallacies of notions national origins that arose (or were cooked up) in the 19th century to meet contemporary nationalistic objectives. The work is also very necessary as these myths are still very present in our current collective consciousness today.
David Rubin
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ever wonder about the origins of the current peoples and nations of Europe and how they developed? The answers that this book provides may surprise you. This is largely an academic text but for those interested in a new perspective on history, I highly recommend this treatise.
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-textbooks
Oct 07, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: history
Reading for Historical Myth Class.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568
  • Constantine the Emperor
  • Louis XIV: The Power and the Glory
  • Vara în care mama a avut ochii verzi
  • Die Physiker
  • The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It.
  • Lysistrata
  • De la Dacia antică la Marea Unire, de la Marea Unire la România de azi
  • Nightwing, Vol. 9: Burnback
  • Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Revised Edition)
  • O enigma și un miracol istoric: poporul român
  • Madness in Civilization: The Cultural History of Insanity
  • The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World's Longest Treasure Hunt
  • Mad Dogs, Englishmen, and the Errant Anthropologist: Fieldwork in Malaysia
  • The First Phone Call from Heaven
  • Taoism: The Enduring Tradition
  • Cannibals and Kings: Origins of Cultures
  • A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea
See similar books…
Patrick J. Geary is an American medieval historian and Professor of Western Medieval History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey