Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe

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Penguin Books Limited, Oct 27, 2011 - History - 830 pages

'Norman Davies has the gift of all great historians - the ability to make us rethink the past' The Times

'The past is a foreign country' has become a truism, yet we often forget that the past is different from the present in many unfamiliar ways, and historical memory is extraordinarily imperfect. We habitually think of the European past as the history of countries which exist today - France, Germany, Britain, Russia and so on - but often this actually obstructs our view of the past, and blunts our sensitivity to the ever-changing political landscape.

Europe's history is littered with kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age - 'the Empire of Aragon' which once dominated the western Mediterranean; the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, for a time the largest country in Europe; the successive kingdoms (and one duchy) of Prussia, much of whose history is now half-remembered at best. This book shows the reader how to peer through the cracks of mainstream history writing and listen to the echoes of lost realms across the centuries.

How many British people know that Glasgow was founded by the Welsh in a period when neither England nor Scotland existed? How many of us will remember the former Soviet Union in a few generations' time? Will our own United Kingdom become a distant memory too? As in his earlier celebrated booksEurope- aAhistoryand The Isles, Norman Davies aims to subvert our established view of what seems familiar, and urges us to look and think again. This stimulating surprising book, full of unexpected stories, observations and connections, gives us a fresh and original perspective on the history of Europe.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - expatscot - LibraryThing

An excellent book and one that I'd give 4.5 to if I could, dropping the half just because you have to have an interest to value it. Opinionated, impressively researched and excellently written this is ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dcunning11235 - LibraryThing

Holy crap, I finished it! It took me two months, but I did it. (To be fair, I had a 'few' things going on, and finished a few other books over the same period.) This book is dense. It really is. But ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Professor Norman Davies is an English historian of Welsh descent, known for his publications on the history of Europe and the British Isles. He is the author of the prize-winning history of Poland, God's Playground (1981) and the Number 1 best-seller in Britain Europe: A History (OUP, 1996). Professor Davies has been awarded the CMG in 2001 for services to history, and has collected several Polish distinctions, including the Order of Merit.

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