Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe

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Penguin Books Limited, Oct 27, 2011 - History - 848 pages
11 Reviews

'The past is a foreign country' has become a truism, yet the past differs from the present in many unfamiliar ways and historical memory is extraordinarily imperfect. The degree to which we think of the European past as the history of France, Germany, Britain, Russia and so on, actually obstructs our view of former reality, and blunts our sensitivity to the ever-changing political landscape. Europe's past is littered with kingdoms, empires and republics which no longer exist but which were some of the most important entities of their day - 'the Empire of Aragon', which dominated the western Mediterranean in the thirteenth century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the largest country in Europe for part of the eighteenth century. This book shows the reader how to peer through the cracks of mainstream history-writing, and to catch a glimpse of the 'Five, Six or Seven Kingdoms of Burgundy'. How long will it be before the USSR, until recently one of the world's two superpowers, is wholly or half-forgotten as most of these? The histories of the lost echo across the centuries, mixed in with more familiar sounds. One of the purposes of this book is to help us hear them again more clearly, and appreciate where they came from.

As in his earlier celebrated books Europe and The Isles, Norman Davies aims to subvert our established view what looks familiar in history and urges us to look and think again. This stimulating book, full of unexpected stories, observations and connections, gives us a fresh and original perspective on European history.

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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)

Norman Davies was for many years a professor at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London University. He is the author of the acclaimed Vanished Kingdoms and the number one bestseller Europe: A History. His previous books, which include Rising '44, The Isles: A History and God's Playground: A History of Poland, have been translated worldwide. He has researched at universities from Harvard to Hokkaido, and is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford, and a visiting scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

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