Books on European history

Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:04 AM
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Books on European history

I've planned a trip to Eastern Europe In July... Iím traveling to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Iíve been to Europe a few times but not to these particular countries.

Iíd like to do some reading about these areas Ė specifically about the history of this region of Europe (or Europe in general). Can anyone recommend any particular books? I know, Germany and WWII are very important and of course any good book would contain info about that... but I donít want it to be the entire book.

Appreciate any opinionsÖ thanks.
mhcatl is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Anything by Barbara Tuchman is good - although she deals more with Western European History.
semiramis is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:36 AM
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On Central Europe (I'm not gettuing into this nonsense about whether Czech's in Eastern Europe or not, but the area you're referring to is usually known collectively as Central Europe, or if you're really pretentious, Mitteleuropa) and the role it plays in the rest of Europe, both east and west of it, the best, most accessible, writer in English is Norman Davies.

"Europe: a history" is based on the revolutionary idea that what went on in medieval Warsaw or Rostock was just as important as the cavortings in Avignon or Siena. "Microcosm" crystallises all this into the history of the town most Westerners call Wroclaw or Breslau, but that's been called all sorts of other things by the many language groups who've lived in or near it, or under the jurisdiction of its spiritual or temporal lords.

Davies is, in spite of his often angelic writing, also an opinionated lout. But no-one's perfect.
flanneruk is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 09:56 AM
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I agree, Norman Davies! And maybe for Poland, Mitchner(?). A Polish text that can upset, The Painted Bird.
GSteed is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 11:40 AM
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Another vote for Norman Davies. It's a big book, but it distils an enormous amount of information into a very readable package.

For something very different, see if you can get hold of Patrick Leigh Fermor's account of walking across Europe as a young man in the early 30s - "A Time of Gifts" and "Between the Woods and the Water".
PatrickLondon is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Of course, Leigh-Fermor. Actuallly anything by him's wonderful, but the walking books are extraordinary. Makes today's backpackers look like complete wooses. And louts.


While we're at it. The early chapters of Simon Schama's "Landscape and Memory" do the same thing as Norman Davies in treating the early history along the Poland/Lithuania "border" as if it were as important as England or France.

For more recent history: "Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe" by Anne Applebaum
flanneruk is offline  
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