Beneath Another Sky A Global Journey into History eBook

In 2012 Norman Davies set off on a global circumnavigation Native Lands is his account of the places he visited and the history he found there from Abu Dhabi to Singapore the settlement of Tasmania to the short lived Republic of Texas As in Vanished Kingdoms Davies's historical gaze penetrates behind the present to see how things became as they are and how peoples came to tell themselves the stories which make up their identities Everywhere it seems human beings have been travelling pushing out others or arriving in terra nullius since the beginning of recorded time To whom is a land truly native? As always Norman Davies has his eye on the historical horizon as well as on what is close at hand and brilliantly complicates our view of the past


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    Norman Davies once wrote a history of Europe Europe A History that is among the best in its genre for me what an erudition and what a talent to tell a broad and richly varied story I could also appreciate his Vanished Kingdoms The History of Half Forgotten Europe about so called dead ends in history the states and nations that disappeared from the scene prematurely although that book tended to go in the direction of an encyclopaedic accumulation of facts This book perhaps his last major monograph also suffers from this shortcoming it tells the history of a dozen places in the world with great detail The book is only readable because almost all chapters are also presented as a travel story Davies offers the impressions of his visits to those sometimes very distant places scattered all over the worldBut that is where the misery begins the author regularly offers tourist cliché remarks trivial occurrences reports on dinners with diplomats etc From time to time Davies’ story strongly resembles that of an elderly white man who is bewildered by the exotic place he has ended up in And in that regard especially his closing chapter is a let down Davies makes an attempt to or less exonerate European nations from imperialist crimes by listing all the awful deeds committed throughout history by just about all nations and peoples even starting with the Celts and ancient Greeks Putting things into perspective is always in order but this is really absurd Of course I do share Davies' view that attention should be paid to global diversity and to the fundamental contingency in history And I must concede regardless of the downsides this comes into its own in this book