Europe East and West A Collection of Essays on European

Collected here for the first time are some of the numerous essays and lectures by Norman Davies author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Europe The Isles and Rising '44Spanning over a decade and a half of his remarkably prodigious career this highly accessible collection addresses many of the issues that continue to dominate the political and cultural climate of Europe todayIn Europe East and West Davies argues for a comprehensive view that challenges Western stereotypes and no longer ignores the history and experience of Eastern Europe He shows that the conventional exclusion of Central and Eastern Europe has led to serious shortcomings in our understanding of the most crucial episodes of European history namely the Second World War The essays collected in this volume confront prevalent distortions and prejudices taken together they also form a meditation on the art of history writing itselfFrom the classical origins of the idea of Europe to the division between East and West during the Cold War from the Jewish and Islamic strands in European history to the expansion of Europe to other continents from the misunderstood Allied victory in 1945 to Britain's place in Europe from reflections on the use and abuse of history to personal recollections on learning languages this companion volume to the bestselling Europe looks at European history from a variety of unusual and entertaining angles in an equally erudite and accessible way


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    Thirty years ago when I wrote my first book the Cold War was at its height I was hooked on this book of essays from this very first sentence in Davies' introduction Why? It came as quite a shock to realize that I was old enough to remember the time of the Cold War very well Thirty years ago?? I cannot overstate how much the Cold War affected us at the time As a schoolchild we often conducted drills of what to do in case of a nuclear attack As we crouched under our desks or filed into underground shelters we were filled with fear Meanwhile Spencer W Kimball in almost every address given to members of the Church urged them to pray for the breaking down of the Iron Curtain In these essays the historian Norman Davies laments the tendency of others of his profession to continue the attitudes of the Cold War ignoring Eastern Europe the non communist countries of Poland Hungary Czechlosovakia and indeed many countries of Western Europe in favor of a skewed view of Europe's history He calls this a mental gulf and essays to add variety to our anachronistic picture of European history This is a very readable collection which left me wanting I devoured the chapter which tells the story of how he wrote and organized his Europe A History I set myself the impossible task of writing a total history of European life in all aspects in all countries and in all periods I was fascinated to hear his views of why European history is so slanted It was interesting to see Davies blast the unwritten assumptions of the past and then to wonder why I had also accepted these assumptions Being surrounded by Muslims at the moment I avidly read his chapter on the Islamic strand in European history which you definitely don't get in high school or even college Western Civ classes My favorite chapter was the one on language and literature which presented his thesis through poetry literature and Davies' personal experience This book gave the impression that you were sampling just a taste of a vast untouched banquet which awaited the openminded student of European history