This is an important study of European History from the Fall of Constantinople to modern day.
But, man! Heed this warning! I can't imagine too many people enjoying this book unless they already have a firm foundation in European History to begin with. This is a study of the diplomatic history between European states, and if you have no foundational knowledge of European history, you'll probably find yourself lost in a tangle of wars and alliances that make no sense. This is NOT a book for beginners! If you need a great book on European History that's as big as a cinder block like this one, but more fun to read, then look at books by Norman Davies or Jacques Barzun.
However, if you do know your history and are interested in the nuances of political and diplomatic developments in Europe over the past 550 years, then Brendan Simms' book is magnificent in filling in a lot of gaps. It's a great learning tool. You can read it cover-to-cover for a sweeping historical panorama and connect-the-dots of European history. Or, you can pick it up and read chapters about eras you want to learn more about and neglect the rest, if you so choose.
It's not a page-turner but it is a majestic work of diplomatic history. I will admit that I enjoy the flesh-and-blood stories that make historical figures come to life. The cerebral historian may find my preference a bit camp and low brow. If you are one of these people, you can rest assured that there's absolutely nothing on the love life of any monarch in this book. Simms can write about war after war after war with as much ease as I sip my coffee. The reader will certainly learn all the diplomatic causes and effects of those wars--but next to nil of the human suffering.
This is a book that I needed to read so that I could fill in all those millions of little gaps in my knowledge of European history. It helped immensely.
- Paperback: 720 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 1 edition (27 March 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141037172
- ISBN-13: 978-0141037172
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 499 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)