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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 c 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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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 c 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.

30 review for Beneath Another Sky: A Global Journey into History and Memory

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    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 ma 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 more 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 world. But 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 more 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 more 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Knigoqdec

    Въпреки че първите две глави (визирам въведението и първата глава от същинското повествование) изобщо не ми харесаха, като цяло мнението ми за книгата е добро. Струва ми се, че авторът започна разказа си изключително разхвърляно. Имаше риск да оставя книгата още в първите двайсетина страници, но се преборих някак. Трудът е изключително интересен, тъй като се отнася до места, които никога или изключително рядко биват споменавани в обучението по история, независимо дали в училище или в университета Въпреки че първите две глави (визирам въведението и първата глава от същинското повествование) изобщо не ми харесаха, като цяло мнението ми за книгата е добро. Струва ми се, че авторът започна разказа си изключително разхвърляно. Имаше риск да оставя книгата още в първите двайсетина страници, но се преборих някак. Трудът е изключително интересен, тъй като се отнася до места, които никога или изключително рядко биват споменавани в обучението по история, независимо дали в училище или в университета. При това не говорим само за чиста история, но и за богати примеси от науки като културологията, етнологията, лингвистиката и прочие. Идеята е чудесна и поднасянето ѝ общо-взето като вид пътепис улеснява достъпа и на неспециалисти. Щом изпитах момента, в който завидях (не)благородно на автора, задето има възможност да посети тези места и да види толкова много, значи "историческият пътеводител" е написан с талант. И най-важното - с уважение, разбиране и искрен интерес към различните, което прави описаното по-цветно и ярко.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sense of History

    This indeed is a 'global' history, but only in so far that Davies offers us a view on about 15 places, scattered around the globe, that he visited in the years before the publication of this book. It's a kind of historical compendium, in line with his previous book 'Vanished Kingdoms of Europe'. But at times it's more of a travelogue. And though this makes up for a rather light and entertaining read, it's also source of resentment because of the superficialness (something you wouldn't expect of This indeed is a 'global' history, but only in so far that Davies offers us a view on about 15 places, scattered around the globe, that he visited in the years before the publication of this book. It's a kind of historical compendium, in line with his previous book 'Vanished Kingdoms of Europe'. But at times it's more of a travelogue. And though this makes up for a rather light and entertaining read, it's also source of resentment because of the superficialness (something you wouldn't expect of Davies). A pity. Of course, Davies still succeeds in offering a diverting and interesting historical read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Христо Блажев

    Под различни небеса човечеството показва различните си лица: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/p... “Под различни небеса” е възхвала на пътуването като най-висшето човешко действие. В своя пространен предговор Дейвис говори подробно за пътешествениците в историята, за ролята им в опознаването на разделените и толкова самобитни части на света, за смелостта им да идат там, където никой не е бил, понякога за фантазията, която твърде щедро използват, но и за разширяването на човешките хоризонти, ко Под различни небеса човечеството показва различните си лица: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/p... “Под различни небеса” е възхвала на пътуването като най-висшето човешко действие. В своя пространен предговор Дейвис говори подробно за пътешествениците в историята, за ролята им в опознаването на разделените и толкова самобитни части на света, за смелостта им да идат там, където никой не е бил, понякога за фантазията, която твърде щедро използват, но и за разширяването на човешките хоризонти, което утъпква пътя към следващите поколения, които поемат по тези следи. И сам залага за себе си жалоните, които иска да постигне, земите, които иска да посети, и в крайна сметка целта, която е нищо по-малко от един мащабен поглед към човешките миграции, към различните култури и влиянието, което си оказват една на друга, към мирната търговия и жестоките завоевания, които винаги се движат ръка за ръка. Хората наистина най-добре умеем да пътуваме, да търгуваме и да воюваме – и всичко е следствие на постоянната страст за промяна, която никоя власт, политическа или религиозна, не е можела да потуши. CIELA Books http://knigolandia.info/book-review/p...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Where do I start with this? On the positive side Professor Davies is an engaging writer who rarely bores. I learnt a lot reading this book, especially as my knowledge of history outside of Europe is shamefully poor. There are some wonderfully titbits of knowledge, my favourite being that of the Tahitian Queen Aimate whose name the Europeans believed to mean "beloved" but that actually translated as "Eyeball-eater". I found his chapter on air disasters, particularly MH370 illuminating and at times Where do I start with this? On the positive side Professor Davies is an engaging writer who rarely bores. I learnt a lot reading this book, especially as my knowledge of history outside of Europe is shamefully poor. There are some wonderfully titbits of knowledge, my favourite being that of the Tahitian Queen Aimate whose name the Europeans believed to mean "beloved" but that actually translated as "Eyeball-eater". I found his chapter on air disasters, particularly MH370 illuminating and at times he writes with real verve and energy. But, and there are a lot of Buts. There is very little here that could not be gleaned from Wikipedia, and despite the book being touted as a blend of history and travel journal, there is in fact comparatively little of the latter. The chapter on Manhattan provides us with no evidence that Davies has ever travelled to New York at all. Elsewhere there are small vignettes of encounters with locals, sometimes expressed in rather odd ways - Malaysians are dark and stocky, his Azerbaijani guide is dark haired and dark eyed. Like most Asians, in fact. And then there are the mis-steps, factual errors and dodgy history. Norman Davies is an acknowledged expert in European, especially East European history, but once outside of his natural subject, he is less certain. So there are the errors of cultural understanding: the Church of North India is emphatically not an Anglican church. It's a uniquely Indian expression of Protestant Christianity - albeit one which has Cathedrals and Bishops. Then there are the errors of fact: The United States is made up of 50, not 51 states. The English Philosopher Roger Bacon preceded Leonardo da Vinci by 200, not 300, years. There are quirky typos, or faulty maths: The indigenous Tasmanians may have been around for 10,000 years before the first Europeans arrived, but that does not equate to 4000 generations. Unless, that is, the Tasmanians had the life span of a hamster. And then there is the sloppy history. Take this paragraph, for instance: "In July 1776, when American Independence was declared, crowds gathered on the bowling green in Lower Manhattan to witness a patriotic ceremony. The centrepiece of the action was to be the toppling of an equestrian statue of King George III... A surviving print of the era shows how the demolition was done. A number of ropes were fastened around the monarch's head and that of his horse, and a gang of black slaves, stripped to the waist, were brought in to heave on the ropes in rhythmic unison and to pull the monument crashing down. Yet half a century later, when the scene was painted for posterity by the German-American clergy and artist Johannes Oertel (1823-1909), the details were incomplete... The Afro-American slave gang that actually did the work is nowhere to be seen. Such was the self-image that the newly liberated citizens wished to portray." But hold on. Oertel was born in 1823, 47 years after the events depicted. He could not have re-painted the scene half a century later. A quick Wikipedia search finds the painting dated to c.1859, a full 83 years later. The work is not that of newly liberated citizens but of antebellum New Yorkers who would certainly have had their own reasons to erase the history of their forebears' slave-keeping. So overall the book is well-written, albeit far too long (the chapter on the United Arab Emirates could most certainly have been excised), but has been poorly researched and proof-read and so sadly does not stand comparison with his other works.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    A beautiful and scholarly work. Highly recommended. This book takes you so far away. It takes you to places you have never heard of . Truly wonderful. This work is mesmerizing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jarvo

    Its lovely to think about travel in retirement, and if you are a prominent historian like Norman Davies you can combine a round the world trip on a gap year with writing a book. This book is a combination of history - which is expert - and travel writing, which is occasionally a little bit amateur, in that it reads like something I might have written myself. It charts an amazing itinerary, and gave me itchy feet for visiting the likes of Baku and Tasmania, with deep insight into colonialism and Its lovely to think about travel in retirement, and if you are a prominent historian like Norman Davies you can combine a round the world trip on a gap year with writing a book. This book is a combination of history - which is expert - and travel writing, which is occasionally a little bit amateur, in that it reads like something I might have written myself. It charts an amazing itinerary, and gave me itchy feet for visiting the likes of Baku and Tasmania, with deep insight into colonialism and the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. The author has a particular feel for geography (which is handy given the approach of the book) and language. Chapters are often called by earlier or alternate versions of the names of the places visited (beginning with Kernow for Cornwall). It makes it clear that things are mutable, that there is more than one way of looking at things, and that we should not always rely on the European view. Chapters on Texas and Singapore were highlights for me. I've given it three stars because ultimately I think the book might be less than the sum of its part. In many ways it is a plea for global history, and it might have had more of an impact with a conventional approach outlining the case more clearly. Enjoyable though.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katya Shtatnova

    Путевые заметки автора, совершившего кругосветное путешествие, в которых он обращается к истории выбранных им регионов. Собрание интересных фактов, изложенное живым языком с добавлением личных впечатлений автора от путешествия. Достаточно академичный, но не сухой труд.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Reader

    This is, essentially, Davies' account of his gap year - taken in his late 70s as a historian with a genuinely global perspective. In each location, he gives a brief tourist's guide, but then the angle widens and he sets the present in the contest of an always contested past, writing with judicious observation and thoughtful commentary. His perspective is deeply humane. Not all of his judgements are right, but his perspective is global and the world looks slightly different after you've read Davi This is, essentially, Davies' account of his gap year - taken in his late 70s as a historian with a genuinely global perspective. In each location, he gives a brief tourist's guide, but then the angle widens and he sets the present in the contest of an always contested past, writing with judicious observation and thoughtful commentary. His perspective is deeply humane. Not all of his judgements are right, but his perspective is global and the world looks slightly different after you've read Davies.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Philip Tadros

    A thrilling ride; delightful. It's history, geography, culture, and travel literature all in one! A thrilling ride; delightful. It's history, geography, culture, and travel literature all in one!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian Marek

    Książkę dostałem chyba ze dwa lata temu i w końcu skończyłem ją czytać. 800 stron podróży historyka przez historię. Dosłownie i w przenośni. Niezwkle spodobało mi się podejście pana Davies'a do tematu. Ogromnie szanuję pana Davies'a jako historyka, mimo że nie zawsze zgadzam się z jego opinami, tym bardziej, że jako brytyjczyk z urodzenia na pewno bardziej obiektywnie podchodzi do historii Polski. Ta książka jednak niewiele ma wspólnego z historią Polski, choć bardzo ciekawie autor wplata "polsk Książkę dostałem chyba ze dwa lata temu i w końcu skończyłem ją czytać. 800 stron podróży historyka przez historię. Dosłownie i w przenośni. Niezwkle spodobało mi się podejście pana Davies'a do tematu. Ogromnie szanuję pana Davies'a jako historyka, mimo że nie zawsze zgadzam się z jego opinami, tym bardziej, że jako brytyjczyk z urodzenia na pewno bardziej obiektywnie podchodzi do historii Polski. Ta książka jednak niewiele ma wspólnego z historią Polski, choć bardzo ciekawie autor wplata "polski punkt widzenia" na miejsca i wydarzenia, które opisuje. Wędrując "dookoła świata" pan Davies odwiedza po drodze kraje głownie związane z obecnością w nich imperium brytyjskiego - Azerbejdżan, Zjednoczone Emiraty Arabskie, Indie, Malezję, Singapur, Mauritius, Tasmanię, Nową Zelandię, Tahiti, USA, Maderę i Niemcy. Momentami wydaje mi się, że miektóre rozdziały były pisane troszeczkę na siłę (i właśnie wtedy czytanie szło niezwykle ciężko), ale rekompensowane to jest rozdziałami perełkami, które nieraz odrywały mnie od książki tylko po to by spojrzeć na mapę świata i wirtualnie odwiedzić opisywane miejsca i głębiej poznać ich historię. Paradoksalnie uważam, że książka powinna rozpocząć się od ostaniego rozdziału - "Przemyśleć kanon na nowo", w którym autor w pełni ukazuje swój profesjonalizm jako historyk. Historia, to nie suchy daty, nazwiska, wydarzenia. Historia, to umiejętność spojrzenia w przeszłość, próba zrozumienia tych, którzy żyli przed nami, tak aby rozglądając się dookoła widzieć te miejsca w pryzmacie setek i tysięcy lat przed nami. Tak, aby zastanowić się co pozostanie po nas. Historia ma wiele wymiarów, w zależności od tego kto ją opowiada. Ale historię tworzymy także my i warto sobie uzmysłowić, że to co po nas zostanie może zostać opisane (i ocenione) z zupełnie innej perspektywy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ian Hunter

    I'm not sure what I expected, but it turned out to be a fun, interesting, informative and thought-provoking read. Norman Davies travels to some often overlooked destinations, mostly with some colonial past which is described in great detail. Intertwined with the journey, we have some comment and thoughts on the present day location, as well as little bit of family history in the form of the family stamp collection. I was remined a little of Bill Bryson as we travelled the world, but with perhaps I'm not sure what I expected, but it turned out to be a fun, interesting, informative and thought-provoking read. Norman Davies travels to some often overlooked destinations, mostly with some colonial past which is described in great detail. Intertwined with the journey, we have some comment and thoughts on the present day location, as well as little bit of family history in the form of the family stamp collection. I was remined a little of Bill Bryson as we travelled the world, but with perhaps more focus on the history and past of each destination. Great read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jacek Białobrzeski

    Uwielbiam tego historyka. Uwielbiam jego podejście do pozyskiwania wiedzy, pogłębiania jej, tworczego i inspirującego kojarzenia faktów z rozumieniem kontekstu, trendu spoleczno - politycznego, zmiany. Szanuję duży obiektywizm. To nie jest najlepsza jego książka, ale dobrze rozumiem potrzebę jej napisania i wydania. I dostarcza mnostwa ciekawych informacji. I kontekstów właśnie.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fraser

    An interesting weave between geography, history and travelogue. The structure and breadth both loose and bewildering at times, the main premise of global history and European imperialism is neatly condensed in the final chapters.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    After the amazing Vanished Kingdoms my expectations were high, and I was disappointed. The history parts were very interesting, but I did not enjoy the travelogue, and that spoiled it for me. I skipped a fair bit of hotel and dinner descriptions to get to the history, which was tedious to do.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    Racist man goes on holiday and reads Wikipedia afterwards. That isn't a joke- see pp.318-9, where he complains about Mauritius's Wikipedia page. Racist man goes on holiday and reads Wikipedia afterwards. That isn't a joke- see pp.318-9, where he complains about Mauritius's Wikipedia page.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    A very informative read. Having read "Vanished Kingdoms" from Norman Davies, I read this. He has a wonderful eye for these great stories and it helped in learning about particular places A very informative read. Having read "Vanished Kingdoms" from Norman Davies, I read this. He has a wonderful eye for these great stories and it helped in learning about particular places

  18. 4 out of 5

    Johanne

    Its a good slow read, I dipped in an out over quite a long period of time. essentially it is part travelogue, mostly history and a little geography from one of Europe's most respected historians Its a good slow read, I dipped in an out over quite a long period of time. essentially it is part travelogue, mostly history and a little geography from one of Europe's most respected historians

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jack Vleugels

    Interesting but exhaustive and therewith sometimes distracting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kasiek

    http://kasiek-mysli.blogspot.com/2018... http://kasiek-mysli.blogspot.com/2018...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Boris Dobrev

    "Под различни небеса" от Норман Дейвис. Завърших 2020 година с този невероятно обемен и впечетляващ том, обхващащ световната история. Разбира се, невъзможно е да се обхване цялата история на всички народи, но поне по-интересните дялове биват пространно и подробно описани. Книгата представлява невероятно добра комбинация между околосветско пътешествие и история. Макар обемът на книгата (798 страници с бележките!!!) да плаши много читатели, книгата наистина си струва да се прочете. Интересни факти "Под различни небеса" от Норман Дейвис. Завърших 2020 година с този невероятно обемен и впечетляващ том, обхващащ световната история. Разбира се, невъзможно е да се обхване цялата история на всички народи, но поне по-интересните дялове биват пространно и подробно описани. Книгата представлява невероятно добра комбинация между околосветско пътешествие и история. Макар обемът на книгата (798 страници с бележките!!!) да плаши много читатели, книгата наистина си струва да се прочете. Интересни факти за посетените местенца се нижат страница след страница, а съдържанието на книгата може да обогати дори най-запаления историк. Авторът, Норман Дейвис, е изключително ерудиран историк, който не цитира просто факти, но изказва и обосновава своята позиция по множество съвременни проблеми. През голяма част от книгата авторът непрекъснато споделя своите размишления относно загадката около изчезването на малайзийския полет MH370, която премести медийния фокус върху Югоизточна Азия и всички конспиративни теории. Авторът пътува от родината си Корнуол, преминава през бързо развиващия се Дубай, екзотиката на Югоизточна Азия и островите в Тихия океан, и затваря обиколката на Света отново в Европа. Препоръчвам книгата на любителите на пътешествия и история. 🌍🌎🌏🗽🕌🛕🕍🌇✈️

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mendoza

    This is nothing more than a set of travel tales / info dumps about randomly selected points of Planet Earth that the author happened to pass through on a lecture tour. None of the locations are particularly esoteric (I've been to most of them) and Davies does not have anything radical to say about any of them - in fact most of his chapters are part history lesson, part Wikipedia-style datarrhea, part tourist guide for elderly academics (endearingly, Davies is not afraid to appear as a remarkably This is nothing more than a set of travel tales / info dumps about randomly selected points of Planet Earth that the author happened to pass through on a lecture tour. None of the locations are particularly esoteric (I've been to most of them) and Davies does not have anything radical to say about any of them - in fact most of his chapters are part history lesson, part Wikipedia-style datarrhea, part tourist guide for elderly academics (endearingly, Davies is not afraid to appear as a remarkably clueless traveler, seemingly in need of Embassy support to move around major cities). But nevertheless most of the book is interesting and, in the end, not that hard to get through, despite its considerable length. What lets it down however, is the very large number of factual mistakes, ranging from the subtle to the truly absurd. When I read that wine accounts for 72% of New Zealand's exports, I don't need Google to know that this statistic cannot possibly be correct. (The Internet was however helpful in finding out the true value, which is around 3%). Also, amusingly, Davies gives the number of US states as 51. Presumably he forgot that Britain hasn't formally applied to join yet. As a reader one can only shake one's head and read on; but unfortunately, seeing so many errors ends up undercutting the enjoyment of reading about those subjects that one knows nothing about - if the authors (and his editors) have left so much nonsense in, how do I know that what I am learning is reliable?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amaranta

    This is the book you get when a very erudite Historian travels around the world on a holiday/lecture-giving tour. Departing from the UK, he stops in Baku in Azerbaijan, the Emirates, India, Mauricius Island, Malaysia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Tahiti, Texas, Madeira, Frankfurt and back to the UK. Norman Davies shows, with some well chosen examples that are generoulsly developped, how the History of a place is still apparent and explains a lot of current situations. The result is like the dream travel This is the book you get when a very erudite Historian travels around the world on a holiday/lecture-giving tour. Departing from the UK, he stops in Baku in Azerbaijan, the Emirates, India, Mauricius Island, Malaysia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Tahiti, Texas, Madeira, Frankfurt and back to the UK. Norman Davies shows, with some well chosen examples that are generoulsly developped, how the History of a place is still apparent and explains a lot of current situations. The result is like the dream travel guide where the history section is the contrary of boring.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Agata Wilska

  25. 4 out of 5

    Edd Alexander

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Price

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ania Kowalewska

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wiktoria Michalak

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jacek Majecki

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