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The first short, single-volume history of the continent, from the author of the bestselling A Short History of England Europe is an astonishingly successful place. In this dazzling new history, bestselling author Simon Jenkins grippingly tells the story of its evolution from warring peoples to peace, wealth and freedom - a story that twists and turns from Greece and Rom The first short, single-volume history of the continent, from the author of the bestselling A Short History of England Europe is an astonishingly successful place. In this dazzling new history, bestselling author Simon Jenkins grippingly tells the story of its evolution from warring peoples to peace, wealth and freedom - a story that twists and turns from Greece and Rome, through the Dark Ages, the Reformation and the French Revolution, to the Second World War and up to the present day.Jenkins takes in leaders from Julius Caesar and Joan of Arc, to Wellington and Angela Merkel, as well as cultural figures from Aristotle to Shakespeare and Picasso. He brings together the transformative forces and dominant eras into one chronological tale - all with his usual insight, colour and authority.Despite the importance of Europe's politics, economy and culture, there has not been - until now - a concise book to tell this story. Covering the key events, themes and individuals, Jenkins' portrait of the continent could not be more timely - or masterful.'Full of stand-out facts ... absolutely fascinating' - Richard Bacon, BBC Radio 2, on 'A Short History of England''Masterly, perhaps a masterpiece' - Independent, Books of the Year on England's Thousand Best Churches'Jenkins is, like all good guides, more than simply informative: he can be courteous and rude, nostalgic and funny, elegant, convincing and relaxed' - Adam Nicolson on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Evening Standard'Full of the good judgements one might hope for from such a sensible and readable commentator, and they alone are worth perusing for pleasure and food for thought' - Michael Wood on 'A Short History of England', New Statesman'Any passably cultured inhabitant of the British Isles should ask for, say, three or four copies of this book' - Max Hastings on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Sunday Telegraph


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The first short, single-volume history of the continent, from the author of the bestselling A Short History of England Europe is an astonishingly successful place. In this dazzling new history, bestselling author Simon Jenkins grippingly tells the story of its evolution from warring peoples to peace, wealth and freedom - a story that twists and turns from Greece and Rom The first short, single-volume history of the continent, from the author of the bestselling A Short History of England Europe is an astonishingly successful place. In this dazzling new history, bestselling author Simon Jenkins grippingly tells the story of its evolution from warring peoples to peace, wealth and freedom - a story that twists and turns from Greece and Rome, through the Dark Ages, the Reformation and the French Revolution, to the Second World War and up to the present day.Jenkins takes in leaders from Julius Caesar and Joan of Arc, to Wellington and Angela Merkel, as well as cultural figures from Aristotle to Shakespeare and Picasso. He brings together the transformative forces and dominant eras into one chronological tale - all with his usual insight, colour and authority.Despite the importance of Europe's politics, economy and culture, there has not been - until now - a concise book to tell this story. Covering the key events, themes and individuals, Jenkins' portrait of the continent could not be more timely - or masterful.'Full of stand-out facts ... absolutely fascinating' - Richard Bacon, BBC Radio 2, on 'A Short History of England''Masterly, perhaps a masterpiece' - Independent, Books of the Year on England's Thousand Best Churches'Jenkins is, like all good guides, more than simply informative: he can be courteous and rude, nostalgic and funny, elegant, convincing and relaxed' - Adam Nicolson on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Evening Standard'Full of the good judgements one might hope for from such a sensible and readable commentator, and they alone are worth perusing for pleasure and food for thought' - Michael Wood on 'A Short History of England', New Statesman'Any passably cultured inhabitant of the British Isles should ask for, say, three or four copies of this book' - Max Hastings on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Sunday Telegraph

30 review for A Short History of Europe: From Pericles to Putin

  1. 4 out of 5

    Defneandac

    Really short and fast history of Europe. Although it is short it's full of insight and information. Europe is the cradle of Western culture which dominates the world right now. The question is :' Can it keep on dominating the world?I think, If Europe learns to keep the peace it can. But the 2000 years of history is full of wars, religious conflicts and bloody massacres. During the peace times economy roars and cultural life improves. Bu it is very hard to maintain the peace. The EU project is a Really short and fast history of Europe. Although it is short it's full of insight and information. Europe is the cradle of Western culture which dominates the world right now. The question is :' Can it keep on dominating the world?I think, If Europe learns to keep the peace it can. But the 2000 years of history is full of wars, religious conflicts and bloody massacres. During the peace times economy roars and cultural life improves. Bu it is very hard to maintain the peace. The EU project is a hopeful one but it is kind of fading away. As China and Russia rising, and Trump unpredicatable EU leaders has to take the leadership role but they are not. Natonalism and fascism is rising around the globe and Europe.Democracy and human rights is an European value but will the Europeans commitment to them survive? As Bismarck once said :' The only thing we learn from history is nobody learns from history' I think this book offers a lot who wants to learn from history. We should always remember how fragile but important 'peace' is.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zeb Kantrowitz

    For anyone who has forgotten what they learned in High School or just have no memory of European History, this is the perfect book. It is written not by date or geography but by culture. Starting with Greece and following through to Rome, the Church, The Reformation, The Renaissance and then through nationalism to the current time. It gives you a solid basis from which to understand the interactions between current European nations and their former colonies. It makes it understandable how the dif For anyone who has forgotten what they learned in High School or just have no memory of European History, this is the perfect book. It is written not by date or geography but by culture. Starting with Greece and following through to Rome, the Church, The Reformation, The Renaissance and then through nationalism to the current time. It gives you a solid basis from which to understand the interactions between current European nations and their former colonies. It makes it understandable how the different European nations still react to each other even though the cause of the original arguments have long since past into the past. Well worth reading. Zeb Kantrowitz

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alice (Married To Books)

    The true history nerd within me from both school and college days was very pleased to find a copy of this book. It condenses hundreds of years of European history into a pleasant collection filled with facts, figures and faces (or the three Fs as I like to personally call them) There was a lot of military and political content, particularly towards the end. However, I knew that before going into reading it, this would be the case. A good and important collection of research and evidence from the The true history nerd within me from both school and college days was very pleased to find a copy of this book. It condenses hundreds of years of European history into a pleasant collection filled with facts, figures and faces (or the three Fs as I like to personally call them) There was a lot of military and political content, particularly towards the end. However, I knew that before going into reading it, this would be the case. A good and important collection of research and evidence from the past heading into the future!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cliff Ward

    The French Ambassador to Lord Palmerston: If I was not a Frenchman I should wish to be an Englishman. Lord Palmerson: Sir, if I was not Englishman I would wish to be an Englishman. Everyone knows some European history, taught to us by various well meaning school teachers. Clearly it depends on what country we are from and what events we are interested in as we navigate through our varied lives. I could have read many history books about many different subjects, indeed I have, but never got a good The French Ambassador to Lord Palmerston: If I was not a Frenchman I should wish to be an Englishman. Lord Palmerson: Sir, if I was not Englishman I would wish to be an Englishman. Everyone knows some European history, taught to us by various well meaning school teachers. Clearly it depends on what country we are from and what events we are interested in as we navigate through our varied lives. I could have read many history books about many different subjects, indeed I have, but never got a good overall picture of European history for the last 3000 years that this books captures in one reasonable read of 300 pages. This not only gives a new appreciation to how interconnected our European history is, it allows us to see how history developed and how one event led to another. This is particularly true when we look at the complex origins of countries such as France, Germany, and Italy. This book also very clearly shows us that war after revolt after revolution after riot after mob rule, mankind murdered mankind. As Voltaire said, all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers to the sound of trumpets. Most of this killing is sponsored by men who are either able to ride the victory, or else to flee in comparative peace after the result is settled. ‘All we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history’. Bismarck’s statement rings true in ancient Greece and Rome long before he was born, through the creation of his Prussian state, right through to well after he was dead. ‘Into the future?’ we timidly ask. We have only the careful structure of Government, random political leaders, and the thin will of the people to protect us. No book such as this, especially that written by an Englishman, can escape the ultimate question of the European Union and whether Britain’s escape is correct. Our continuing European leaders intent of their path of mass globalization and unlimited immigration can rest assured that a decision has been made based on the philosophy of Frenchman Rousseau who said all government requires a social contract where the members receive tolerance, equality before the law, freedom of speech, human and civil rights and consent to rule. The EU has broken that contract. Mr Cameron’s reforms were never treated with any seriousness by Mrs Merkel. Now Britain will need to prove it’s worth on a broader international stage. After those reforms can be considered in the longer term through the suffering of other members and the EU can develop into something more sensible, I hope Britain can return.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lise

    Simon Jenkins' writing is what we are all looking for in nonfiction: engaging, funny and clever. He fits in with authors like Diamond, Gombrich and Michael Lewis in that he enables us to pleasantly dive into their field of expertise. The frequent use of references is amusing, but double edged. While the book is a lot of fun when you get them, it makes it more of a "short history for the well-read" rather than a "short history for dummies", which I certainly experienced in passages I was not too Simon Jenkins' writing is what we are all looking for in nonfiction: engaging, funny and clever. He fits in with authors like Diamond, Gombrich and Michael Lewis in that he enables us to pleasantly dive into their field of expertise. The frequent use of references is amusing, but double edged. While the book is a lot of fun when you get them, it makes it more of a "short history for the well-read" rather than a "short history for dummies", which I certainly experienced in passages I was not too familiar with. However, the elegant manner he includes notable people of each age and draws up the big lines when history takes a new turn makes you forgive his occasional smugness. The book is written by an Englishman, and you can tell. The references give it away, and the broader Europe is sometimes overlooked to focus on the meddlings (or lack thereof) of the island nation. It is most notable in modern history, which might as well stem from the focus on military history. That being said, an equal representation is not in anyone's favour - it would make a "short history" an impossible task, and strip the book of momentum and audience. He has done a fine job of writing fairly unbiased, while not being afraid to spice it up with characteristics.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maria Espadinha

    Europe in a Snapshot Located in the Northern Hemisphere, Europe is home of 750 millions of humans. With more than 2000 years of age, this old continent has a lot to tell. However, SJ did the job in 400 pages Congratulations Mr. Jenkins 👍🌟🌟🌟🌟👍

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maddie O.

    I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley. This was exactly what it claimed to be- a short history of Europe. I thought the writing was excellent and accessible, and it was a great breakdown of the most important events and people in European history. I would definitely recommend it if you want a quick but useful refresher on the topic!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Victor Sonkin

    An excellent short account of European history, written by someone who's not an academic historian (and can write a lively piece of prose), who's level-headed enough and at the same time not quite neutral for the book to be boring. I am not very familiar with the large part of European history, and where I was, I only found one obvious mistake (Nero didn't throw anyone into the Colosseum arena: there was no Colosseum yet). An excellent achievement. An excellent short account of European history, written by someone who's not an academic historian (and can write a lively piece of prose), who's level-headed enough and at the same time not quite neutral for the book to be boring. I am not very familiar with the large part of European history, and where I was, I only found one obvious mistake (Nero didn't throw anyone into the Colosseum arena: there was no Colosseum yet). An excellent achievement.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ann Otto

    A good choice to tweak your memory-everything you learned about the history of Europe in high school and college but may have forgotten. As you read, memories of history, literature and historical fiction you've read return. Jenkins makes it interesting for general readers, not a history lesson. A book that should be re-visited often. A good choice to tweak your memory-everything you learned about the history of Europe in high school and college but may have forgotten. As you read, memories of history, literature and historical fiction you've read return. Jenkins makes it interesting for general readers, not a history lesson. A book that should be re-visited often.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wang

    Better than I thought and the author disabused people of some long-held myth such as Bastille. I do find one error where the author stated that Basque was the only part of Spain that wasn't conquered by the Moors. It's not correct. Asturias didn't fall into the Moors either. Better than I thought and the author disabused people of some long-held myth such as Bastille. I do find one error where the author stated that Basque was the only part of Spain that wasn't conquered by the Moors. It's not correct. Asturias didn't fall into the Moors either.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Somia

    99p on Amazon on the 17th October 2019

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vlad Sipos

    The Bible of European History. Definitely will be re-reading this one a few times. Highly recommend it to anyone who likes having a broad knowledge of History.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    A Short History of Europe begins with Neanderthals and concludes with the 2016 vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. In between are births, deaths, court intrigue and full-blown battles. Whether you are planning to go on Jeopardy or just want to impress academics with your cocktail party banter, A Short History of Europe will assist in your goal. Each chapter is just long enough to read before bed. With enough information to whet your curiosity, you too will be searching Wikiped A Short History of Europe begins with Neanderthals and concludes with the 2016 vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. In between are births, deaths, court intrigue and full-blown battles. Whether you are planning to go on Jeopardy or just want to impress academics with your cocktail party banter, A Short History of Europe will assist in your goal. Each chapter is just long enough to read before bed. With enough information to whet your curiosity, you too will be searching Wikipedia for more details of those characters that intrigue you. My only conplaint is the random first-person comments inserted within some of the chapters especially the rather long portion on the future of the EU at the end. However, the editing of over 4500 years into 400 extremely readable and interesting pages is pretty remarkable. 4 stars! Thanks to PublicAffairs/Perseus Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Drew Rochester

    In less than 300 pages, Jenkins covers the more-than-2,000-year history an entire continent. Needless to say, the pacing is rapid. Yet, the grandeur of the European story is not at all lost. A Short History of Europe is an excellent introduction to European history. It is as readable as it is fascinating. Despite its necessary brevity, the content is still intriguing and provides a great jumping-off point for deeper study in any area of European history. My appetite for books on British, French, In less than 300 pages, Jenkins covers the more-than-2,000-year history an entire continent. Needless to say, the pacing is rapid. Yet, the grandeur of the European story is not at all lost. A Short History of Europe is an excellent introduction to European history. It is as readable as it is fascinating. Despite its necessary brevity, the content is still intriguing and provides a great jumping-off point for deeper study in any area of European history. My appetite for books on British, French, and German history has been more than stimulated. A particular strength of A Short History of Europe, is the way in which it identifies common themes that have recurred throughout the continents many ages, regimes, and societies. One of the reasons history is so beneficial is that it provides an understanding of why the world is the way it is—not just by showing the path that has been followed, but also by explaining why all of the different turns were taken. This short read uncovers the centuries-old roots of the current European situation including the state of the EU, Brexit, Russian autocracy, and widespread increase of nationalism. If you are interested in history, I would highly recommend picking up a copy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeshua Amalesh

    An enlightening, but at times complicated read. It was arduous going through the events before Christ and even most of the first millennium AD as my knowledge of all those events is quite weak. Having a vague understanding of main characters and general themes is almost a pre-requisite to understanding any one section of this book. Having that though, it allows one to see the lengthy timeline of Europe all together. This was illuminating as it highlighted the cyclical nature of Europe's history a An enlightening, but at times complicated read. It was arduous going through the events before Christ and even most of the first millennium AD as my knowledge of all those events is quite weak. Having a vague understanding of main characters and general themes is almost a pre-requisite to understanding any one section of this book. Having that though, it allows one to see the lengthy timeline of Europe all together. This was illuminating as it highlighted the cyclical nature of Europe's history and how situations, which until now I took for granted, arose. This book has also piqued my interest into earlier parts of Europe's chronicle, such as the Norse expansion, the Holy Roman Empire and to even begin to comprehend the history of Eastern European countries.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emil

    Overall it is a good book, definitely worth the read, but keep in mind the author's positive and professional bias towards left and socialism that shapes his version of history, even if he never did live in socialistic society or social state. Overall it is a good book, definitely worth the read, but keep in mind the author's positive and professional bias towards left and socialism that shapes his version of history, even if he never did live in socialistic society or social state.

  17. 5 out of 5

    SB

    A Short History of Europe encapsulates millennia of history from Ancient Greece to the European Union, all in just over 300 pages. Jenkins’s writing style is light and colourful, illuminating the more humdrum episodes of the continent’s past- though even the darkest, dullest periods in the book scintillate, take it from someone who has studied British politics during the bleak 19th century. One long narrative of the developing embryo of European states and modern political architecture through e A Short History of Europe encapsulates millennia of history from Ancient Greece to the European Union, all in just over 300 pages. Jenkins’s writing style is light and colourful, illuminating the more humdrum episodes of the continent’s past- though even the darkest, dullest periods in the book scintillate, take it from someone who has studied British politics during the bleak 19th century. One long narrative of the developing embryo of European states and modern political architecture through endless wars and successions, colourful characters and interesting antagonists- European history is fascinating! I speak not from patriotic pride as an (ex) European (British for my sins), but Jenkins’ humorous writing style keeps the reader engaged and an abundance of asides help it read less like history and more like gossip. Of past empires, he writes that there was “no check on imperial discretion beyond assassination,” and “in 2015, the British prime minister, David Cameron, tossed Brussels a grenade,” and decided to vote on membership of the European Union. There’s nowt wrong with adding a bit of colour to history. Some funny or interesting quotes/ excerpts from European figures: “Above all, remain at peace with your neighbours. I loved war too much. Do not follow me in that, or in overspending,”- Wise words for inner city dwellers and those who inhabit the suburbs. “A queen without a realm, a Catholic without a faith and a woman without shame.” this is actually the title of my autobiography. “The defection of the army is not one of the causes of the revolution, it is the revolution.” This rings true from France to Cuba and generally in states where the army is strong and exists to keep the government in check (as is the case in many South American states). “Dictatorship thrives on poverty.” “Granada survived as a trading centre and a haven for refugees from religious intolerance. Ferdinand initially offered religious freedom of movement and religion in Granada but instantly reneged on his promise. The great library of Granada went up in flames.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bruno Espadana

    Condensing the history of Europe into 400 pages means you can’t expect depth and detail. Simon Jenkins assumes this right at the beginning - this is a short history of Europe, and thus, aimed at readers who want to have an overview of how this continent evolved over time, mainly from a political point of view. It does so convincingly and elegantly, covering all the main events that shaped the fates of its countries and its peoples - and hopefully leaving readers interested in digging more deeply Condensing the history of Europe into 400 pages means you can’t expect depth and detail. Simon Jenkins assumes this right at the beginning - this is a short history of Europe, and thus, aimed at readers who want to have an overview of how this continent evolved over time, mainly from a political point of view. It does so convincingly and elegantly, covering all the main events that shaped the fates of its countries and its peoples - and hopefully leaving readers interested in digging more deeply into specific topics, eras or geographies, into which other more focused books can go in much more detail. All in all, this is a great read for anyone interested in gaining an overview of how today’s Europe came to be - and how much of what it is today still mimics what it has always been through the centuries.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    A "great men" overview of the history of Europe. I presume the author is English, but in general he does well at keeping the appropriate focus on what has been deemed the "most relevant" stories of the development of Europe over time: quick prehistory primer, Greece, Rome, first migration period, Charlemagne and all that, "Holy Roman Empire," second migration and the Vikings, Britain vs. France/HRE vs. Pope, Habsburgs vs. everyone else, the French, and then the standard narratives since the Renai A "great men" overview of the history of Europe. I presume the author is English, but in general he does well at keeping the appropriate focus on what has been deemed the "most relevant" stories of the development of Europe over time: quick prehistory primer, Greece, Rome, first migration period, Charlemagne and all that, "Holy Roman Empire," second migration and the Vikings, Britain vs. France/HRE vs. Pope, Habsburgs vs. everyone else, the French, and then the standard narratives since the Renaissance. In general the narrative seems consistent with what I have seen in other textbooks, although I found one glaringly bad explanation: the author seems to have no understanding of the Christological controversies of the 5th century. Granted, anyone who claims to have complete understanding of those controversies is delusional; nevertheless, it cannot be said, as the author does, that it was all about the "Nestorians" vs. the "Orthodox," and the latter won. The lack of nuance actually hurts his arguments anyway: in truth, the whole thing was more smoke than fire, more political than anything else, with two groups going to extremes ("Nestorians" and "Monophysites"), and the "orthodox" trying to maintain some Biblical balance at Chalcedon (which, ironically, sounded more "Nestorian" than it did "Monophysite"). It wasn't just the Church of the East that broke away - so did the Syrian Orthodox and the Egyptian Orthodox (or Coptics); the latter groups were more than happy to welcome the Muslim invaders, since they ended up living under greater tolerance from them than the "orthodox" Byzantine emperor. In the book it's a minor point, and no one can be expected to have a full understanding of everything, but the way the Christological controversy was explained is a distortion of the historical accounts. All such explorations are done with motivations, and the author's seems to involve the push and pull about what it means to be "European." He seems eager to understand the current politics surrounding the European Union in terms of historic parallels: British vacillation about being "in" or "out" of Europe, northern vs. southern Europe, the lingering effects of Lotharingia, etc. There's certainly some evidence for all of this, and it's interesting, but it leads the author right into the "history of the moment," which is always a dangerous thing to explain, since it's hard to know what the controlling narrative might be. That controlling narrative looked one way in 2003; quite another in 2010; even more so in 2015; and blown up ever since. The author unapologetically tells the story according to the "great man" theory, so it's all about kings and wars and national boundary changes with a little bit of the arts, philosophy, etc. as it relates to historical developments. Caveat emptor. A decent introduction to European history. **--galley received as part of early review program

  20. 4 out of 5

    S. O'Loanley

    A 'conservative' history of Europe It's a relatively conservative history, written by a relative conservative - for the most part, it reports history (mainly battles and treaties) without analysis. The middle-section on the Medieval period especially suffers from list-of-battle-and-treaty-itis. The book in general could have benefited from taking a broader view - in the same number of pages, it should have been possible to touch more on the commercial and economic basis of the powers we deal wit A 'conservative' history of Europe It's a relatively conservative history, written by a relative conservative - for the most part, it reports history (mainly battles and treaties) without analysis. The middle-section on the Medieval period especially suffers from list-of-battle-and-treaty-itis. The book in general could have benefited from taking a broader view - in the same number of pages, it should have been possible to touch more on the commercial and economic basis of the powers we deal with, and the social conditions within the states, and especially how they change over time. In the introduction, Jenkins conveys he's sticking to a great-men-of-history approach largely for the sake of keeping the book short. But really, it also means Jenkins avoided having to even nod to conflicting perspectives in history, where a more ambitious author would have taken these on within the space constraints. In a time where Brexit dominates both headlines and Jenkins' own work schedule (he's a journalist), the authors' own opinions in Europe were always going to seep into the text. Anyone 'looking to history' for antecedents to present-day pro-Brexit attitudes (a desire to be apart from Europe and look more globally) will likely find this book gives them, more or less, exactly what they are looking for. This might sound odd to people overseas, but in the febrile atmosphere of Britain during Brexit, it seems obvious this book has been written with such readers in mind. Others, like me, will likely come away less satisfied. The Britain that emerges in Jenkins' history squats at the edge of the continent, quietly enriching itself while alternately encouraging and ignoring the continent's endless in-fighting. The bleak and amoral realpolitik which informed this outlook goes relatively uncriticised - but more importantly the massive empire that made such impartiality possible isn't examined in much detail. Britain barely appears in this history of Europe - Jenkins would likely argue the events are better covered in his 'A Short History of England'. But this only serves to underline the point that Jenkins has come firmly down on one side: the history of England and the history of Europe aren't the same story. It's a narrative which Jenkins isn't at pain to prove with what he says, but which comes about largely via omission. It's unfortunate. Recommended reading pattern: - Read the Greco-Roman section up to the Byzantines. - Read the 50 years up to Napoleon, through to the end of the book. - Go back and skim the Middle-Ages period. It's a difficult and relatively stagnant period of history and Jenkins has a much harder time making the events here seem important and relevant.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shapur

    Ah yes, the history of Europe. Also known as "the eastern/northern part of the continent doesn't exist". Remind me if I'm wrong, but Europe continues outside Spain, England and France. Right? Even Byzantium exists here just for the crusades. (Imagine surviving for a millenia only to be ignored in history books.) I guess the other ""major"" focus is Germany. Fine. Where is Italy? Poland? Central Europe? The Balkans are almost completely forgotten. Russia gets minimal attention later, I guess. Ther Ah yes, the history of Europe. Also known as "the eastern/northern part of the continent doesn't exist". Remind me if I'm wrong, but Europe continues outside Spain, England and France. Right? Even Byzantium exists here just for the crusades. (Imagine surviving for a millenia only to be ignored in history books.) I guess the other ""major"" focus is Germany. Fine. Where is Italy? Poland? Central Europe? The Balkans are almost completely forgotten. Russia gets minimal attention later, I guess. There is a single, A SINGLE chapter about Sweden. Why is there a chapter for the American revolution? And those "chapters" are maximum 2 pages each. Cowboy boios, called Magyars just spawn out of the wild east. Persians are there to be crushed by Rome and Greece. As always. Arabs are there to be crushed by France and later by the glorious Reconquista. Oh wait, no, wrong wikipedia article. Here Arabs barely scratch Byzantium before vanishing into mist. Goths arrive from the abyss of Asia and invade R O M E for the sake of it, destroy, plunder everything and then disappear from the face of the Earth. Some odd Vikings casually raid stuff with some dragon ships from the mysterious land of "North", where allegedly people exist. A strange species of Ottomans suddenly capture Constantinople and are never heard of again. Nothing about Pre-Ivan-the-Awesome™ Eastern Europe. Golden horde are hackers, they don't count. Nothing about Umayyad Iberia. Nothing about any group of ancient peoples except Rome and Greece. Byzantium is painfully passed by. The Balkans are a black hole. At least Austria gets mentioned from time to time. What the hell is this book? I can't see a simple reason for a historian to summarize such vast ocean of information into a book barely 300 pages long. It doesn't do its job properly, nor could it ever do. The concept is quite meaningless just by purport. There are also some factological errors. But that doesn't annoy me the most. The so called "history" is just blabbering and enumerating about different kings and wars and rulers and conflicts. Explain me why your damn Europe was so damn successful in everything, you damn historian! I want to hear about culture, language, beliefs, art, political structure, philosophy. I know the basic events, for Odin's sake. Almost everybody who cares for history knows them. Wikipedia does better in summarizing history than this book. You get the idea. The only reason I read the book was because it was given to me as a present. Not worth your time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roberto Gonzalez (Montag)

    A book too short for so much history. Still enjoyable if it wasn't ruined by the authors anti-European Union bias in the last chapters. A book too short for so much history. Still enjoyable if it wasn't ruined by the authors anti-European Union bias in the last chapters.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I must preface this review by saying that I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. A Short History of Europe: From Pericles to Putin is a capable single-volume history of the geopolitical entity of Europe. It is relative short and to the point. And it is relatively novel in that it eschews the history of the states of Europe. In his introduction, Simon Jenkins—a notable journalist and writer on history, politics, and architecture—makes the reader well aware that Jenkins is also aware I must preface this review by saying that I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. A Short History of Europe: From Pericles to Putin is a capable single-volume history of the geopolitical entity of Europe. It is relative short and to the point. And it is relatively novel in that it eschews the history of the states of Europe. In his introduction, Simon Jenkins—a notable journalist and writer on history, politics, and architecture—makes the reader well aware that Jenkins is also aware of the shortcomings of the book. And he encourages the reader to go deeper on their own, and provides the roadmap to do so. This gives the volume a lot of utility for the general public. Jenkins writes that he is writing a conventional history, meaning that he has divided the work into periods defined by Great Men and Great Powers. This political approach can be problematic in that it removes all other narratives, which Jenkins repeats are absolutely as important. They’re just outside his scope. And given the small page count, understanding how to control scope is important. The work is also quite unconventional. Jenkins is generally uninterested in the life and times of states. Those Great Men in his history are those who have transcended the nation and the state and affect a “continental consciousness”. As such, he begins with Greece. People existed before, a long line of European polities began long before we have names for the states and instead refer to the civilizations by their artifacts. But Greece not only introduced the concept of a Europe, but formed the basis of European identity through Hellenistic and Roman inheritance. From here, we move very swiftly through time. Important figures and population movements are the meat of the first third of the book. It’s this from which we have modern European states, which rose from Germanic kingdoms in France, Italy, and Spain on the ashes of Rome and the flourishing Roman Catholic religion. From there we delve more into the development of the modern state itself. In some ways, this may seem like it goes against the introduction’s insistence that individual states are not the focus, but if we view these vignettes as case studies which are representative of the growth of the state from a personal domain to a bureaucratic entity, from enslaved peoples to citizens with a social contract, it makes perfect sense. The last third looks at how these states interacted, writ large: Napoleonic Wars, the Peace of Metternich, two World Wars, and then the Cold War. It ends with a bit of a contradiction. On one hand, the European political system is seeming to unify into an ever-stronger federal system in the EU. Yet on the other, seeds of doubt are planted by a rebirth of nationalism and a Russia which seeks to profit from chaos if that EU breaks. The book ends on a bit of a down note, questioning the future of the relative peace and prosperity brought by these four thousand years of European existence. This is a good book for the layperson, who may not be terribly aware of European history or one seeking a history which goes beyond being a collection of national histories. The review copy I received does not have illustrations present, but it does include a considerable list which are to be included in the final version. Aside from that, it is well formatted and well edited. In the back is a list of works referenced, in lieu of citations; which is sufficient for the intended audience (who, frankly, probably aren’t interested in obscure scholarly works). Overall, this book is worth looking at.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dubi

    Two quick caveats from me: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which follows (thanks, NetGalley!). And in contrast to the author, I was a history major in college, with a focus on European history, although that was a long time ago and this book was a nice refresher which will serve me well should I ever be a contestant on Jeopardy! A couple of important caveats from the author, one in his prologue, one in his epilogue. He tells us right at the Two quick caveats from me: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which follows (thanks, NetGalley!). And in contrast to the author, I was a history major in college, with a focus on European history, although that was a long time ago and this book was a nice refresher which will serve me well should I ever be a contestant on Jeopardy! A couple of important caveats from the author, one in his prologue, one in his epilogue. He tells us right at the start that this is meant to be a short history, according to its title, and therefore covers the breadth of Europe's past without going into depth -- I've read books much much longer on individual topics, like the French Revolution or WWII. That means that he focuses on political history, which means military history since Europe almost always seems to be at war. In the epilogue, he reminds us that he is not a historian and therefore relies on secondary sources -- i.e. the work of actual historians. He is a journalist and he has done a credible job of reporting on the work of historians, distilling their ideas into short statements that, according to my recollection, are mostly accurate (perhaps even completely accurate -- my memory is not good enough to be completely emphatic about it). "What we learn from history is that no one learns from history," Bismarck said, as Simon Jenkins tells us in A Short History of Europe. That is what I took away as the main message that Jenkins wants us to heed -- that we are possibly on the cusp of seeing a repeat of the same historical mistakes Europe has consistently committed as it inevitably wound its way to its next disaster. The Short History is designed to show us that there has been a recurring cycle of east-west and north-south divides, with Britain trying to keep itself at least partially out of the fray, that lead to war, often senselessly. Right now, with Russia's aggressive response to NATO taking over the former Soviet Bloc states, Britain distancing itself from the continent via Brexit, and nationalism again on the rise, the mostly peaceful post-WWII, post-Cold War era may yet again devolve into conflict. That the U.S. is embroiled in its own political divisions and is (at least temporarily) shifting its European positions (or threatening to do so) is further cause for alarm. I recognize Jenkins's reasons for sounding such an alarm -- as an American I am alarmed at what is going on in the U.S. and as a Europhile I would hate to see my favorite continent eat itself up again. But that is the conclusion the book reaches in its final chapter. To that point, it is as promised a concise retelling of Europe's past from a geopolitical perspective, and despite being historical non-fiction, it makes for a page-turner of a story. Nevertheless, I give it four stars for being very good, but I can't go to five stars because I really did want more depth in place -- yes, that's probably more to do with me as a one-time history major, but another 50-75 pages to go into some greater detail would not have hurt.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dubi

    Two quick caveats from me: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which follows (thanks, NetGalley!). And in contrast to the author, I was a history major in college, with a focus on European history, although that was a long time ago and this book was a nice refresher which will serve me well should I ever be a contestant on Jeopardy! A couple of important caveats from the author, one in his prologue, one in his epilogue. He tells us right at the Two quick caveats from me: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which follows (thanks, NetGalley!). And in contrast to the author, I was a history major in college, with a focus on European history, although that was a long time ago and this book was a nice refresher which will serve me well should I ever be a contestant on Jeopardy! A couple of important caveats from the author, one in his prologue, one in his epilogue. He tells us right at the start that this is meant to be a short history, according to its title, and therefore covers the breadth of Europe's past without going into depth -- I've read books much much longer on individual topics, like the French Revolution or WWII. That means that he focuses on political history, which means military history since Europe almost always seems to be at war. In the epilogue, he reminds us that he is not a historian and therefore relies on secondary sources -- i.e. the work of actual historians. He is a journalist and he has done a credible job of reporting on the work of historians, distilling their ideas into short statements that, according to my recollection, are mostly accurate (perhaps even completely accurate -- my memory is not good enough to be completely emphatic about it). "What we learn from history is that no one learns from history," Bismarck said, as Simon Jenkins tells us in A Short History of Europe. That is what I took away as the main message that Jenkins wants us to heed -- that we are possibly on the cusp of seeing a repeat of the same historical mistakes Europe has consistently committed as it inevitably wound its way to its next disaster. The Short History is designed to show us that there has been a recurring cycle of east-west and north-south divides, with Britain trying to keep itself at least partially out of the fray, that lead to war, often senselessly. Right now, with Russia's aggressive response to NATO taking over the former Soviet Bloc states, Britain distancing itself from the continent via Brexit, and nationalism again on the rise, the mostly peaceful post-WWII, post-Cold War era may yet again devolve into conflict. That the U.S. is embroiled in its own political divisions and is (at least temporarily) shifting its European positions (or threatening to do so) is further cause for alarm. I recognize Jenkins's reasons for sounding such an alarm -- as an American I am alarmed at what is going on in the U.S. and as a Europhile I would hate to see my favorite continent eat itself up again. But that is the conclusion the book reaches in its final chapter. To that point, it is as promised a concise retelling of Europe's past from a geopolitical perspective, and despite being historical non-fiction, it makes for a page-turner of a story. Nevertheless, I give it four stars for being very good, but I can't go to five stars because I really did want more depth in place -- yes, that's probably more to do with me as a one-time history major, but another 50-75 pages to go into some greater detail would not have hurt.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ahmy Yulrizka

    The 300 pages tell 4 millennia stories of European upbringing. The stories from Greek mythology. A fair prince called Europa which becomes the name of the Continent. Started from 2500-300BC from the history of Phoenicia, the free thinker of ancient Greek, the forward thinker Pericles who saw relationship between civic and personal obligation, rise and fall of great empire such as Rome, the great kingdoms (Holy Roman Empire, Byzantium, etc), Revolutions (French and America), world wars, until the The 300 pages tell 4 millennia stories of European upbringing. The stories from Greek mythology. A fair prince called Europa which becomes the name of the Continent. Started from 2500-300BC from the history of Phoenicia, the free thinker of ancient Greek, the forward thinker Pericles who saw relationship between civic and personal obligation, rise and fall of great empire such as Rome, the great kingdoms (Holy Roman Empire, Byzantium, etc), Revolutions (French and America), world wars, until the recent development of European Union and Syrian crisis. The story was condensed inside this single book. I give you a small spoiler that you might already know. Probably more than 90% of it is about war. Whether it's territorial, in the name of their kings, family their race, their religions, their ideology, or their nation upbringing. If there is something that they are not lacking, it's war. It also a story about peace. A peace of Ausburg, Westphalia, Utrecht, Vienna, Versailles, League of nations and finally European union. There is always a hope that comes after the tiredness of wars. But just like a wheel of life, it changes one after the other. Every story is usually told in a couple of pages. If you are looking for a quick glance into the history of Europe, this might be a good book to read. Unfortunately, it's the drawback as well. Too many stories told in such sort time. A lot of characters and things happened and needed to be described concisely. Sometimes it's hard to follow who are the characters and which country is in the story. It feels to me like the writer sometimes assumes that the reader already possesses some history and geographically knowledge about Europe in general. Sometimes, I have to look it up on the internet to be able to follow the story. What I like about the book * It tries it best to tell the story in linear time. * I feel that it doesn't miss important details. * Moderate balance between conciseness and thorough. * 4 sections of colored pictures of painting and arts that depict the story that was told What I don't like about the book: * I wish there were more maps or pictures in the book. There are about 10 pages of maps each different in time. But sometimes it's easier to follow the development of the story if there is an immediate picture after the chapter. For example, the territory of the Holy Roman Empire when it splits. * 2/3 of the book was quite condense, and the last 1/3 (world war It- present time) is faster to follow. * I wish I bought a digital version so I can easily keep a footnote Overall I took some time for me to finish it. But in the end, I'm happy that I read it and learned a bit about this marvelous continent.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schoettinger

    Toward the end of World War I Europe was inundated by an influenza epidemic which eventually reached almost every corner of the world. Because of the war, the combatant countries heavily censored press reports of the fighting and anything else they thought relevant. This included the influenza epidemic. Spain was not involved in the war and made no effort to limit the reporting in its press of the epidemic. Therefore, the rest of the world learned of it through reports coming from Spain and the Toward the end of World War I Europe was inundated by an influenza epidemic which eventually reached almost every corner of the world. Because of the war, the combatant countries heavily censored press reports of the fighting and anything else they thought relevant. This included the influenza epidemic. Spain was not involved in the war and made no effort to limit the reporting in its press of the epidemic. Therefore, the rest of the world learned of it through reports coming from Spain and the disease became known as the Spanish flu. I had always wondered why Spain had been singled out as the source of the flu epidemic and Simon Jenkins provided the above answer in this book. Despite trying to cover 3,000 years of history in 300 pages, Jenkins manages to incorporate a number of such interesting, if minor, historical tidbits. Over the past few decades, the teaching of history in the US has often been criticized as a mere listing of the names and activities of a litany of DEMs (dead European males). Jenkins does not try to refute this characterization of history, he owns it. He writes a history of Europe so, by definition, the persons described are European and biology dictates that because of the 3,000 year scope, most are now deceased. Jenkins does incorporate women into his narrative, he appears to find as particularly interesting those such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Catherine d'Medici who have become the heroines of various power-behind-the-throne narratives. Jenkins makes no pretension to be an academic and he is not looking for new and different interpretations of history. He does provide a very readable and condensed version of European history.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jack Wolfe

    Me and my wife wanna take a trip to Europe, but we don't know anything about Europe, so we're both reading books about Europe. First up is this "Short History of Europe," which tells you the whole story... But also none of it? Jenkins' effort to reduce millennia of history to 300 pages (what's that, like, 100 years a page?) seems both worthwhile and impossible. How much do you have to leave out to make the story this short? How much do you have to leave in to make it at all comprehensible? What Me and my wife wanna take a trip to Europe, but we don't know anything about Europe, so we're both reading books about Europe. First up is this "Short History of Europe," which tells you the whole story... But also none of it? Jenkins' effort to reduce millennia of history to 300 pages (what's that, like, 100 years a page?) seems both worthwhile and impossible. How much do you have to leave out to make the story this short? How much do you have to leave in to make it at all comprehensible? What Jenkins leaves in is all the war. What he leaves out is all the rest. What he argues, both explictly (he lays out his method in the introduction) and implicitly, is that war is the defining characteristic of Europe. Each of his chapters talks about different wars, but they all kind of say the same thing: a couple of pigheaded men with imperial delusions put thousands of their countrymen to death over petty grievances. Then, a couple decades of peace. And then, more pigheaded men with imperial delusions, etc etc etc... The whole book becomes kind of like war soup after a while, with not even the big European personalities really standing out. "A Short History" is, thus, a thoroughly depressing book, complete with a lot of thoroughly depressing predictions about where the West is going. Perhaps I will quibble with Jenkins' editing once I learn more about European history. Until that point, uh, let's just say the glamor of Europe has been considerably tarnished. (Jenkins mentions the Beatles and the Stones in his second to last chapter and it's like, yes, finally: THROUGHLY GOOD PEOPLE WHO HAVE DEVOTED THEIR LIVES TO THE BETTERMENT OF HUMANITY.)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Burke

    Condensing 4,500 years of European history into 300 pages is the feat Simon Jenkins manages in this book, and manages well. No particular area is covered in much detail - World War II takes 11 pages for example - but Jenkins is open in his aim to provide breadth, not depth; to give a general broad grounding to act as a basis, if the reader wants, to delve into certain areas further. The second half of the book - covering from around 1750 to the present day - is more compact and works better than Condensing 4,500 years of European history into 300 pages is the feat Simon Jenkins manages in this book, and manages well. No particular area is covered in much detail - World War II takes 11 pages for example - but Jenkins is open in his aim to provide breadth, not depth; to give a general broad grounding to act as a basis, if the reader wants, to delve into certain areas further. The second half of the book - covering from around 1750 to the present day - is more compact and works better than the first, and allows Jenkins to show the American Declaration of Independence leading to the French Revolution leading to the absorbing of the Irish parliament by Great Britain to form the United Kingdom and to the rise of Napoleon. Well-known quotes from history - Chamberlain's "Peace for our time" and Churchill's "The end of the beginning" for example - are dropped in in their relevant places and neatly placed in context. At times, the text is a depressingly circular narrative of war, economic ruin, recovery, and war again; Frederick II views his subjects as "a troop of stags in the great lord's park, with no other function than to stock and restock the enclosure". Army sizes get continually bigger as the text and time advances, and when you come across the same battle being fought twice (such as the Battle of Poitiers in both 732 and 1356), there's a possibly unintentional dread sense of deja vu. It's mainly a political history rather than a social one - the latter is generally more interesting, I find, and indeed the first half of this book does descend into a secondary school history textbook list of battles and kings a little too often. But still, this is a very worthwhile read which delivers exactly what it sets out to.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex Salo

    Just could not stop reading this book! Fascinating! In school, I absolutely hated the history. Maybe it was the dry texts, or the teacher that was looking for only memorizing the material. In university, I loved it for it's cause and effect analysis. This book takes another approach: it simply enumerates the events that happened, with a bit of emotional background and wry comments, and mostly leaves the reader to make their own conclusions. Because it's so condensed for so many events, it reads l Just could not stop reading this book! Fascinating! In school, I absolutely hated the history. Maybe it was the dry texts, or the teacher that was looking for only memorizing the material. In university, I loved it for it's cause and effect analysis. This book takes another approach: it simply enumerates the events that happened, with a bit of emotional background and wry comments, and mostly leaves the reader to make their own conclusions. Because it's so condensed for so many events, it reads like a detective novel - you just can't stop craving for what happens next (even though you well know what will). This book is written by a journalist, so the style would be enjoyable by any audience. For me personally I found it very illustrative for the common threads of what was happening in Europe for the last 3 thousands of years. What history teaches us that we don't remember the history and bound to repeat the same mistakes. And so it is in the now 30s of the 21st century it seems like the memories of past horrors have died down and the new generation of summer children are taking ever larger fraction of voting base which I guess we will see where this would lead. Given the history, I'm not at all optimistic. All in all, fantastic book, obviously with some shortcomings stemming from trying to fit three thousands of years into three hundred pages, yet illuminating and surprisingly funny.

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