Jan. 16th, 2008

Book rec!

Jan. 16th, 2008 06:41 pm
baleanoptera: (LOTR Gandalf reading)
Perhaps it is a bit early to start calling something "one of the best books I’ve read this year", but I’m going to take a chance and do it anyway. For Christmas I got the wonderful In Europe – travels through the Twentieth Century by Geert Mak, and it is nothing short of a page turner. An 832 page thick pageturner that is.

Mak, a Dutch journalist, spent years travelling through Europe pondering the question of what is Europe and does Europe have a common history. Or as he says himself:
Do we Europeans have a common history? )
There are several things I love about this book. The writing is combination of essays, travel logs and historical musings. One of Mak’s strengths is his combination of oral history and on the spot interviews with well known historical facts. It all comes together and makes for gripping reading, and makes even the most famous years – say like 1939-1945 – appear new and riveting.

One of the things I loved most about the book was how it is organised by geographical location rather than timeline. So the chapter 1917-24 is divided into the sections of Doorn, Stockholm, Helsinki, Petrograd and Riga. And while Mak always keeps the long lines of history in sight he chooses to view history from these, and other, select locations. That makes for a very personal and extremely interesting way of reading history, and shows how different parts of the continent

Another favourite part of mine is Mak’s pondering on where Europe actually end and what is this European Identity anyway. the true hallmark of European civilisation it is diversity )

Book rec!

Jan. 16th, 2008 06:41 pm
baleanoptera: (LOTR Gandalf reading)
Perhaps it is a bit early to start calling something "one of the best books I’ve read this year", but I’m going to take a chance and do it anyway. For Christmas I got the wonderful In Europe – travels through the Twentieth Century by Geert Mak, and it is nothing short of a page turner. An 832 page thick pageturner that is.

Mak, a Dutch journalist, spent years travelling through Europe pondering the question of what is Europe and does Europe have a common history. Or as he says himself:
Do we Europeans have a common history? )
There are several things I love about this book. The writing is combination of essays, travel logs and historical musings. One of Mak’s strengths is his combination of oral history and on the spot interviews with well known historical facts. It all comes together and makes for gripping reading, and makes even the most famous years – say like 1939-1945 – appear new and riveting.

One of the things I loved most about the book was how it is organised by geographical location rather than timeline. So the chapter 1917-24 is divided into the sections of Doorn, Stockholm, Helsinki, Petrograd and Riga. And while Mak always keeps the long lines of history in sight he chooses to view history from these, and other, select locations. That makes for a very personal and extremely interesting way of reading history, and shows how different parts of the continent

Another favourite part of mine is Mak’s pondering on where Europe actually end and what is this European Identity anyway. the true hallmark of European civilisation it is diversity )

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