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Vanished Kingdoms: The History of…

Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Norman Davies

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6631614,475 (3.9)23
Title:Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
Authors:Norman Davies
Info:Penguin (2012), Paperback, 848 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading

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Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe by Norman Davies (2011)


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English (14)  Polish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
If anybody wonders why this book is spending so long in the limbo of "currently reading", it is because I read the introduction and first chapter and then some reviews on Good Reads and decided that an apparent indigesibility would be best served by reading it a chapter / country at a time between reading other books. So it will be some time before I rate / review. ( )
  johnwbeha | Nov 18, 2015 |
I think you shouldn't attempt to read this book in one go. Like most Norman Davies books, this is physically too heavy and your arms will get tired! Also some chapters are too long and some too short. Some chapters will be more interesting depending on where you come from and what period of history you already know about. I found the early
chapter on British history (Alt Clud) fascinating as I had never read anything about it before.

Each chapter is divided into three parts: the kingdom as it is today, which often owes a lot to googling, and so can be rather tongue in cheek or flippant. The history itself is the second part and is solid and always interesting. The third is what is left of the kingdom now. Since the kingdoms are, by definition, vanished and (often) far distant in time, this tends to be sad or nostalgic, though sometimes there is not much to say.

Some chapters are not quite what they seem: the fall of the Soviet Union is actually about the liberation of Estonia, which was a bit of a surprise. Some chapters extend the usual histories eg Prussia. The chapter on Byzantium is one of the shortest, which seems odd as Davies himself writes that most histories of Istanbul itself only deal with Ottoman history. For me the history of Galicia was the most interesting.

I haven't quite finished the book, as my arms ached, but I guess I will try again soon.

( )
  varske | Oct 25, 2015 |
An excellent history devoted to the places that lie between the places that other histories cover. Besides the wealth of detail and the opening up of unknown worlds, the books explores how countries disappear. What goes away and what remains. I wouldn't try it without a good grounding in European history, but if you have that, you'll find it fascinating. ( )
  le.vert.galant | Jan 26, 2015 |
A masterly tome, "Vanished Kingdoms" only misses a five star rating due to its promise to deliver so much that one feels that it couldn't possibly deliver.

One of the review quotes listed on the back cover of “Vanished Kingdoms” is from the “San Francisco Chronicle” and reads ‘The amount of information in ‘Vanished Kingdoms’ that will be new to all but the most expert students of European history is staggering.’ In fact, this is almost a liability as I was constantly referring to our friend ‘Wikipedia’ to understand who, for example, Wilfred the Hairy, was when he was at home, and what is this “Sicilian Vespers” of which Davies refers to?

I also found the choice of subjects to be somewhat arbitrary, as well as the extent each is covered. These quibbles aside though, I can only hope Davies is planning a sequel to bring to life more vanished kingdoms. ( )
1 vote MiaCulpa | Aug 5, 2014 |
This is a wonderful book! Davies surveys the histories of a number of european states that died, including Aragon, Burgundy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and "the Kingdom of the Rock," a kingdom that existed in the early Medieval period in what is now southwest Scotland. Never have I found a book containing so much obscure history that is so strongly related to the history that I have studied through most of my life. He also discusses the theory of the death of states, which is interesting in itself. ( )
1 vote baobab | Aug 1, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Norman Daviesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pagano, FrancescoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Payette, MaggieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I'r anghofiedig
Dla tych, o których historycy przeważnie zapominają
I'r anghofiedig

For those whom historians tend to forget
First words
(from Introduction)

All my life, I have been intrigued by the gap between appearances and reality. Things are never quite what they seem. I was born a subject of the British Empire, abd as a child, read in my Children's Encyclopaedia that 'our empire' was one 'on which the sun never set'.
All the nations that have ever lived have left their footsteps in the sand. The traces fade with every tide, the echoes grow faint, the images are fractured, the human material is atomized and recycled. But if we know where to look, there is always a remnant, a remainder, an irreducible residue. (p.393)
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Book description
Tolosa : soujourn of the Visigoths (AD 418-507) --
Alt Clud : Kingdom of the Rock (fifth to twelfth centuries) --
Burgundia : five, six, or seven kingdoms (c. 411-1795) --
Aragon : a Mediterranean empire (1137-1714) --
Litva : a grand duchy with kings (1253-1795) --
Byzantion : the star-lit golden bough (330-1453) --
Borussia : watery land of the Prusai (1230-1945) --
Sabaudia : The house that Humbert built (1033-1946) --
Galicia : kingdom of the naked and starving (1773-1918) --
Etruria : French snake in the Tuscan grass (1801-14) --
Rosenau : the loved and unwonted legacy (1826-1918) --
Tsernagora : Kingdom of the Black Mountain (1910-1918) --
Rusyn : the republic of one day (15 March 1939) --
Éire : The unconscionable tempo of the Crown's retreat (1916-2011) --
CCCP : the ultimate vanishing act (1924-1991) --
How states die.
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How many British people know that Glasgow was founded by the Welsh in a period when neither England nor Scotland existed? How many of us will remember the former Soviet Union in a few generations' time? This book answers these questions and includes stories, observations and connections that give us a fresh perspective on the history of Europe.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1846143381, 0141048867

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