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Europe in the Contemporary World, 1900 to…
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Europe in the Contemporary World, 1900 to the Present: A Narrative History… (2007)

by Bonnie G. Smith

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History, for the most part, bores me to tears. So why on earth did I read a history book cover to cover?

Well, I'm just weird like that. Books are an obligation to me. If I receive one, I have to read it to the bitter end.

Did I learn a valuable lesson about the importance of history? Not really. Yeah, I'm one of those people who strongly believes that if we don't learn from the past we're condemned to repeat it. But the thing that turns me off most about history (other than the fact that when I w as learning it, it was all about name, date, place regurgitation) is that no matter how much you've learned from it, the joker running things might not have learned anything from the past, and while he/she is making steps towards a sequel to one of the world's most devastating mistakes, all you can do is look on and grumble.

Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

This book takes you on a tour through the 20th century in Europe. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Each chapter gives an overview of the important events of the era in question, as well it provides documents from and about that era, written by people who experienced it firsthand. Further there is a photo essay at the end of each chapter as well as some chapter notes pointing the interested reader to other sources of information, if they would be so inclined.

The book's layout is marvelous, taking full advantage of using only black and blue ink. Pictures and maps are anchored at the top or bottom of their respective pages, so they do not interrupt your flow of reading when you get to them.

My biggest complaint is the fact that I could only read about four pages at a time without needing to switch to something else, or take a few deep breaths with my eyes closed, or something else that wasn't reading. I know that that's more me than the book, but that's just how it was.

My biggest legitimate complaint however were the in-text questions. "Historical information here. What do you think blah blah blah was thinking when he did this?" To be honest, when I read text books, I expect the questions to be at the back of the chapter with all the other questions. I would rather, to be perfectly honest, if you told me what respected authorities in the fields had to say with respect to answering that question, as most of the questions were outside of my expertise (there were none on important WWII European places like Bletchley Park, about which I might have had a decent chance of fielding questions).

Nevertheless, if you're unlike me, and do so appreciate a book or two on history, this one may be up your alley. It's also nice to look at, what with the beautiful layout. ( )
  aethercowboy | Apr 3, 2009 |
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