Europe: A History
This is a reissue of a book originally published in 1996, with a second preface added in 1997. Disappointingly, given everything that has happened in Europe and the wider world since the book was written, no new preface has been added to this re-print.
That said, it is pretty much my only criticism of a book which is a remarkable achievement. The main body of the text is interspersed with a great many what Davies terms ‘capsules’, short essays on anything from Mozart’s European travels to the governance of the Faroes. These occur where they seem relevant, but are then cross-referenced throughout in a way which helps reinforce the reader’s sense of a coherence of European history. For, while Davies’ book is a great repository of fact, and can be used as a work of reference, it does have a strong narrative theme, and that is the story of Europe as a whole – political, geographic, economic. This is not a history of city states or nations, or even odd enclaves like Monaco or the Isle of Man, but a history of Europe in all its rich and tendentious entirety. A shame, therefore, that it has been reissued without any reference to the Balkan wars of the late 1990s or the way the world has changed since 9/11.