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January 21, 2013


Igor Belanov

It's like your first essay as a fresher: "Davies, it's full of information and narrative, but where's the analysis?"

I agree that 'Microcosm' should have been a really good book, but the random facts and repeated moralising just marred the whole thing.

Richard J

Now this, Comrade Kenny, is a fairly transparent attempt at distraction from one of the few sources prepared to admit the truth about your ancestor's treason, isn't it? Proper Sov-era black propaganda.

Richard J

But yes; like so many things, the idea of his books is far better than the execution. I have the original hardback of Europe: A History. Somewhere else, I forget where, I have seen the errata list for that edition. Which means I can't rely at all on the miscellany of information which forms, what, 1/6th of it for no good reason.

His book on WW2 was a bit crap and all, compared to Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands, which made the same basic point but in a much more astute and restrained way.


The curmudgeonry was amazing: swiping at Isaac Asimov, stopping mid-flight to quibble with a single line of Iron Kingdom, berating Orhan Pamuk for excluding the Glorious Byzantine Past from his books set in... modern Turkey.

Though I did learn that Ben Bella was ousted from Tunisia in 2010, so that's something.

sf reader

To all and sundry - any recommendations for histories of the Hanseatic league? Thanks in advance.


Harsh. I'm a Norm man myself.

Vanished Kingdoms I thought good stuff, maybe a bit light for the seasoned pro, but pitched pretty well for the rest of us.

I'll give you that the pro-Polish anti-Russian stuff has gone a bit far, but I think he has rather a lot of Polish Academy medals to live up to...

chris y

I'm inclined to agree with Jamie. I made the same mistake, and the bits I knew anything about struck me as slightly dodgy on the old accuracy, which made me wonder about the rest of it. I thought it was slightly better than The Isles, but that's probably because I know less about the subject matter and so spend less time screaming, "No! That's rubbish you fool!" at my kindle.

des von bladet

sf reader: How's your German? If you're looking for something in English and in print, AFAIK you're out of luck.


Yeah: only things I can think of in English deal with the Hansa as a secondary issue in the Northern Crusades or 30 year swar.


I quite liked dipping in and out of his Europe book. But Richard hits on exactly the right word - it's Schott's Miscellany.

Not sure I agree with "restrained" about Bloodlands, though. Attritional, more like.

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