Book Recommendation: Vanished Kingdoms, Norman Davies (2012)


For today’s post, I am trying something a little different: a book recommendation. This is something I am thinking of doing every once and a while, in between shows, etc. or when I have less time to make a post. These posts will involve recommendations from among the various history books I have read. Today’s book is Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies. This is one of my all-time favorite books, and almost certainly the best non-fiction book I have ever read. It is often beautiful and sad at the same time, particularly the end of each section, relating the fall (or absorption) of its subject; the sweep of history is accurately and movingly conveyed as the demise of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, or the fading memory of Prussia, are related. The book goes into some detail on, as the cover states, “the history of half-forgotten Europe”, discussing long-dead nations such as the Kingdom of Aragon or the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine (which only lasted for a single day, one of the most fascinating things I learned while reading the book).

This book is, frankly, a remarkable read. It manages to condense many disparate subjects and hundreds of years of European history into one volume, and does an excellent job with each subject it touches upon. I had only heard of perhaps half of the nations in the book (and my knowledge of many, I confess, only came from playing the Paradox Interactive games Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV), and other chapters, such as the chapter on the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, changed my perspective of European history entirely. (Believe it or not, prior to reading this chapter I had no notion of the German connections of the British royal family, other than a vague memory that Queen Victoria had been related to Wilhelm II.)

The book is approximately 740 pages long, so don’t pick it up unless you legitimately enjoy reading about history; however, as far as I am concerned, this book is a worthwhile read for historical novices and veterans alike, for the brilliance of its prose alone, to say nothing of the knowledge it confers.

I hope you all enjoyed this book recommendation; let me know if you would like to see other posts in this vein in the future. I will post something new fairly soon, probably something I haven’t touched on before, so keep your eyes on our Twitter and Tumblr feeds. Thanks everyone, and see you next time.


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