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Vanished Kingdoms The History Of Half-Forgotten Europe


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Vanished Kingdoms: the History of Half-Forgotten Europe by Norman Davies
Ben Wilson
28 Oct 2011

All the nations that have ever lived have left their footsteps in the sand,” writes Norman Davies. “The traces fade with every tide, the echoes grow faint, the images are fractured, the human material is atomised and recycled. But if we know where to look, there is always a remnant, a remainder, an irreducible residue.” In this brilliant, beautifully written book, Davies recovers those scattered vestiges of dead kingdoms, tracing the skeins that link modern political realities with ancient history. Vanished Kingdoms is a book about memory and loss, a journey down some of the least fashionable byways of European history.

The process of recovery involves actual journeys as well. At the beginning of each case study, Davies describes briefly, but with the keen eye of a travel writer, a physical location, a memory site of one of his vanished realms. At the end of the historical narrative, he returns to the present – not to the same place but to somewhere that preserves the spirit of the shadowy past.

(Snip)

We should care about these vanished kingdoms because, as Davies writes, the echoes of the past break out in strange ways. They also remind us that what we believe to be permanent is in constant flux.

This study is a challenging perspective on Europe’s past, but also an original way of writing history. In his chapter on Eire, Davies reminds us that the disintegration of the United Kingdom began in the last century. “That the United Kingdom will collapse is a foregone conclusion. Sooner or later, all states do collapse… Only the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ are mysteries for the future.”



Vanished Kingdoms The History Of Half-Forgotten Europe




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"Sooner or later, all states do collapse… Only the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ are mysteries for the future.”

 

Can we get another 100 years?

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