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When the legendary Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, Plovdiv -- today the second-largest city in Bulgaria -- was already thousands of years old. Indeed, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam are all are mere infants compared to Plovdiv. This is just one of the paradoxes that haunts and defines the New Europe, tha When the legendary Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, Plovdiv -- today the second-largest city in Bulgaria -- was already thousands of years old. Indeed, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam are all are mere infants compared to Plovdiv. This is just one of the paradoxes that haunts and defines the New Europe, that part of Europe that was freed from Soviet bondage in 1989 which is at once both much older than the modern Atlantic-facing power centers of Western Europe while also being in some ways much younger than them. Eastern Europe! is a brief and concise (but informative) introduction to Eastern Europe and its myriad customs and history. Even those knowledgeable about Western Europe often see Eastern Europe as terra incognita, with a sign on the border declaring "Here be monsters." This book is a gateway to understanding both what unites and separates Eastern Europeans from their Western brethren, and how this vital region has been shaped by, but has also left its mark on, Western Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Ideal for students, businesspeople, and those who simply want to know more about where Grandma or Grandpa came from, Eastern Europe! is a user-friendly guide to a region that is all too often mischaracterized as remote, insular, and superstitious. Illustrations throughout include: 40 photos, 40 maps and 40 figures (tables, charts, etc.)


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When the legendary Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, Plovdiv -- today the second-largest city in Bulgaria -- was already thousands of years old. Indeed, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam are all are mere infants compared to Plovdiv. This is just one of the paradoxes that haunts and defines the New Europe, tha When the legendary Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, Plovdiv -- today the second-largest city in Bulgaria -- was already thousands of years old. Indeed, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam are all are mere infants compared to Plovdiv. This is just one of the paradoxes that haunts and defines the New Europe, that part of Europe that was freed from Soviet bondage in 1989 which is at once both much older than the modern Atlantic-facing power centers of Western Europe while also being in some ways much younger than them. Eastern Europe! is a brief and concise (but informative) introduction to Eastern Europe and its myriad customs and history. Even those knowledgeable about Western Europe often see Eastern Europe as terra incognita, with a sign on the border declaring "Here be monsters." This book is a gateway to understanding both what unites and separates Eastern Europeans from their Western brethren, and how this vital region has been shaped by, but has also left its mark on, Western Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Ideal for students, businesspeople, and those who simply want to know more about where Grandma or Grandpa came from, Eastern Europe! is a user-friendly guide to a region that is all too often mischaracterized as remote, insular, and superstitious. Illustrations throughout include: 40 photos, 40 maps and 40 figures (tables, charts, etc.)

30 review for Eastern Europe!: Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eva Müller

    Eastern Europe is big. (Especially since the author points out that defining what exactly Eastern Europe is, is rather complicated and that he decided to use the term in the widest possible sense), The book covers the time from roughly 500 AD to the fall of the Soviet Union. This is also a lot of time. The book has 500 pages, which might seem a lot at first but often only leaves 2 or 3 pages (sometimes not even that) to describe what happened in a certain region in a certain time. There is just Eastern Europe is big. (Especially since the author points out that defining what exactly Eastern Europe is, is rather complicated and that he decided to use the term in the widest possible sense), The book covers the time from roughly 500 AD to the fall of the Soviet Union. This is also a lot of time. The book has 500 pages, which might seem a lot at first but often only leaves 2 or 3 pages (sometimes not even that) to describe what happened in a certain region in a certain time. There is just an awful lot of facts crammed into very little space. As a result, not a lot of the things I read about really stayed with me. If I already knew a bit about a certain topic the short chapters often helped me to remember it better (and perhaps learn and remember a bit more) but if something was completely new to me it usually got lost between everything. I think it would have helped if the book had focussed on a shorter time-frame and then spent a bit more time on the single chapters. Well and then there're the Useless Trivia sections. Throughout the book, there are short asides titled - duh - Useless Trivia - and a snappy, amusing heading like 'Reach out and touch someone...else...' or 'Things to name a Heavy Metal Band after'. According to the author, these are 'utterly useless historical, cultural, or other completely senseless facts about Eastern Europe'. He also says 'these little factoids can be fun'. He doesn't directly say that one can simply skip these bits but it's clear that the important bits are outside the 'Useless Trivia' sections. Now a lot of these bits are exactly that. For example, you learn why St. Nicholas day is celebrated on December 6th (because the historical Nicholas destroyed lots of temples dedicated to Diana whose sacred day was December 6th). Other bits are just very useless and not even in an amusing way. Like the Cold War has several UT-bits titled 'Which side are you on?' with short biographies of people who first supported the regime very strongly but later criticized it openly. I think that might have been more useful to talk about that topic in more general terms instead of picking out single cases. Other bits are just about famous people from the US with Eastern European roots which is possibly a YMMV-thing (and well the book is aimed at a US-audience) but I often really didn't see the point of including these things. Well, and then there are parts where I think Useless? Fun? WHAT? Among the events that got the 'summed up under a snappy and amusing headline' treatment are: - the siege of Leningrad - the assassination of Heydrich and the subsequent Nazi massacres of the Czech - stories of people who were shot while trying to cross the Berlin Wall Now I do have some problems with calling these 'fun little factoids'. OK, I have a lot of problems with that. (Also, the exact circumstances of the fall of the Berlin Wall are also in a 'Useless Trivia' section because...because?) There are also a lot of graphics in this book. One of them is a language family tree in such an abysmal quality that it's completely unreadable. It looks like a thumbnail that has been blown up to the size of a page...now it's only one but finding this in a published book is annoying. There are also a lot of maps, which are are great (and so helpful for geography-illiterates like me) and timelines, which are less great. Every chapter has two timelines at the beginning: one with the events happening in Eastern Europe and the other with world events. I would have gotten more out of this if that had simply been done with a table with two columns because then I could have seen much easier which two things had happened at roughly the same time. Overall the author has a style that is easy to read and I'll definitely keep this book and will also look into it again (and in the 20-page long bibliography to find other books) but it could be a lot better than it is. This review can also be found here on booklikes.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Hopkins

    I thought I was going to love the crap out of this, as a person who is obsessed with Eastern Europe and its history, and at first I really enjoyed how detailed this was with every region in every time period going back a few thousand years right up to 1992. But it ended up being something you really have to push through, because there are just SO many facts, and it's so hard to keep them all straight. The little stories and anecdotes here and there make it interesting and worth it, but really, m I thought I was going to love the crap out of this, as a person who is obsessed with Eastern Europe and its history, and at first I really enjoyed how detailed this was with every region in every time period going back a few thousand years right up to 1992. But it ended up being something you really have to push through, because there are just SO many facts, and it's so hard to keep them all straight. The little stories and anecdotes here and there make it interesting and worth it, but really, most of the chapters and sections of chapters are just lists of names, dates, battles, and tedious facts, which would be fine if this was a straight up history textbook, but given the tone throughout, I was expecting a little something more Tony Judt and it wasn't that at all. That's not a bad thing if it's what you want...it's probably the most complete history of Eastern Europe that exists. But if you're looking for something a little more entertaining and are hoping this is that, you'll enjoy about 70% of this and then find yourself skimming the rest. Side note, I had to renew this on my library app legitimately seven times to get through it, and read other books in between because I just couldn't sit with this straight through, which really bums me out because I wanted to devour this the way I did with "Postwar."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    NetGalley: Steerforth Press, New Europe Books Read review on my blog: http://bettie.booklikes.com/ NetGalley: Steerforth Press, New Europe Books Read review on my blog: http://bettie.booklikes.com/

  4. 5 out of 5

    shakespeareandspice

    *EDIT* Review based on reading: Oct 16–Oct 23, 2013 Fully completed (after my exams): Dec 10, 2013 A e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by any person, place, or event. P.S. I will probably keep coming back and reading this until I finish my semester taking Eastern Europe and the Balkans history course. Beautiful written and composed, this book has everything I was looking for. A month or two *EDIT* Review based on reading: Oct 16–Oct 23, 2013 Fully completed (after my exams): Dec 10, 2013 A e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by any person, place, or event. P.S. I will probably keep coming back and reading this until I finish my semester taking Eastern Europe and the Balkans history course. Beautiful written and composed, this book has everything I was looking for. A month or two ago, I was looking for books that compacted all of Eastern European into one book and would explain it well and thoroughly—this was the only book that showed up, but alas, as a pre-order item. I was disappointed because I really wanted to pick it up to help me with my East Central European history class and I did not wish to wait until the end of October. Having received the opportunity to dive into this book early (precisely at the time of my mid-terms too) made me appreciate this book even more, I believe. Not only are there not many Eastern European history books available—there is so much (purposely) hidden and covered in the ones labeled “European”-history. I have taken two “European” history courses, an AP course in high school and a late European History course in college—neither of these classes ever even came remotely close to explaining all the events that occurred in the majority of what is known as “East” of Europe. Because I am starting out as a history major, and thus am not a scholar or expert on East European history, I cannot judge any/all information completely right or wrong but what I can say for a large portion has been mentioned in my Eastern European class and I loved having read Jankowski’s account on it because I think it expands on some things more as well as teaches me about the topics that were not (and probably could not be) covered in a 4-month class. Also, I really enjoyed how Jankowski narrates the history—considering there is hundreds of centuries worth of history here, it can get depressing to take all this information all at once so I like that he took breaks and kept his tone light. Eastern Europe! is an excellent, brilliantly written book on everything Eastern European. I love how well it’s broken down and structured so I can just pick it up and read about a particular section without having to go through the entire chapter (or book) to find the one particular thing I want to learn about. This is similar to how my instructor had to really break things down for us to grasp all the information seeing as how there are not only variety of different countries, but ethnicities, languages, religions, etc. all fighting conflicts amongst each other for what land belongs to who. I would highly recommend this book to any person even remotely interested in any sort of history—there is so much to be explored and learned. For my own personal use, I’ve already pre-ordered the published edition of this book to keep for future use and re-read from time to time. I never got around to reading all of the little details and side anecdotes so I look forward to revisiting this book in the future and grasping it 100%. For now, it immensely helped me better understand what “East” European history is and of course, worked greatly as a supplement for my class. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - *Before* “The term ‘Eastern Europe’ only came into use in the late-18th century as an increasingly prosperous and powerful (and self-aware) Western Europe wanted to distinguish itself from the backwards, decaying medieval relics in the east.” “A common thread throughout all these changes has been that Eastern Europe—and who is Eastern Europe—has always been defined others.” I’m going to read this book—soon, very soon! And I’m going to LOVE it! Finally a book about East European history I’m excited about!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    This is an incredibly thorough book on everything related to Eastern Europe, from pronunciation to languages to religion to history. It's sometimes entertaining but is also just a ton of information, which may be more than some folks need. Note that it's designed for adults and not for kids, but it's suitable for teens who are studying the region. Also note that I am not from Eastern Europe and am not an expert on the region, so I just have to assume it's accurate. The author does seem to fit bo This is an incredibly thorough book on everything related to Eastern Europe, from pronunciation to languages to religion to history. It's sometimes entertaining but is also just a ton of information, which may be more than some folks need. Note that it's designed for adults and not for kids, but it's suitable for teens who are studying the region. Also note that I am not from Eastern Europe and am not an expert on the region, so I just have to assume it's accurate. The author does seem to fit both criteria, so I assume it's as accurate as anything can be (folks always quibble about the details). This would be a great book for anyone wanting to learn more about the region and its history.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Simon Hollway

    Quite simply one of the best history books I've stumbled across. I say stumbled, I actually mean searched relentlessly for as it is exquisitely difficult to find. I was after was a broad outline of Eastern European history over the past millennium, to include all the countries contained within that broad arc. A sort of travelogue/primer/Ladybird happy clappy guide to the mysteries of Eastern Europe before I embarked upon a long-imagined trip to this opaque part of the world. I would typically at Quite simply one of the best history books I've stumbled across. I say stumbled, I actually mean searched relentlessly for as it is exquisitely difficult to find. I was after was a broad outline of Eastern European history over the past millennium, to include all the countries contained within that broad arc. A sort of travelogue/primer/Ladybird happy clappy guide to the mysteries of Eastern Europe before I embarked upon a long-imagined trip to this opaque part of the world. I would typically attempt to synthesise some kind of regional psychodrama via a country's literature as part of my travel preparations, so I could arrive with a variety of stereotypes at my fingertips. Unfortunately, much Eastern European literature has been abandoned; seemingly and inexplicably unappetising to English publishers, leaving the French to unilaterally provide translations of some absolute gems. Anywayhow, Jankowski's rocket-fuelled romp through Eastern European history saved the day - it is neither scant nor dry but perfectly structured, comprehensive and frequently laugh out loud funny. Ladybird beginner's guide this isn't but it is the best entree into Eastern Europe (aside from annexing Poland) I have found...and it was certainly a quest. Deserves a far larger readership and much more publicity. In terms of style and quality, this is comparable to Scullard's 'From the Gracchi to Nero' - has that same lightness of touch but will still appeal to academics as well as browsers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    If you are looking for a survey of Central & Eastern European history, you could do a lot worse than Eastern Europe! I only got through World War I before I had to return it to the library, but I found it a strangely addictive read. It's an ambitious text, like a more entertaining version of an AP History study guide, and Jankowski manages to cover a lot of ground in a concise and readable fashion. This book doesn't really attempt to analyze big ideas in European history, could occasionally have If you are looking for a survey of Central & Eastern European history, you could do a lot worse than Eastern Europe! I only got through World War I before I had to return it to the library, but I found it a strangely addictive read. It's an ambitious text, like a more entertaining version of an AP History study guide, and Jankowski manages to cover a lot of ground in a concise and readable fashion. This book doesn't really attempt to analyze big ideas in European history, could occasionally have been better organized, and contains a brief but unfortunate section on European Muslims that comes off as condescending and xenophobic toward non-European Muslims (he also insists on calling Romani "Gypsies" through the text). The timelines could have been more detailed, but I had fun creating my own, because I am a nerd. Objections aside, this book has reshaped my understanding of European history and identity, and I am stoked to read more on the subject. I found the chapters about Slavic migrations and early medieval history particularly fascinating, and an excellent anecdote to our zombie 19th-century delusions about ethnic nationalism. (Medieval Eastern European kingdoms were ridiculously diverse!) Plus it ends with a pierogi recipe, because it's that kind of book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Ellen

    Although clearly written from the author's own worldview it is an extremely informative read and looks at many angles. I like how each section is specified by dates and broken down into vignettes about smaller areas/peoples/countries. There are also a number of side notes that bring interest and a a storytelling feel to the work. Like the story of how a zoo was used as fortification and the zookeepers refused to leave their charges and were even able to smuggle some free of the fighting. I found Although clearly written from the author's own worldview it is an extremely informative read and looks at many angles. I like how each section is specified by dates and broken down into vignettes about smaller areas/peoples/countries. There are also a number of side notes that bring interest and a a storytelling feel to the work. Like the story of how a zoo was used as fortification and the zookeepers refused to leave their charges and were even able to smuggle some free of the fighting. I found the book very comprehensive and informative as well as a much easier read than I was expecting. I also greatly appreciate the effort the author went to in adding notes on pronunciation for names and places. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in European history or visiting/moving to any country once part of the USSR.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Casper R

    Exactly what I hoped in terms of content, but better in telling what happened than explain the why and how. You'll have to paint the bigger picture yourself. Also, mediocre editing. I spotted multiple typos, graphs that were upside down and unnecessary complicated sentences. A second edition could definitely get 5 stars, but still a good read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    New Europe

    "A veritable intellectual feat, not only because the author seems to be at home in languages, history and literature as diverse as, say, Bulgarian and Hungarian, but because his book conveys what it means to be European and Eastern European at the same time. Jankowski's book is a guide through the millennium-long maze of wars, strange customs and habits, and seemingly impenetrable languages of a region that has been largely shaped by external powers but has also left its imprint on the world. . "A veritable intellectual feat, not only because the author seems to be at home in languages, history and literature as diverse as, say, Bulgarian and Hungarian, but because his book conveys what it means to be European and Eastern European at the same time. Jankowski's book is a guide through the millennium-long maze of wars, strange customs and habits, and seemingly impenetrable languages of a region that has been largely shaped by external powers but has also left its imprint on the world. . . . A must-read for all who want to learn about and understand this forgotten part of Europe. —from the Foreword by Laszlo Borhi, Indiana University, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Lots of information, it's true, but overall very unimpressive. He quotes from Wikipedia, he makes it so 'teen-friendly' it's almost insulting, and glosses over too many things that needed more explanation while bombarding you with Useless Trivia that becomes more and more obnoxious the further you read. Quick reference use at best.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liz Lem

    I have a long last name that no one can pronounce and went to Lithuania to check out where my grandmother Mary Tela was from. She's a woman I'm curious about because I never met her and I know little about her. And that's exactly why I bought and read the book, to figure out who I am - a least a little about my DNA. The book is really broad and emphasizes geopolitics and war and I didn't like how his voice felt like such a "dude." But, it delivered what I needed - a pretty good picture of why Ea I have a long last name that no one can pronounce and went to Lithuania to check out where my grandmother Mary Tela was from. She's a woman I'm curious about because I never met her and I know little about her. And that's exactly why I bought and read the book, to figure out who I am - a least a little about my DNA. The book is really broad and emphasizes geopolitics and war and I didn't like how his voice felt like such a "dude." But, it delivered what I needed - a pretty good picture of why Eastern Europe is important in history and the challenges it faced and still faces. It reminded me that most countries in the world are really brought together by ethnicity, language and culture and not by a common shared vision of the world. ("All men are created equal" is the vision I believe in that many Americans have.) When I was walking around Vilnius I imagined what the book described - a city that around 1900 was multi-cultural with 40% Yiddish, 30% Polish and the balance Lithuanian and other; I felt the blood of World War I & II and the mass genocide of the Jews and the wiping out of the Poles as Germany wanted to claim the land for Germans. And now a country that is at Putin's back-door and the majority of its citizens want to remain independent. And it feels precarious. I would like to know why people like my grandparents left and where they went. For example, I spoke to a genealogist who said that many Lithuanians left in the late 1800s and early 1900s for Edinburgh to work in the coal mines. There must be so many stories from this region that people want to know about. This would be a good follow up book for the author, since he points out in the beginning that one of the reasons a person is probably reading the book is because they have a name with a lot of consonants and aren't sure they're pronouncing it correctly.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    History, even American history, doesn't seem to be one of our strong suits. One recent assessment showed that 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and only 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency in U.S. history. And that's history that actually matters to us. As anything outside that is likely viewed as irrelevant, our grasp of European history must be appalling. Even then, our focus has been on Western Europe and, at best, Eastern Europe is little more History, even American history, doesn't seem to be one of our strong suits. One recent assessment showed that 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and only 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency in U.S. history. And that's history that actually matters to us. As anything outside that is likely viewed as irrelevant, our grasp of European history must be appalling. Even then, our focus has been on Western Europe and, at best, Eastern Europe is little more than an afterthought, if that. Yet the importance of Eastern European history is seen in Tomek Jankowski's Eastern Europe!: Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does . As he points out near the end of the book, after having documented the basis for his statements: Eastern Europe is a concept invented ... by the West, and it has always carried the connotation of a backward, underdeveloped, superstitious, and remote region isolated from the modern ideas and lifestyles of Western Europe. To be Eastern European implies that one is poor, undereducated, and provincial, and prone to occasional irrational fits of horrendous violence inspired by ethnic or religious fanaticism. Yet Jankowski makes a strong case that a great deal of what makes up Western Europe today, from people to technologies to languages, probably came through Eastern Europe first. That is mostly a matter of geography. Jankowski views Eastern Europe as not only always surrounded by competing civilizations -- Western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa -- but serving as a land connection between and among them. It was also a front line between Christianity and Islam, meaning it was a battleground on which "countless crusades and jihads were waged." (In fact, there are an estimated 35 million Muslims in Eastern Europe today.) After an "Introductory FAQ," the book consists of two sections. The first looks at the development of languages in the region, its geography and the spread of religions. The second, and by far the longest, traces the history of the region from roughly 500 CE through the fall of Communism and its effects. It also contains a lengthy reference section full of statistics about Eastern Europe, as well as 42 pages of endnotes and a 19-page bibliography. In addition to its dozens of maps and photographs, Eastern Europe! the book includes numerous sidebars titled "Useless Trivia." Although Jankowski suggests these contain "interesting but utterly useless historical, cultural or other completely senseless facts," he does himself a disservice. They often provide glimpses of events and people and their resonance into today. In tracing the history of Eastern Europe, the beginning of each chapter contains not only a timeline of events in Eastern Europe but also a separate timeline for Western Europe. This allows the reader to compare the various developments in each and the interplay between them. In fact, Western Europe's impact on Eastern Europe is also unmistakable. For example, the unification of regions and peoples into nations such as Italy and Germany gave rise to similar hopes in Eastern Europe. And although we think of World War II in terms of the U.S. and Western European countries, "every Eastern European country lost the war, regardless of which side they chose or what their leaders did. This war haunts Eastern Europe as no other historical event does." In broad strokes, the history of Eastern Europe is the story of the rise and fall of and wars among various clans, kingdoms and the occasional empire. It often to consist largely of seemingly never-ending warfare among various entities that continually affect the balance of power and boundaries. Granted, the same observation might also be made about Western Europe. Jankowski tends to try to trace this in terms of particular kingdoms, ethnicity or nations. His chapter subtitles frequently serve as pithy summaries of what follows. For example, "Albania as Accident," "Austria-Hungary as a Bug on the Windshield," or "Montenegro is Pushed Off the Cliff." Yet this separate lines also cause some problems. Because a particular event or war often affects several countries, it may be discussed in several subsections and readers may not grasp the entire picture. Despite covering such a large amount of information and territory, Eastern Europe! remains highly readable and user friendly. It is not merely a recitation of dates and events but a plain language look at the whos and whys of its history. In fact, the book would be an excellent introductory guide for anyone planning to visit an area of Eastern Europe. It allows the reader to trace the country's history and get a sense of its influences. That is important because, as Jankowski points out (and explains), the past remains alive in Eastern Europe. "For the average American, the American Revolution of 1775-83 was thousands of years ago," he writes, "but for the average Eastern European, the 1389 battle of Kosovo Polje or the 1410 battle of Grunwald haven't quite ended yet." The book reinforces how often even modern conflicts among various ethnic groups, whether in Slovenia, Croatia or Bosnia, can only be understood by knowing the history of the region. Jankowski shows us this as he traces the changes in and development of the country from clans to a feudal system to "nations" to Soviet domination and after. It is hard to imagine that a conversational, one volume work could not only introduce readers to Eastern European history but do a lot towards helping the reader understand it. In that respect, Eastern Europe! is both a success and an impressive achievement. (Originally posted at A Progressive on the Prairie.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    Despite the ominous-looking heft of this book, Jankowski manages to give the interested reader a great introduction to the history of Eastern Europe without going into undue length on any one topic. Jankowski covers everything from pre-historic settlements in the region to the Balkan wars in the 1990’s in a rapid yet engaging way. He highlights the legacies left by all the groups that came to stay or just passed through the area, from the Germanic and Slavic tribes to the Mongol and Ottoman empi Despite the ominous-looking heft of this book, Jankowski manages to give the interested reader a great introduction to the history of Eastern Europe without going into undue length on any one topic. Jankowski covers everything from pre-historic settlements in the region to the Balkan wars in the 1990’s in a rapid yet engaging way. He highlights the legacies left by all the groups that came to stay or just passed through the area, from the Germanic and Slavic tribes to the Mongol and Ottoman empires. He similarly highlights the different time periods in which national identities coalesced as well as the reasons behind them. Lastly, the final chapters dealing with WWII, the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union were just superb in helping the reader understand the challenges and opportunities, as well as the idiosyncrasies, of this complex region of the world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bren

    Although repetitive at times (the fault of history, not the author), I found this book extremely informative, very readable, as well as entertaining. It pretty much covers the history of the various kingdoms, countries, and people's since their emigration to Eastern/Central Europe. The author uses humor when warrented, and has inserts every few pages regarding topics related to the chapter at hand. Those inserts are often times the most useful bits of info, and usually the most entertaining. Sin Although repetitive at times (the fault of history, not the author), I found this book extremely informative, very readable, as well as entertaining. It pretty much covers the history of the various kingdoms, countries, and people's since their emigration to Eastern/Central Europe. The author uses humor when warrented, and has inserts every few pages regarding topics related to the chapter at hand. Those inserts are often times the most useful bits of info, and usually the most entertaining. Since it's presented in both chronological and geographic order, you could easily skip the era's or countries you wish to learn about.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Was interested in the subject matter but the way it was written made it very boring to read. I only managed to just get past the start of chapter 2. As others have mentioned it's more like a history book you would read in school with a list of dates, parties involved and what they did. It's quite dry reading. Was hoping for more of a general discussion on interesting was Eastern Europe had shaped the world - this is covered a little bit in the trivia sections of the book which break up the histo Was interested in the subject matter but the way it was written made it very boring to read. I only managed to just get past the start of chapter 2. As others have mentioned it's more like a history book you would read in school with a list of dates, parties involved and what they did. It's quite dry reading. Was hoping for more of a general discussion on interesting was Eastern Europe had shaped the world - this is covered a little bit in the trivia sections of the book which break up the historical bits. Lauren Hopkins' review from 26 June 2018 sums it up best.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Thomas

    Excellent and comprehensive The title says it all...everything you need to know! A concise look at countries we in the west had an opportunity to understand presented in a delightful and enjoyable way...definitely NOT your average history book! Recommended for anyone who seeks historical understanding of a region overlooked and misunderstood.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    After I finished this book, I definitely felt like I had learned more about the history and culture of Eastern Europe than when I had started reading. While the size of the book and the depth of material covered reminds me of a college-level textbook, the author made the material accessible enough to read through in multiple sittings, so one could go through it at a more relaxed pace.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Cummins

    So thorough, well-researched, and intelligent, with plenty of humor mixed in. One of the best history books I’ve read! Thank you for making such a complex topic interesting (and even enjoyable) to read. Wonderfully done.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joe Powell

    As advertised. Everything I wanted to know and more. Loose writing style is easy for me to read. Some of the maps and charts were hard to read or see. Overall, the perfect book if you want to know what the deal is with Eastern Europe

  21. 4 out of 5

    Filip

    Emphasis on geopolitics and war. Nice overview though. My prior knowledge was mostly about Poland. Learned a ton about countries I didn't know that much about earlier.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    Tries to cover too much. I found it helpful at first with the broad perspective, but then not so much.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    Sprawling.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peter Podbielski

    The Trivia anecdotes are worth reading in and of themselves. The entire book is a delightful read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Jankowski makes a tangle of lengthy, complicated histories digestible. Well written and well organised.

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Alexander

    What a complete view of the history of Eastern Europe - a subject that seems completely ignored by my normal education and reading. Eastern European history has such a broad set of events that I never knew, it is a bit embarrassing. I found the pre-19th century portions most illuminating and fascinating to read. Things get so complicated with all the nations/countries coming and going after 1800 it was hard to follow, but I'm glad I persevered and made it all the way through!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

    for a culture's course --

  28. 4 out of 5

    Psaporito

    Read in preparation for a Danube river cruise. Very readable.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Mostly just a chronology of battles, rulers, and side trivia, with very little exploration of the social, political, and economic systems that shaped people’s lives in different places and times.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mustin

    It’s been my experience that books filled with history - and I think this applies doubly to the density of European history - can boggle and bore. Not so with Jankowski’s book. It’s indeed filled with close to two millennia of history, both western and eastern European (it is hard to separate the two) but the author uses an inventive writing structure and style that kept this reader turning pages. Too, it’s filled with charts, graphs, photos, and other visual apparatuses that not only break up t It’s been my experience that books filled with history - and I think this applies doubly to the density of European history - can boggle and bore. Not so with Jankowski’s book. It’s indeed filled with close to two millennia of history, both western and eastern European (it is hard to separate the two) but the author uses an inventive writing structure and style that kept this reader turning pages. Too, it’s filled with charts, graphs, photos, and other visual apparatuses that not only break up the text, but serve to further inform the reader. Heck, he even provides a recipe for pierogi in the book’s epilogue. The author begins with a bit of European prehistory, traces the migrations of Europe’s early people, and then embarks on the evolution of European culture in general. His project here is largely the effect of western European development on that of the east, how the west, the Asian and Muslim cultures lent a richness to that of Eastern Europe, but at the same time caused eastern Europeans a multitude of problems. This began to be manifested in the development of nation states, and of course, most of these cultures were eventually absorbed into the U.S.S.R. via the Warsaw Pact, only now struggling for parity with western European nations. But what’s clear here as well is that these pre- and post-WWII nation states have never fully resolved the diverse tribal and cultural differences within their borders. To add to this rich text, Jankowski has added what he, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, calls “Useless Trivia.” These are largely anecdotal passages that often made this reader smile and even laugh at times. Some of these are not so delightful; after all, European history has its share of pathos and depravity. But the effect of these asides is to reach deeper into the details of such a broad-brush history. Thus Jankowski’s writing structure shines and vibrates with both overview and the deeply personal. But of what use is this book? Certainly it would make a fine college text, or at least adjunct college reading matter. And if you’re going to do business in either the west or east of Europe, this book will afford you a basis for understanding the people, the cultures, even the languages (the author does yeoman’s duty in providing pronunciations of many names of people and places, names that might otherwise twist the English-speaking tongue) of this culturally rich area of planet earth.

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