Nationalism, Culture, Germany; Continent: Europe

Author Stephen Winder’s personal, meandering discussion of topics in pre-WWII history will make you laugh and think, often in the same chapter 480 pages (Bibliography begins page 379) I confess, I read Winder’s 2015 book, Danubia, before I got back to read Germania, his 2011 offering. Germania is the slightly shorter book (Danubia is a […]

Marketing, Business; Continent: Europe

Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead Same period as “Downton Abbey,” more name-dropping 336 pages (91% content before Acknowledgments, etc. begin) PBS’s “Mr. Selfridge” (a “Masterpiece” production) loosely bases its story on the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge. Selfridge was the American retailer whose London department store turned traditional shopping on its ear […]

Ireland, Disaster; Continent: Europe, North America

The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People by John Kelly Graphic and complicated, this worthy story isn’t for the faint of heart 397 pages (338 pages of content, counting the afterword) For American history textbook purposes, the 1840s Irish potato blight and its consequences can be neatly summarized: […]

Conquest and Empire; Continents: Europe, Asia, Africa

Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire by James Romm Why do we not hear much about the ancient Macedonians after Alexander the Great? Who were these people, anyway? The answer is more interesting than you might think.  369 pages (278 pages of content, with […]

Women, Medieval; Continent: Europe

Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe by Nancy Goldstone Strictly chattel? This author says at least some royal women played an active role in governing 403 pages (350 pages excluding the family trees and other appendices) Just a few decades into the thirteenth century, the count and countess of Provence had a family […]

Society, Individualism; Continent: Europe, North America

Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto Not a travel guide, but not packing this book for your trip to this exceptional city would be a mistake 357 pages (318 pages excluding Notes and Index but including the short and worthy Postscript) This book is definitely a love letter to […]

Holy Roman Empire, Hapsburgs; Continent: Europe

Danubia: A Personal History of Hapsburg Europe by Simon Winder This book about dead emperors and their squabbling over territory is more fun than it has a right to be. 512 pages including the Conclusion: plenty more detailed notes and bibliography after that. I’ve waded back into European history with this book, but this time, […]