Reviews of Books

How Eastern Europe swapped one oppressor for another

Wednesday 29 November 2006 The Telegraph, Noel Malcolm
Europe at War 1939-1945

Exactly 10 years ago, the British historian Norman Davies published his blockbuster history of Europe, from the Ice Ages to the present. He was already very well-known among historians, as the leading expert on Polish history in the English-speaking world; but that book made him famous. Professional historians may have tut-tutted over the many small errors of fact which it contained; the general public, however, admired his energy, his breadth of vision, and his talent for asking important but unfamiliar questions about familiar things. (...)

This is a self-consciously contrary book, cutting against the grain of much self-congratulatory Western writing since 1945. It is also untypical in form, since the military and political story of the war is told only in the first two sections, while later ones deal in a variety of ways with the experiences of soldiers and civilians in the main war-waging states. 

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