Reviews of Books

What lies beneath

Tuesday 06 November 2012 National Review, Andrew Stuttaford
Vanished Kingdoms

The forgotten and the neglected attract Davies, a passionate writer drawn to history’s underdogs (thanks to this book, I am now something of a Montenegrin nationalist): “Historians usually focus…on the past of countries that still exist… They are seeking the roots of the present, thereby putting themselves in danger of reading history backwards…In [the] jungle of information about the past, [today’s] big beasts invariably win out.” Attention is sucked away from smaller states, let alone those that no longer exist. We learn more about that of which we are already aware, and “the blank spaces in our minds are reinforced."

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