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Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies.. The rise and fall of states and nations is a pretty fascinating subject, and here we have a real polyglot of misbegotten empire. Hard to say whether this is history or adventure.

Joel Gardner, LitSnap Editor

"Here, Davies chronicles the lives of European states that once existed as surely as Germany and France do now. "Historians usually focus their attention on the past of countries that still exist," he writes in the introduction. "Dead kingdoms have almost no advocates at all." Davies seeks to rectify this reality. He resurrects the lands and peoples that were lost in the brutal tide of history. Especially in premodern times (the Soviet Union does not lack for archives, after all), these defeated states and nations were at risk of simply being forgotten completely."

The San Francisco Chronicle

"With its comic-opera uniforms, fairy tale castles and out-of-tune military band, “Ruritania” – the fictional setting of many a novel and film – has tended to define most Britons’ view of the vanished kingdoms of continental Europe. Of course, odd Habsburgs are also distantly recalled. Perhaps even Voltaire’s old quip about the Holy Roman Empire being “neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire”. But how the borders of the current European states relate to their forerunners – and to the complex mixes of nationalities, languages and religions that they once encompassed – is something that leaves most of us baffled."

The Telegraph

Author bio: Norman Davies is a supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Historical Society, and Professor Emeritus at London University. His books include Europe: A History (a New York Times Notable Book), The Isles: A History, and the definitive history of Poland, God’s Playground. More information can be found here:

Book Details: History; (804 pp Kindle/Print editions)

Publisher Website:,,9780670022731,00.html?Vanished_Kingdoms_Norman_Davies

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