Author(s): Brendan Simms
This is Brendan Simms' formidable, game-changing history of Europe. In this marvelously ambitious and exciting book, Brendan Simms tells the story of Europe's constantly shifting geopolitics and the peculiar circumstances that have made it both so impossible to dominate, but also so dynamic and ferocious. It is the story of a group of highly competitive and mutually suspicious dynasties, but also of a continent uniquely prone to interference from 'semi-detached' elements, such as Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Britain and (just as centrally to Simms's argument) the United States.
Brendan Simms is a historian of unusual range and ability ... this book is driven by two great master-ideas, and there is hardly a page in it where their presence is not felt ... the reader always has the exhilarating sense of moving swiftly onwards, in a kind of turbocharged Rolls-Royce of historical argumentation ... truly powerful and original -- Noel Malcolm Telegraph Ought to sit on the desk of every politician, pundit and policy wonk ... [Simms] marshals the great events ... with a breath-stopping assurance. Panoramic, multi-faceted ... sweeping, well-paced narrative ... awesome command. This is top-down European history, diplomatic and political, seen from the soaring eagle's eye. But what an eagle; and what an eye -- Boyd Tonkin Independent Europe is a superb, sure-footed analysis of how this center of world civilization, technology, and warfare evolved since the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It is unabashedly political history, and the better for being so. Simms's acumen and sharp opinions are a joy to read. This book will be appreciated both by the general reader, and by history teachers everywhere -- Paul Kennedy Brendan Simms's new history [is] especially timely. He has, in effect, dropped a big stone into the European pond and stood back to watch the ripples spread ... Compelling and provocative ... This is sweeping history, told with verve and panache, and it is all the more refreshing for that Economist This is a brilliant and beautifully written history. From the Holy Roman Empire to the Euro, Brendan Simms shows that one of the constant preoccupations of Europeans has always been the geography, the power and the needs of Germany. Europe is a work of extraordinary scholarship delivered with the lightest of touches. It will be essential, absorbing reading for anyone trying to understand both the past and the present of one of the most productive and most dangerous continents on earth -- William Shawcross A stimulating, impressive history that starts with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and extends to the present day ... perspicacious and flexible ... an excellent read and its insights into the grand themes of European history are penetrating and lucidly argued -- Tony Barber Financial Times Unrepentantly old-fashioned, lively and erudite ... The book is centrally concerned, rightly, with Germany, which Simms knows at first hand. Its great strength is that you are always reminded that European countries did not grow autonomously ... Europe is very ambitious in scope ... The references are prodigious, multilingual and extremely useful ... Simms knows what he is talking about -- Norman Stone New Statesman How do you write a history of Europe ... without making it seem like a list of dates? The answer of Brendan Simms in his new book is both simple and brilliantly successful: take a strong thesis and argue it through from start to finish ... Simms has the breadth of knowledge and clarity of vision to make his case compelling. His book is also immensely entertaining as well as instructive. There are few pages not enlivened by sharp insight, telling vignette or memorable turn of phrase. In short, this is a great book and everyone interested in European history will want to read it -- Tim Blanning BBC History Magazine There is nothing in the recent literature to match it ... Not only has Simms bitten off a huge chunk of history, he has mastered it with style and an awe-inspiring command of the literature ... [a] Herculean feat of synthesis -- Josef Joffe Prospect Exciting ... In [Simms's] survey of European power politics through six centuries and more, he dissects the economic, social, administrative and religious aspects of the "domestic" life of the states involved ... Simms's eye for the telling detail is shown ... [his] majestic prose flows impressively ... lucid and perceptive Times Higher Education [An] encyclopaedic, ambitious and fluent history of Europe ... [like] a great game of chess, except that as well as black and white pieces there are green, blue, orange and purple ones all moving around a multidimensional board. Place names swirl, battles are won and lost, and the pieces are reordered ... Inevitably readers will be drawn to Simms's fascinating picture of the origins of the European Union ... thoughtful and stimulating -- David Abulafia Standpoint A tour de force ... With phenomenal surefootedness, [Simms] picks out the patterns in what might otherwise appear a trackless waste of victories, defeats, treaties and coalitions, extracting from them provocative lessons for Europe's present and future. Big ideas animate the book ... This fascinating book deserves a wide readership. Even those who do not share Simms's fears and hopes for the European Union will be enthralled by the brilliance of his analysis and the dizzying breadth of his vision -- Christopher Clark Mail on Sunday Prodigious ... in its pages whole empires rise and fall ... Europe draws the reader forward with its grand epic of shifting alliances, clashing armies and ambitious statecraft. Mr. Simms ... is a skilled writer with a rare gift for compressed analysis. His focus on the military and diplomatic arc of European history lends his book a strong narrative line and thematic coherence -- Jeffrey Collins Wall Street Journal European history comes in many guises, but Brendan Simms's strategic and geopolitical approach provides a strong and lucid framework within which everything else fits into place. His emphasis on the centrality of Germany offsets more western-orientated accounts while also giving due prominence to Eastern Europe. Covering the whole of the modern period, this book is more than an excellent introduction; it's a major interpretational achievement -- Norman Davies World history is German history, and German history is world history. This is the powerful case made by this gifted historian of Europe, whose expansive erudition revives the proud tradition of the history of geopolitics, and whose immanent moral sensibility reminds us that human choices made in Berlin (and London) today about the future of Europe might be decisive for the future of the world -- Timothy Snyder (author of Bloodlands) A tremendous feat ... Simms's pages teem with some of the greatest characters in European history -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times Remarkably, such a large and complex book ... offers a very straightforward argument and thesis ... The more familiar the story, the more arresting is Simms's repositioning of it ... This isn't simply academic history but an account of how we came to be, albeit ambivalently and conflictedly, involved in a continental narrative that is still unfolding Sunday Herald
Brendan Simms is Professor of the History of International Relations at the University of Cambridge. His major books include Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize) and Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire.