New Books Network

Timothy Snyder, “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” (Basic Books, 2011)
Neville Chamberlain described Czechoslovakia as a far away land we know little about. He could have said it about any of the countries of east-central Europe. Yet, for the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany east-central Europe, was of prime importance in ways that would have horrible consequences for the people... Read More
Richard C. Hall, “The Modern Balkans: A History” (Reaktion Books, 2011)
Some parts of the world seem to suffer from rather too much history. The Balkans, that mountainous peninsula situated between the Black Sea and the Adriatic, is most certainly one of them. Perhaps it’s because the Balkans stands on so many of Europe’s historical fault lines: Asia v. Europe; Eastern... Read More
Matthew Kelly, “Finding Poland: From Tavistock to Hruzdowa and Back Again” (Jonathan Cape, 2010)
Very little illustrates history as well as the personal story. For all of the wars, deportations and suffering of the mid Twentieth Century, it’s only when there are real people that the figures come alive. Luckily there are some very good books out there that help us get our heads... Read More
Michael A. Reynolds, “Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1908-1918” (Cambridge UP, 2011)
Most of us live in a world of nations. If you were born and live in the Republic of X, then you probably speak X-ian, are a citizen of X, and would gladly fight and die for your X-ian brothers and sisters. If, however, you were born and live in... Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew” (Yale UP, 2009)
I’ve got a name for you: Robert Zimmerman (aka Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham). You’ve heard of him. He was a Jewish kid from Hibbing, Minnesota. But he didn’t (as the stereotype would suggest) become a doctor, lawyer, professor or businessman. Nope, the professions were not for him. He loved the... Read More
Stephen Kotkin, “Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment” (Modern Library, 2009)
Why did communism collapse so rapidly in Eastern Europe in 1989? The answer commonly given at the time was that something called “civil society,” having grown mighty in the 1980s, overthrew it. I’ve always been more than a little uncomfortable with both the idea of “civil society” and this explanation.... Read More
Padraic Kenney, “1989: Democratic Revolutions at the Cold War’s End” (Bedford-St. Martin’s, 2009)
There are certain dates that every European historian knows. Among them are 1348 (The Black Death), 1517 (The Reformation), 1648 (The Peace of Westphalia), 1789 (The French Revolution), 1848 (The Revolutions of 1848), 1914 (The beginning of World War I), 1933 (Hitler comes to power), and 1945 (The end of... Read More