There is something profoundly romantic about lost civilizations. Europe's past is littered with states and kingdoms, large and small, that are scarcely remembered today, and while their names may be unfamiliar-Aragon, Etruria, the Kingdom of the Two Burgundies-their stories should change our mental map of the past. We come across forgotten characters and famous ones-King Arthur and Macbeth, Napoleon and Queen Victoria, right up to Stalin and Gorbachev-and discover how faulty memory can be, and how much we can glean from these lost empires. Davies peers through the cracks in the mainstream accounts of modern-day states to dazzle us with extraordinary stories of barely remembered pasts, and of the traces they left behind.
This is Norman Davies at his best: sweeping narrative history packed with unexpected insights. Vanished Kingdoms will appeal to all fans of unconventional and thought-provoking history, from readers of Niall Ferguson to Jared Diamond.
In White Eagle, Red Star, Norman Davies gives a full account of the War, with its dramatic climax in August 1920 when the Red Army - sure of victory and pledged to carry the Revolution across Europe to 'water our horses on the Rhine' - was crushed by a devastating Polish attack. Since known as the 'miracle on the Vistula', it remains one of the most decisive battles of the Western world.
Drawing on both Polish and Russian sources, Norman Davies illustrates the narrative with documentary material which hitherto has not been readily available and shows how the War was far more an 'episode' in East European affairs, but largely determined the course of European history for the next twenty years or more.
'If ever a history book were a tract for the times, it is The Isles: A History ... a masterwork..' Roy Porter, The Times
'Davies is among the few living professional historians who write English with vitality, sparkle, economy and humour. The pages fly by, not only because the pace is well judged but also because the surprises keep coming.' Felipe Fernàndez-Armesto, Sunday Times
'A book which really will change the way we think about our past ... marvellously rich and stimulating' Noel Malcolm, Evening Standard
'A historiographical milestone.' Niall Ferguson, Sunday Times
'The full shocking force of this book can only be appreciated by reading it.' Andrew Marr, Observer