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Lunch » Tags » Untagged » Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations » User review

Gone and (mostly) forgotten

  • Jan 28, 2013
Rating:
+5
Have you ever heard of Tolosa, Litva, Etruria, Rusyn or Sabandia? These are some of the kingdoms that the author gives us a history of, from their beginnings to their ends. I'm sure that these names are basically unknown to the average history reader, such as myself, and therein lies the appeal of this book.

When I read a history book I always hope to learn something new about the subject. In this book I learned an enormous amount about places that once were mighty and well-known, but now are forgotten to just about everyone.

The author gives the history and the origin of the language of each country, sometimes in mind-numbing detail, but his writing is always interesting, and he knows quite a lot about his subjects. Some of the places about which he writes are somewhat familiar to readers, but as parts of other, more well-known entities. It's astonishing to learn how the boundaries of some countries evolved, and who were the winners and losers in the state-making milieu.

This work is quite long, and perhaps it should be taken in smaller doses, such as reading about one place, putting the book down to read something else, and then returning to it. That's the method I adopted, and it worked quite well.

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review by . January 28, 2013
Have you ever heard of Tolosa, Litva, Etruria, Rusyn or Sabandia? These are some of the kingdoms that the author gives us a history of, from their beginnings to their ends. I'm sure that these names are basically unknown to the average history reader, such as myself, and therein lies the appeal of this book.      When I read a history book I always hope to learn something new about the subject. In this book I learned an enormous amount about places that once were mighty and …
About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #92
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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A dozen-plus examples from European history constitute this ruminative disquisition on the impermanence of polities. Struck by popular amnesia about the existence of his selections, some of which endured for centuries (although one, the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine, lived but one day), Davies, from a traveler’s viewpoint, describes the contemporary appearance of each former state’s territory or principal city, then applies engrossing clarity to the history of its origin, ascent, and decline. Two states en route to expiration, Prussia and Savoy, left traces in contemporary Germany and Italy, but the rest are gone, submerged by dynastic politics, as were the duchy of Burgundy and the kingdom of Aragon, or hacked away and conquered by aggressive neighbors, as was the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Despite the subject of extinction, pessimism does not pervade Davies’ accounts, which detect a persistence of popular memory about each vanished state, encouraging advocates for its revival, as occurred in the cases of Poland and Lithuania. Having current relevance especially to the UK and Montenegro, Davies’ fascinating work harbors insights and discoveries for avid history readers. --Gilbert Taylor--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
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