The Middle Kingdoms: A New History of Central Europe

Basic. May 2023. 640p. ISBN 9781541619784. $36. HIST
This is an astonishing book that brings together more than 2,000 years of Central European history into a comprehensive and accessible narrative. From Paganism to Christianity, and from the Roman Empire to 20th-century communism, Central Europe contains volumes of divergent and competing events and ideas. Rady’s (Central European history, Univ. Coll. London; The Habsburgs) lifetime of scholarship is marshaled to encompass the arts, literature, religion, science, statecraft, and warfare of this region. While immersing readers in this strikingly independent and singular part of Europe, Rady simultaneously demonstrates how, through the lens of Central Europe, accepted clichés about Western Europe appear nonsensical and must be reimagined. The author makes the case that the history of Central Europe is indispensable to understanding current events on the continent today. Notes, primary sources, and extensive citations make this an authoritative scholarly account, but the author eschews the pitfalls of purely academic writing. Anecdotes, colorful stories and quotations, as well as the constant presence of Rady’s wise and engaging voice make this a rare book, equally suited to the realm of niche historical research and popular accounts of culture, history, and politics.
VERDICT This is an unparalleled resource for anyone concerned about the future of Europe and the history of its nations.
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