by Norman Davies
This book, together with Norman Davies' major work Europe: A History (to follow; 1365 pages!) and The Shortest History of Europe by John Hirst are a prelude to my attempt to see where we are now, and why (to follow).
This is a fascinating "story" of 15 states, 13 of which most people probably have never heard. But the most condensed wisdom (for me) comes in the introduction and final chapter where Norman Davies gives his experienced and educated overview of the business of history and education, and the parlous state of both in modern schools (compared to the apparently more highly rated I.T. and Media Studies!).
The fact that 15 kingdoms, from 5th century Tolosa to 20th century C.C.C.P. have vanished shows how unstable such entities are, and begs the question: What is really in the average person's mind when they say "I am British / French / Celt / Gypsy / European"? How secure is this belief, and what is it based on?
Many Europeans, particularly British, seem to think their state is secure, even eternal. Yet since 1945 several have vanished, including Greater German Reich (1945), German Democratic Republic (1990), Soviet Union, Yugoslavia ...
The Kingdoms in the book: (feel free to chuckle - Google's spell checker has only recognised the last two!)
Litva (precursor of Lithuania)
The most striking feature of the book, for me, is that the ordinary people who do all the work, then destroy most of it when instructed to "fight for their kingdom" and kill each other in the process, have never had much idea of where their state came from, to what degree they have been brainwashed by those in power, or what, ultimately, they would believe to be good and necessary for a state worth belonging to.
With the readily available wealth of information free to access to most of the world today - surely the time has come for this to change.
books, corporations, democracy, history, matrix, Norman Davies, politics, wisdom