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Even the stones spoke German

Brendan Simms: Wrotizla, Breslau, Wroclaw, 28 November 2002

Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City 
by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse.
Cape, 585 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 224 06243 3
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... incurious about and benevolent towards one of the last living links with their earlier history. Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse probably never met Schiller, but he could be a character in their stimulating book, which recounts the history of his home town. The name of the town itself does not appear in the title, and rightly so: language and ...

In the Hands of the Cannibals

Neal Ascherson, 20 February 1997

Europe: A History 
by Norman Davies.
Oxford, 1365 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 19 820171 0
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... is also important. All historians must tell their tale convincingly, or be ignored. So writes Norman Davies, in the introductory pages of this huge, heroic book. Carlyle claimed in 1834 that ‘the only Poetry is History, could we tell it right.’ In this sense, Europe: A History is an epic work of the imagination. It achieves (among many ...

Little More than an Extension of France

Hugo Young: The British Isles, 6 January 2000

The Isles: A History 
by Norman Davies.
Macmillan, 1222 pp., £30, November 1999, 9780333763704
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... those mountains, and on the Green Isle to the west – the other exclusively Germanic. Thus, Norman Davies writes, ‘the conditions had been created where England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales could begin the initial and most tentative phase of their crystallisation.’ The Isles’ deep history, therefore, was Celtic and, before ...

Those Streets Over There

John Connelly: The Warsaw Rising, 24 June 2004

Rising ’44: ‘The Battle for Warsaw’ 
by Norman Davies.
Pan, 752 pp., £9.99, June 2004, 0 330 48863 5
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... rasa on which to inscribe their rule. Could this fiasco have been averted? In his new account, Norman Davies distributes blame among the major powers, including the United States and Britain. But he does not explore the culpability of the Polish leaders who decided to launch the insurgency. The Germans were the main authors of the tragedy, choosing ...

Five Possible Ways to Kill a State

Neal Ascherson: Vanished Kingdoms, 15 December 2011

Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe 
by Norman Davies.
Allen Lane, 830 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 1 84614 338 0
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... face of it, this film is about a revolt against the restrictions of postwar Britain. But to read Norman Davies’s new book is to see many other ideas, some conscious and others perhaps unrecognised by the scriptwriters, stamped on the pages of Passport to Pimlico. Burgundy, as it happens, is one of the vanished kingdoms he visits. England is not, and ...

Mr Poland throws a party

John Lloyd, 27 July 1989

... activity obviously makes possible an almost limitless exercise of power. But martial law, as Norman Davies has pointed out in The Heart of Europe, was introduced by the ‘core of the Communist establishment’, the Army leaders, because every other source of authority had been exhausted. They acted, as Warsaw Pact forces manoeuvred on Poland’s ...

Church and State

R.F. Leslie, 20 May 1982

God’s Playground: A History of Poland, Vol 1., The Origins to 1745, Vol. 11, 1745 to the Present 
by Norman Davies.
Oxford, 605 pp., £27.50, December 1981, 0 19 822555 5
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... Dr Davies claims that ‘very few comprehensive surveys of Polish history, written by British and American scholars, have ever been attempted.’ He sees himself as producing something which had a predecessor in W. F. Morfield’s Poland, first published in 1893. A glance at his bibliography reveals that modern interpretation of Polish affairs in English has long since progressed beyond the stage where a comprehensive history of Poland is really necessary, unless it represents a synthesis drawing upon most recent historical work ...
Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century 
by Mark Mazower.
Penguin, 496 pp., £20, March 1998, 0 7139 9159 3
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... had a real chance of success. The triumph of liberal democracy was not predestined. Like Norman Davies in his monumental Europe: A History, Mazower gives ample space to Central and Eastern Europe, redressing the balance of countless conventional histories. Above all, as its deliciously subversive title suggests, this is the story of a ‘dark ...

Reputation

Peter Burke, 21 May 1987

The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline 
by J.H. Elliott.
Yale, 733 pp., £19.95, August 1986, 0 300 03390 7
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Philip IV and the Decoration of the Alcazar of Madrid 
by Steven Orso.
Princeton, 227 pp., £36.70, July 1986, 0 691 04036 2
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... in historical writing – by Natalie Davis, for example, in The Return of Martin Guerre, by Norman Davies in his Heart of Europe, and by Jonathan Spence in a number of studies of China. Their innovations in narrative form – making ordinary people protagonists, telling a story backwards, and so on – owe a good deal to the example of novelists ...

Who remembers the Poles?

Richard J. Evans: Between Hitler and Stalin, 4 November 2010

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin 
by Timothy Snyder.
Bodley Head, 524 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 224 08141 2
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... from Richard Overy in The Dictators to Robert Gellately in Lenin, Stalin and Hitler – some, like Norman Davies in Europe at War 1939-45, from a similar perspective to Snyder’s own. Despite the widespread misapplication of Hitler’s statement about the Armenians, few claims advanced in Snyder’s book are less plausible nowadays than the assertion ...

Finding out who you were

Paul Delany, 6 August 1992

Murther and Walking Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 357 pp., £14.95, October 1991, 1 85619 078 1
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... seem to me to underlie our apparently ordinary lives.’ Dunstan Ramsay, the hero of Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business, says this; but one can assume that Davies is also talking about the reception of his own novels. To reduce character and incident to their ‘mythical elements’ can be criticised as an evasion of ...

ODQ

Richard Usborne, 24 January 1980

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 
Oxford, 908 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780192115607Show More
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... my non-location of which has now been irritating me for weeks. From a little blue book, about a Norman baron dying. I only remember bits, and probably misremember those: In his chamber, weak and dying, Was a Norman baron lying … I couldn’t find this in Scott (school prize), nor in Kipling’s Collected Verse. I have ...

From Papa in Heaven

Russell Davies, 3 September 1981

Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 
edited by Carlos Baker.
Granada, 948 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 246 11576 9
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... nuts with the boredom and hang one on somebody. But I am being very restrained. I am waiting for Norman Mailer who is a glass-jawed punk with no defence. I fell over a cloud yesterday and busted my arm in two places. Doc said it was the worst double fracture he had seen since the 16th century. Busted the humerus clean off at the end and the whole elbow swole ...

What are they after?

William Davies: How Could the Tories?, 8 March 2018

... thinking drove Thatcher through the vicious recession of the early 1980s. It was encapsulated by Norman Tebbit in his conference speech in 1981, often misquoted: ‘I grew up in the 1930s with an unemployed father. He didn’t riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it.’ That would imply that economic hardship should ...

Wine Flasks in Bordeaux, Sail Spires in Cardiff

Hal Foster: Richard Rogers, 19 October 2006

Richard Rogers: Architecture of the Future 
by Kenneth Powell.
Birkhäuser, 520 pp., £29.90, December 2005, 3 7643 7049 1
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Richard Rogers: Complete Works, Vol. III 
by Kenneth Powell.
Phaidon, 319 pp., £59.95, July 2006, 0 7148 4429 2
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... practice behind him. A graduate of the Architectural Association, he attended Yale in 1961-62 with Norman Foster; the two were in partnership, together with their spouses, until 1967. Hard though it is to imagine today, Team 4 disbanded for lack of work, but not before they had completed a breakthrough structure for Reliance Controls in Swindon, which Kenneth ...

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