"History writing at its glorious best."--The New York Times
"A triumphant success. [Blanning] brings knowledge, expertise, sound judgment and a colorful narrative style."--The Economist
The New York Times bestselling volume in the Penguin History of Europe series
Between the end of the Thirty Years' War and the Battle of Waterloo, Europe underwent an extraordinary transformatoin that saw five of the modern world's great revolutions--scientific, industrial, American, French, and romantic. In this much-admired addition to the monumental Penguin History of Europe series, Tim Blanning brilliantly investigates the forces that transformed Europe from a medieval society into a vigorous powerhose of the modern world. Blanning renders this vast subject immediate and absorbing by making fresh connections between the most mundane details of life and the major cultural, political, and technological transformations that birthed the modern age.
This new volume in the Penguin History of Europe series is a wonderful achievement, particularly so considering the mammoth amount of specialist material that required synthesizing into digestible portions for general consumption. Blanning, professor of modern history at the University of Cambridge, has performed the miracle of balancing and blending traditional political and diplomatic accounts with the newer fields of social, economic and intellectual history. A prime example of this is the author's treatment of the impact of the new "public sphere." As people discoursed through coffeehouses, Masonic organizations or periodicals, "a new source of authority emerged to challenge the opinion-makers of the old regime: public opinion." Countries where this public sphere was left free, as in Britain or the Dutch Republic, tended to be more politically stable than, say, France, where suppression ended in bloody revolution. Blanning narrates the story of Europe from the end of the Thirty Years' War to the end of the Napoleonic wars, when secularization and the primacy of state sovereignty were recognized as the key attributes of the coming era. What the Europeans would eventually get was the secular, martial religion of nationalism. But this is the subject for a subsequent volume which will be hard-pressed to match this splendid one.