The important thing, then, is to be led by readers. Aida Edemariam. Faye was 13 when he wrote his first poem. It was March , and he had already lived through two years of civil war in the tiny east African nation of Burundi — sitting in school while gunshots rang out, navigating neighbourhoods carved up by rival ethnic gangs, seeing the remains of bodies burned alive in the street. Writing did me a lot of good. When Faye eventually began a new life in a Paris suburb near Versailles, he was weighed down by war and trauma, navigating all the race and identity issues of discrimination in the banlieues.
By his 20s, Faye was a successful hip-hop artist. The result — Petit Pays Small Country — his first novel, about a year-old who comes of age during the Burundi civil war, has become a bestseller in France, leading to literary prizes and translation deals across the world. Its page-turning appeal lies in its deceptively gentle style: there is the tinkling of cutlery on plates, the mother silently massaging her temples, while beyond the front door, ethnic violence creeps up like a rising tide.
It is a window into the minds of families forced to flee conflict. No one ever mentions that. In the living room of his neat Paris flat, Faye is on a break from his current hip-hop tour. At 36, he still raps and makes music, although he is now better known for his novel and is working on two new pieces of fiction.
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Well liked in the music industry for his politeness and calm, Faye dislikes the rapper-turned-novelist label. He prefers to call himself simply a writer who moves between different forms. Writing a novel is like being in the middle of an ocean and choosing where you want to float, but a song is like a flowing river: there are river banks and you have to stay inside them. In the novel, the father of the young central character, Gabriel, believes children should stay out of politics. Then why, the child wonders.
As an adult, the mixed-race Gabriel is asked by women on dates in Paris to define his identity. But the novel shows that no matter how hard you try to sidestep it, war tries to designate you an enemy. It had made me serious. Faye began writing Small Country in And the next day, some people were back at restaurant terraces, life continued.
You have to understand how that wears down your nerves. You grow old much quicker. That fear — week in, week out — ends up changing you profoundly. It was hard for Faye to talk about the war in Burundi to his mother, who had escaped violence in Rwanda and lived as a refugee.
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Having recently returned from a protracted sojourn in Europe , including ten days in Flanders and The Somme , and nearly three weeks in St Petersburg , I cannot begin to stress how much this book taught me. It is well written , detailed , thorough , and worth the time it takes to understand the content. It goes far in explaining the history of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe.
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This book by M. MacMillan is worth reading as long as you read "The Sleep Walkers" to balance it. For me I don't buy most of her arguments. Fred , many thanks for the heads up , I just reread the Times review. I recalled the review from when it came out. I know that history writing can indeed have specific slants , and your comments have picqued my interest.
My local library has it , and I'm headed there after breakfast to pick it up , Many Thanks , Steve. I just read a fascinating article on Napoleon by British historian and journalist Andrew Roberts, published in the Smithsonian:. Fascinating article , Lola. Certainly points out the serendipity of historical events , I enjoyed it. If I read between the lines well, your question is more: Why has happened for me here ofcourse so much in a relativily small area compared to other places.
What is the reason? This needs to my opinion more than just a historical approach, I think you must look for answers also more in the field of anthropology. Conditions for humans to live are not equally divided in the world, some places prove to be more ideal than others, so geographical conditions play a very important role. For the basics of living you need in enough quantities fertile land, clear water, a moderate climate not too hot or too cold , absence of lethal endemic diseases like in the tropics a hot humid climate is ideal for germs whiping out complete populations etc. I think Europe in general these conditions are quite optimal: - Moderate climate due to the influence of the warm Gulf Stream, especially the western part.
So no real extreme temperatures and enough rain to guarantee crops keep producing enough food for a constantly expanding population. Easy to see the difference in terms of living conditions and cultural developement.
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The sea is relativily not far away providing more variation in food and a possible alternative during periods of crop failure. We have to go far back in time to understand that these conditions were vital in the period of the first settlements and made later the agricultural revolution possible.
As soon as the basics are enough guaranteed to survive you also get enough time and energy for cultural developement. The book of Landes that I mentioned earlier is to my opinion a good introduction. I hope this is a bit helpfull too. It is not my intention to continu or start a discussion, it is just to give hopefully an interesting way to look to the question asked. Opinions are welcome ofcourse. Engaging in "iffy" history has to be done when the available evidence is there.
My point is this: If Napoleon had "prevailed" at Waterloo, say, gave Wellington enough of a drubbing, in spite of the decisive Prussian arrival in force a lot of "iffy" factors to consider, two events would have happened Wellington's Anglo-Dutch army would have saved themselves from destruction by making for the Channel ports to get back to England, 2, politically, the most immediate thing that most likely would have happened would be the fall of the Tory government, since it was they who were determined to rid Europe of Napoleon once and for all.
Then it would have been a matter of political will under a British government led by the Whigs To prosecute further war against Napoleon, which served British purposes, the continental Allies need British financial subsidies. Austria under Metternich's diplomacy was much more lenient on Napoleon's survival look at what he offered to Napoleon in their last meeting in June as long as he behaved himself by being what his title said he was: Emperor of the French, ie and not of any one else Germans, Italians, etc.
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MacMillan even though she doesn't accept the Fischer thesis basically argues the broad position on the role of Great Britain in as do many British historians past and present. Those books were in libraries at all of the state universities and state colleges in the United States of America.
Each book has a clever title. Reading those books can be enjoyable. Hard cover books. Those books were reprinted by an other publishing company in recent years. Ian Kershaw I found it very informative, picqued my curiosity, will compared it to M. Still, McMeekin's work is needed in the overall historiography of WW 1 literature, where he pulls a Fischer Thesis of Univ Hamburg on Russia, severely, maybe a bit extreme at times but compelling in like manner how Fischer deals "severely" with Germany.
I've been re-reading Europe by Rick Steves after many years and would definitely recommend it to someone who wants a very concise overview of the history of Europe from cave paintings to the 21st century. And what exactly can historians bring to the study of a period which large numbers of other specialists are still trawling for their raw material?
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In other words, it is in the last 20 years that proper discussion about the War has been possible in the public sphere across Europe: that people have stopped living the legacy of the war on a day-by-day basis and have started, instead, coming to terms with it. Expressed differently, by a cold warrior, the Second World War effectively continued in new forms until the demise of Communism. In this way, the impact of the Second World War on European life was fundamentally different from the impact of the First.
If Stone argues for a great European turning point in , and Eley in , Richard Overy makes the case for Dan Stone effectively extends this point in his discussion about the dynamics of memory. Plainly, the arguments of these three historians overlap and might easily be synthesized, but the different emphases they opt for are revealing.
Yet precisely defined issues of periodization tend not to structure the book as a whole, and its treatment in individual chapters is uneven. Rosemary Wakeman mentions the watershed in her chapter on consumerism, but only briefly. Berend charts change over time in the European economy between and The book is organized thematically, but each thematic chapter asks precise questions about periodization, broadly distinguishing between the immediate post-war period, the s to s, and the period since the s.
Thus Kaelble addresses the level of trust in European societies across watersheds such as and uses this as a basis for explaining changes in moral values. Charting distinct changes in the level of urbanization helps Kaelble to explain the evolution of the welfare state. Even so, Kaelble opens himself up to the dangers of generalization. This bold comment offers little hint of variety across region, class and culture. Kaelble is similarly attuned to the division between Eastern and Western Europe, consistently debating the relative impact of common phenomena on both halves of the continent, probing the significance of variations in economic and sociological data.
On the other, it was the sharp ideological contrast that marked life on either side of the Iron Curtain. Integrating the more recent findings of this first group of historians into a single history of Europe would allow readers truly to evaluate what was European about Europe in this period. Unlike most authors of general accounts of Europe in this period, his attitude to the East is subtle.
Nevertheless, the East is the poor relation in his research. Sometimes it is omitted, as in the discussion of trade unions, or viewed in two dimensions, as in the related discussion of civil society ch. At other times its distinctiveness is blurred: in his analysis of East European education, for example, the complexities of social mobility and social exclusion are hardly considered, producing a distorted and partial picture. This is less obvious in The Oxford Handbook , whose readers are given little consistent help in reflecting on how and why Eastern and Western Europe developed in similar and different ways after If Kaelble spends less time on the East, he at least interrogates its significance.
In The Oxford Handbook , its significance is usually unclear. Only four chapters out of 35 are authored by historians whose primary specialization is in the history of any of the regions that once fell behind the Iron Curtain, though these include the late Mark Pittaway, a most innovative historian of Hungary, and the distinguished pairing of Ivan T.
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Berend and Vladimir Tismaneanu. The latest research into the war-ravaged Soviet Union suggests the opposite. Only one chapter is written by a Soviet specialist: a low yield for the biggest country in the world and one with such a highly developed historiography. Writing about ethnic diversity and nationhood before in a chapter on immigration , Stephen Castles omits Russia, that most diverse of countries, whose policies concerning ethnic and national identity throw much light on Europe more generally. In his excellent essay on decolonization, Martin Evans deliberately but regrettably sidesteps the question of whether the Soviet Union was an empire.
Meanwhile, those areas that fall outside the East-West paradigm receive inconsistent treatment: a good chapter on Spain, Greece and Portugal is matched by more scattered references to Scandinavia and the neutral Alpine enclaves. That is not to suggest that each region or group of similar countries should have its own chapter.
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