Starting with a superbly concise explanation of the Industrial Revolution, authors Garrett and Godfrey explore the intricate series of events that followed on the heels of a conservative reaction to Napoleon's defeat. With varying degrees of success, the victorious Allied powers sought to reinstall monarchy and religious authority throughout Europe. Hovering over this diplomatic finery was the reactionary figure of Prince von Metternich of Austria, a supremely gifted statesman who remained at the center of a glittering aristocratic European stage for 35 years. But the aristocratic reaction could not contain the surging demand of the new middle classes emerging in the wake of the titanic forces unleashed by the Industrial Revolution.
In a series of revolutions and counter-revolutions, Europe became convulsed by one political crisis after another as each kingdom in its turn grappled with the bewildering set of changes and demands that seemingly appeared at every turn. But middle class patriotic fervor could not be denied, and inevitably revolution led to nationalism and the formation of new states like Italy, Germany, Hungary, Rumania, Greece and others.
Despite all the crafty diplomatic initiatives and schemes put forth by Metternich and his conservative comrades, the old monarchies and religious institutions came under increasing pressure from a brash new order of liberal democrats, radical intellectuals, and progressive autocrats. Change was in the air and Louis Napoleon of France, among others, was determined to ride the swirling currents of a divided and aroused electorate to a political position of undisputed power.
© and (P)2007 Audio Connoisseur
Although I am an avid student and reader of history, I must admit that my knowledge of European history during the 19th century is somewhat sketchy- especially when it comes to the details leading up to the revolutions of 1848. This book was excellent at explaining those details. The authors start out with a detailed description of the catylist for the change in Europe during this time period- the industrial revolution- and they move forward covering critical events all the way up to the declaration of the German Empire at Versailles in 1871. Chapter 1 focuses in great detail on the industrial revolution and at times I found the description to be almost too tedious (I decided after a while to skip over this part)- but for those who are intently interested in the actual mechanics of the industrial revolution, it is quite good. The subsequent chapters focus on the changes between 1815 and 1870 on a country by country basis- starting with France, working through Austria, Prussia, the German Confedreation, Spain, Italy and finally Russia. The analysis is quite detailed and excellent. Great historical names of the past such as Metternich, Bismarck, Mazzini, Louis Napoleon, and Cavour together with their contributions are all woven into the fabric of the volume. The narrator does a very good job with his narration as well. I enjoyed the volume enough to purchase the second volume as well. In conclusion, I would recommend the volume to anyone who wishes to acquire better knowledge and understanding about Europe during the period
Garret and Godfrey must be congratulated for a truly amazing work. The level of detail and the style of writing is not comparable to anything that I have ever read. Those who would comment on western civilization must read this book first.
The narrator's consistent mispronunciation of simple historical names and nouns (eg Marshal Ney and tricolour pronounced as "Marshal Nigh, and try colour" ) really grates and detracts. The narrator seems to think that he is a cross between Patrick Stewart and Winston Churchill - it is truly a camp and hammed up delivery. Quite pompous. The content is worth putting up with the self-indulgent delivery and constant mis-pronunciations though.
It must be really difficult to hire and coach people who read books for recording. I don't know how well I would do. But it's sad, whatever the cause, when a good book suffers because the voice and delivery on the recording are not appropriate. I've run across several instances. This book is another example. The reader is too slow. Way too slow. So you speed him up on your IPOD, and that's not entirely satisfactory either. I would listen closely to the sample before buying this book. If you can stand the style of the reader, buy it. If not, don't. You are wasting your money.
Although I enjoyed reading about the endless intrigue and characters that have shaped Europe as it is today, I did get a little bored with the never ending recounting of the facts. I wish it would have been made a little more enjoyable by livening up the story some.
"Does what it says."
I suppose, as Abraham Lincoln once remarked, 'people who like this sort of thing, will find this the sort of thing they like'. It does what it says on the cover; gives a fairly dispassionate history of Europe in three volumes. The narration is somewhat ponderous, presumably to give it gravitas and some of the pronunciation is quirky: A well known French dynasty becomes a fine American whiskey for instance. The speed of delivery can be rectified by setting your ipod to 1.5x speed, which gives you a lively gallop through Europe's past.
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