Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review

Just finished Tim Blanning's "The Pursuit of Glory," a history of Europe from the Peace of Westphalia (1648) to the end of the wars of the French Revolution (1815). It was a highly readable and insightful work that covered almost all aspects of the period from the state of the  roads (dreadful) to the development of commerce (impressive), to medical technology (don't ask), to geo-politics and war. Among the more interesting things I learned about were the effects of agriculture and famine on major events like the French Revolution and the better part of a chapter dedicated to 18th century vice.

The love of blood sports was also a bit of an eye opener. Anyone from PETA should skip the chapter on hunting. I am no animal rights fanatic but some of their "entertainments" made me cringe. For lovers of the good old days you will enjoy the chapter on the wave of palace building that swept Europe during the golden age of the ancien regime.

The detail including astonishing levels of data and charts on the most obscure topics like the number of miles of canals built in Holland in the closing decade of the 17th century, lends incredible weight to his conclusions. And those are?

Read the book.

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