Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does
Published by: New Europe Books
When the legendary Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, Plovdiv—today the second-largest city in Bulgaria—was thousands of years old. Indeed, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam are all are mere infants compared to Plovdiv. This is just one of the paradoxes that haunts and defines the New Europe, that part of Europe that was freed from Soviet bondage in 1989, and which is at once both much older than the modern Atlantic-facing power centers of Western Europe while also being much younger than them. Eastern Europe! is a brief and concise (but informative) introduction to Eastern Europe and its myriad customs and history.
Even those knowledgeable about Western Europe often see Eastern Europe as terra incognito, with a sign on the border declaring “Here be monsters.” Tomek Jankowski's book is a gateway to understanding both what unites and separates Eastern Europeans from their Western brethren, and how this vital region has been shaped by but has also left its mark on Western Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. It is a reader-friendly guide to a region that is all too often mischaracterized as remote, insular, and superstitious.
The book comprises three parts, The first sums up modern linguistic, geographic, and religious contours of Eastern Europe, while the second, main part delves into the region's history, from the earliest origins of Europe up to the end of the Cold War. Closing the book is a section that makes sense of geographical name references -- many cities, rivers, or regions have different names -- and also includes an "Eastern Europe by Numbers" feature that provides charts describing the populations, politics, and economies of the region today. Throughout are boxed-off anecdotes ("Useless Trivia") describing fascinating aspects of Eastern European history or culture.
“This broad overview describes the nearly indefinable region that, until the Berlin Wall’s sudden fall, was shrouded behind the Iron Curtain—nations and peoples living amid constantly shifting boundaries in a centuries-old battleground between East and West. . . . [Jankowski] displays an ease and familiarity with cultural minutiae while briskly covering intense topics of genocide, religion, and Communist implosion. . . . Jankowski’s history of the region serves as a welcome introduction or refresher course.”
“A brief, concise, and informative introduction to the less-known part of the old continent. No country is left out: from Albania to Moldova, from Romania to Poland, from Bulgaria to Lithuania. No historic period is overlooked: from the dark ages of prehistory to the Middle Ages, from the Renaissance to the two world wars, from the Soviet period to the collapse of communism. This 600-page book can serve as both an introduction to Eastern Europe and a refresher to its intricate history. It is accessible and stimulating reading that includes humor, pictures, maps, tables, charts, and even poems and recipes. A good resource for teachers, students, and all those with roots in this part of the world.”
“[The] colloquial style succeeds in making this an accessible, if thorough, history of pretty much everywhere from East Berlin to the Black Sea back to 500CE. . . . This should be recommended reading for anyone heading to the former Eastern Bloc.”
— Traveller, easyJet’s inflight magazine
“Jankowski . . . offers a sweeping history of Eastern Europe and does an admirable job of getting information in on nearly every language and religious and cultural group that has existed in the area, a commendable feat. . . . [He] writes in an intelligent, accessible style, and it is easy to read the book from start to finish, or just to pick out sections on certain countries or events. . . . A meaty but not overly challenging read for history buffs and students, Eastern European scholars, and tourists with more than a passing interest in the history of the region.”
”Jankowski takes the reader on a comprehensive journey through the development of Eastern Europe. This is a huge book, wondrously large; detailed and fascinating . . . A must read for any history buff, student or anyone wanting to begin a dive into the wonders of Eastern Europe--I couldn’t recommend it enough.”