Cover image for Europe : a cultural history
Europe : a cultural history
Rietbergen, P. J. A. N.
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Publication Information:
London ; New York : Routledge, 1998.
Physical Description:
xxvii, 516 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

Format :


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D20 .R42 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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'From about 13,000 BC it began to get warmer in Europe..' begins this all-encompassing survey of European cultural history. This book is a major and original contribution to the idea of Europe and its formation, from its Celtic and German origins, the influence of the Greeks and the Romans, the role of Christianity and the fruitful, if sometimes bloody, contacts with other cultures such as Islam.
Peter Rietbergen portrays Europe's history as a series of four grand phases of continuity and change set in the context of political, social and economic developments. A large selecton of illuminating excerpts are included to support the arguments. Europeis comprehensive, thorough and highly readable, and it will provide a stimulus for discussion among students and general readers alike.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Dutch historian Rietbergen (Univ. of Nijmegen) offers a broad historical summary of European societal development over the last 5000 years. Religion gets very close attention, as do certain seminal developments: printing, gunpowder, migration from country to city, and industrialization. Interspersed excerpts from primary sources (Grotius, Chaucer, Michaelangelo) add some variety to the text, though not always gravity (Iron Maiden lyrics?). The final quarter of the book, dealing with the 20th century, turns more toward sociology with less convincing results‘Rietbergen's prejudices (against the European Union, for instance) show through. Hundreds of more detailed books on European culture are available; this one's value is its breadth and synthesis. It would make a good primer for undergraduates or the interested lay reader, though it does presuppose some historical knowledge. For college and large public libraries only.‘Robert Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Rietbergen (Catholic University of Nijmegen), a Dutch scholar, provides a broad synthetic interpretation of the past. In a series of thoughtful observations discussing Europe's history from the last Ice Age to the present, he describes what he sees as the unique features of European culture. His Europe is not static but ever-changing. Nonetheless, it remains a Western rather than an Eastern Europe, one that at its origin is deeply influenced by the interaction of Catholic Christianity with the classical past. This Europe is transformed as humanism passes into the Enlightenment, enriched by its global contact with other peoples. Mass consumption and improved communication characterize modern times but erode much of Europe's traditional culture. The result is no narrow history of ideas but a sophisticated narrative of their complex interaction with economics, society, and politics. Although the author intends the book as an introduction for students, his mature reflections, especially on Europe's future, merit a much wider audience. Recommended for public and university libraries. D. C. Baxter; Ohio University