Chronicles from Pre-Celtic Europe takes a look at the contents of the Oera Lind Book and matches this up with modern archaeological, paleoclimatological, linguistical and genetic findings. The book is well written and extremely interesting. It provides food for thought and hopefully some additional research.
Did you ever wonder what happened to the people on Easter Island? Why the Maya populations died out? Or maybe what happened to the Vikings on Greenland? What caused all these big and small population to die out? Collapse and the author Diamond explores what happened and what caused these population to collapse.
This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in extinct cultures such as the one on Easter Island and others. Diamond explore several, both small and big populations from different times in human history to find why they are gone and what similarities there were between them. Diamond means there are five reasons, but the most central cause is about the environment. Changes in it, to be more specific, but both natural causes and human exploitation of the environment. Other reasons are size of the population, and friendly and unfriendly neighbors. Diamond explains the culture of the different population, traditions, way of life, and much, much more. It's not just a list stating what caused their downfall, but an exploration of the entire culture.
As said, fascinating and a great read for anyone interested. At the same time, the book itself has many shortcomings. Diamond has a way of stating the same thing over and over again. For example, he can explain scientific methods - like determining a tree's age based on its rings - several times in different chapters. It might be necessary to explain the first time, but the second and third is redundant. In the same manner, Diamond is easily sidetracked, it seems, when trying to make a point. He might start an argument and give proof of this, but then he's telling something else (for a reason unknown to the reader) before heading back to his original argument, which, at that point, the reader might have lost sight of what the original argument (and point) was in the beginning. This of course makes the book rich on details, but it's hard to get an overall picture while sorting through all the details that might or might not have been necessary to get the point across.
The second biggest issue is that in the end Diamond offers a list of reading for the interested, but no reference for his sources. For a big book like this, it must've been manysources. And while there's an index in the end, it doesn't make up for lack of the sources used. It lowers the credibility of the entire book.
To sum up: A detail exploration of extinct societies which at times turns a bit too detailed.
The collapse of the Western Roman Empire led to over a thousand years of chaos and re-creation before a new system would evolve to lead Europe back into the realm of organized civilization, and researcher Jack L. Schwartzwald's The Collapse and Recovery of Europe, AD 476–1648 is key to understanding this process and time period.
This volume is a companion to his introductory The Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome: A Brief History, which concluded with the fall of the Roman Empire: familiarity with the prior history is recommended for a smooth continuation of the saga in this title, which details the history of Byzantium (the successor state to the Eastern Roman Empire), the struggles of Western Europe in the absence of Roman rule, and the evolution of the nation-state from the ashes of the old empire.
One might think such coverage would be weighty and limited to graduate-level history students alone, but Schwartzwald has taken care to tailor these events for readers who may not necessarily hold college-level backgrounds in Western European history, and that makes it a recommendation for general history readers, as well.
It's important to note that tone and approach have a lot to do with this access: descriptions are heavily footnoted, but are also packed with lively language.
As Schwartzwald describes events, individuals, and social and political struggles, the result is a captivating survey that draws even general readers into the drama and controversies of the times.
It's no mean feat to produce a read equally accessible by scholars and lay readers; no light accomplishment to heavily footnote a researched piece but keep the language inviting enough to draw in and immerse even readers with little prior familiarity with European history. That Schwartzwald accomplishes all this in a manner designed to successfully satisfy both disparate audiences is testimony to an achievement that offers the rare opportunity to appear in both college-level history collections and general lending libraries alike.
The Collapse and Recovery of Europe, AD 476–1648 may sound like a weighty, imposing read, but its ability to pair facts with descriptions that are involving and engrossing set it apart from many other accounts and make it an outstanding recommendation and accomplishment, indeed.