Simon Jenkins – A Short History of Europe


Penguin presents the audiobook edition of A Short History of Europe written and read by Simon Jenkins.

Europe is an astonishingly successful place. In this dazzling new history, best-selling author Simon Jenkins grippingly tells the story of its evolution from warring peoples to peace, wealth and freedom – a story that twists and turns from Greece and Rome, through the Dark Ages, the Reformation and the French Revolution, to the Second World War and up to the present day.

Jenkins takes in leaders from Julius Caesar and Joan of Arc to Wellington and Angela Merkel as well as cultural figures from Aristotle to Shakespeare and Picasso. He brings together the transformative forces and dominant eras into one chronological tale – all with his usual insight, colour and authority.

Despite the importance of Europe’s politics, economy and culture, there has not been – until now – a concise book to tell this story. Covering the key events, themes and individuals, Jenkins’ portrait of the continent could not be more timely – or masterful.

Author: Simon Jenkins
Narrator: Simon Jenkins
Duration: 11 hours 14 minutes
Released: 18 Aug 2011
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Language: English

User Review:

wellspring upturned

I have gone back over postwar USA history lately through several books, and this British one is a great match. In audio, I always look for a balance between good sharp telling detail, listenable pace and style, well-etched personality portraits, and good narrator performance. This one hit the mark perfectly, all the way through. The narrator has a great gift (at the top of any I’ve ever heard) for lending enough clarity, unflagging energy and punch to keep the listener’s attention bright. I feel most all the gaps in my sketchy knowledge are filled, and I feel as if I was living through each phase of these times. The experiences of all members of society are touched on when fitting, though the focus is naturally much more on the top political decision makers. Of the latter, the portrayals are fantastic. Foibles and scandals are explained, though not for voyeurism’s sake, and only when they count for something. There is enough popular culture to lend color to it all — just enough to enrich, to add dimensions, and not distract. The publisher’s blurb hardly does justice to the wide sweep and discipline of the storytelling. Yes, a transition toward a “shopping”-biased political economy is one thread here, but there is a vastly rich tapestry besides. For its length, this one has held my attention best of any I can recall. And I listen to hundreds. For the most recent Brit story, I see other titles I will now pursue confidently, with the very solid background I gained here.