Thursday, April 13, 2017

Europe: Chained By History - Larry J. Hilton

Europe: Chained By History - Larry J. HiltonEurope: Chained By History
Larry J. Hilton
Newport Publishing
Copyright Date: December 2015
978-0996786119

The amazon.com product description:
A Plea for Europe to form a United States of Europe
Europe: Chained by History is a groundbreaking book that uses history to make a compelling case for Europe to form a United States of Europe--or risk seeing the European Union come apart individually.
Using the history of Vienna from its inception to 1938, readers are invited to observe Western Europe from within this ancient city.
  • Where did historic rivalries among European nations begin?
  • How did the Enlightenment affect Europe and the United States?
  • What persistent darkness allowed Hitler to lead the word in to a second devastating world war?
  • What will it take for today's European Union to survive?
Author Larry J. Hilton explores these questions, and more, by using fascinating details about what it was really like to live in Vienna from the the first century through the days of hyper-inflation after World War 1.
Thought provoking and well researched, Europe: Chained by History radiates hope even as it details the formidable political obstacles to European unity. In the end, a banking or ISIS crisis will force the issue.
It took me a while to get through Europe: Chained by History, but I think the read was worth it after all. I have to say though, that that was despite some of my first impressions thanks to the way it was formatted. Generally I'm not fond of books that use double-spacing and a larger font size, but that, I admit is a personal prejudice.

The author has taken an interesting route to his end conclusion, following a few particular threads through Austrian history for the most part, which had a mixed result for me. When I could really get into the book, I found it very compelling. I have to admit though that there were a few points at which I struggled, such as those describing Hitler and his life in Austria.

Initially I thought that the book was skimping on the details at times and I'm willing to debate the accuracy of a couple of those details - I'm very much interested in the Classical era, but the true point of the book comes much later in time: the seventeen-hundreds and later. That later period is also where the author shines and his true passion for the subject shows.

One of my favorite things about Europe: Chained by History is all of the snippets of day-to-day life the author includes, covering people of all sorts and through all the periods of time that the book covers, but particularly in the aftermath of World War One.  They really bring the impact of all the decisions made  - at all levels - home to the reader.

As I noted earlier, this is quite a dark book at times, and I found myself needing a break several times before I came back to it. Never was that due to the writing though, which was always clear and straightforward. Larry Hilton lays out his arguments clearly and then follows them up with well-thought-out points and a thorough use of history to prove them.

It's interesting to see all of the points where things might have gone differently if different choices had been made being pointed out. Often-times when I read history I see the books as simply following the events that happened. Larry Hilton does that, but also points out some of the other choices that could have been made to lead to different futures. Some of those choices could still be made even today - and that's the point of his book.

It's rather interesting to see history as not just a case of "here's what happened" but also as a set of expectations for the future - thus the chains of his title. Definitely a different perspective of the past, and one that provokes a fair bit of thought. I think that I'm going to be digesting this book for a while.

Europe: Chained by History is a book that I accepted for review purposes.
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