From the First World War to the waning days of the Cold War, a poignant exploration on what it means to be European at the end of the twentieth-century. Geert Mak crisscrosses Europe from Verdun to Berlin, Saint Petersburg to Srebrenica in search of evidence and witnesses of the last hundred years of Europe. Using his skills as an acclaimed journalist, Mak locates the smaller, personal stories within the epic arc of history-talking to a former ticket-taker at the gates of the Birkenau concentration camp or noting the neat rows of tiny shoes in the abandoned nursery school in the shadow of Chernobyl. His unique approach makes the reader an eyewitness to a half-forgotten past, full of unknown peculiarities, sudden insights and touching encounters. Sweeping in scale, but intimate in detail In Europe is a masterpiece.
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|Title of History eBook: In Europe|
|Release Date: 04-22-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||In Europe|
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Chapter One: Amsterdam
When I left Amsterdam on Monday morning, 4 January, 1999, a storm was rampaging through the town. The wind made ripples on the watery cobblestones, white horses on the River IJ, and whistled beneath the high iron roof of Central Station. For a moment I thought that God’s hand had momentarily tilted up all that iron, then set it back in place.
I was dragging my big, black suitcase. In it was a laptop, a mobile phone I could use to dispatch my daily columns, a few shirts, a sponge bag, a CD-ROM of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and at least fifteen books to soothe my nerves. My plan was to begin with the baroque cities of 1900, with the lightness of the Paris World’s Fair, with Queen Victoria’s reign over an empire of certainties, with the upsurge of Berlin.
The air was full of noises: the slapping of the waves, the crying of gulls on the wind, the roaring of the storm through the bare treetops, the trams, the traffic. There was very little light. The clouds chased across the sky from west to east, like dark-grey riders. For a moment they wafted a few notes along with them, the floating single strokes of a carillon. The newspapers reported that Morse code had now been phased out completely, and that the slipstreams of low-flying Ilyushins at Oostend airbase regularly sucked tiles off the neighbouring roofs. On the financial markets, the euro had made a brilliant debut. ‘Euro kicks off with challenge to dollar’s hegemony’ was Le Monde’s headline, and that morning the currency had briefly risen as high as $1.19. But Holland that day was ruled by the wind, the last, untamed force that left its mark in all d