100 books like Inventing Eastern Europe

By Larry Wolff,

Here are 100 books that Inventing Eastern Europe fans have personally recommended if you like Inventing Eastern Europe. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Lithuanian-American with a Chinese name, thanks to my husband. Thirty years ago, I found papers among my uncle’s possessions telling a WWII story about our ancestral Lithuania. I had heard about it in broad terms, but I could hardly believe what I was reading. I spent years validating the material. The result was Amber Wolf, a historical novel about a war within the war: the fight against the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. While many countries were involved in separate struggles, I focused on Lithuania and their David and Goliath fight against the Russian army. After all this time, the story still moves me.

Ursula's book list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about)

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

Bloodlands is a story about the dead. Using archives made available after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Mr. Snyder sheds light on both Stalin’s and Hitler’s brutality.

In a confined area that includes just eastern Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic countries, 14 million civilians died from the 1930s to the end of the war. Most were either starved or shot. Even more startling were the plans to kill millions more.

Stalin said, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” Mr. Snyder reminds us of the tragedy.

By Timothy Snyder,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Bloodlands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Americans call the Second World War "the Good War." But before it even began, America's ally Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens-and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war's end, German and Soviet killing sites fell behind the Iron Curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.
?
Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive, Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of…


Book cover of By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia

Tomek Jankowski Author Of Eastern Europe! Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does

From my list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born into a family with an Eastern European heritage, and lived and studied in the region for some years – including during the period of the collapse of the communist regimes. I am comfortable in Polish and Hungarian, and more vaguely functional in Russian and German – with Bulgarian a distant last. My undergraduate degree in history included an Eastern European specialization (including a paper co-administered between American and Hungarian institutions), and my graduate degree in economics included a focus on emerging economies. In my “day job” as a business analyst, I deal frequently with the business landscape in the region. I am married to a Pole, and have family in Poland.    

Tomek's book list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma

Tomek Jankowski Why did Tomek love this book?

Barry Cunliffe is a celebrated British archaeologist who specializes in both Europe’s and Britain’s origins.

Admittedly, Barry gets into the weeds a bit which can be challenging for those just looking for an introduction, but what he does better than most is connect the dots that bind Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa together.

Most histories of Europe pretend that Europe is an island, separate from Asia and everything else, as if it developed in a vacuum – but Barry reminds us that Charlemagne and Columbus are only part of the full European story.

Barry is a great place to start to understand the Eastern European, Asian, and Middle Eastern side of your British or Irish heritage – and yes, they are connected in some very direct ways.  

By Barry Cunliffe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean is nothing less than the story of how humans first started building the globalized world we know today. Set on a huge continental stage, from Europe to China, it is a tale covering over 10,000 years, from the origins of farming around 9000 BC to the expansion of the Mongols in the thirteenth century AD.

An unashamedly 'big history', it charts the development of European, Near Eastern, and Chinese civilizations and the growing links between them by way of the Indian Ocean, the silk Roads, and the great steppe corridor (which crucially allowed horse riders…


Book cover of Microcosm: A Portrait of a Central European City

Tomek Jankowski Author Of Eastern Europe! Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does

From my list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born into a family with an Eastern European heritage, and lived and studied in the region for some years – including during the period of the collapse of the communist regimes. I am comfortable in Polish and Hungarian, and more vaguely functional in Russian and German – with Bulgarian a distant last. My undergraduate degree in history included an Eastern European specialization (including a paper co-administered between American and Hungarian institutions), and my graduate degree in economics included a focus on emerging economies. In my “day job” as a business analyst, I deal frequently with the business landscape in the region. I am married to a Pole, and have family in Poland.    

Tomek's book list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma

Tomek Jankowski Why did Tomek love this book?

In his exploration of East Prussia in its final stages, author Max Egremont noted, “This is a part of Europe where boundaries are vague, where names deceive.” (2011; Pg. 220)

It is true across all of Europe but more so in Eastern Europe that ethnic and cultural boundaries often overlap – though nationalists try to claim exclusive domain.

This is a book about one city, today known as Wrocław (in southwestern Poland) which has a rich Polish history – but whose background includes strong German (“Breslau”), Czech (“Vratislav”), Jewish (ברעסלוי /Bresloi), Romany, and even more layers. Often these cultures coexisted, and mixed.

This book is a wonderful introduction to the ethnic complexity of Eastern Europe, and how today’s political borders can give the false impression of simple, clear ethnic boundaries.   

By Norman Davies, Roger Moorhouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Microcosm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In May 1945, the city of Breslau was annihilated by the Soviet Red Army. At the beginning of February the Russians had laid seige to the city, an ordeal that was to last for nearly five months. Much of Breslau was destroyed, thousands of its inhabitants were killed. Breslau surrendered four days after Berlin and was thus the last Fortress of the Reich to fall and one of the very last areas in Germany to surrender. The story of Central Europe is anything but simple. As the region in between East and West Europe, it has always been endowed with…


Book cover of Historical Atlas of East Central Europe

Tomek Jankowski Author Of Eastern Europe! Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does

From my list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born into a family with an Eastern European heritage, and lived and studied in the region for some years – including during the period of the collapse of the communist regimes. I am comfortable in Polish and Hungarian, and more vaguely functional in Russian and German – with Bulgarian a distant last. My undergraduate degree in history included an Eastern European specialization (including a paper co-administered between American and Hungarian institutions), and my graduate degree in economics included a focus on emerging economies. In my “day job” as a business analyst, I deal frequently with the business landscape in the region. I am married to a Pole, and have family in Poland.    

Tomek's book list on understanding your Eastern European Grandma

Tomek Jankowski Why did Tomek love this book?

Look, Eastern European history is messy and complicated, and involves an almost non-stop parade of border changes.

Countries emerge and even dominate, only to disappear two centuries later. (Ever hear of the Avar Khanate, or medieval Halych?)

British historian Eric Hobsbawm noted once how a person born in 1900 in what is today Mukachevo, Ukraine who lived to be 91 years old would have collected over their lifetime the passports of 5 different countries – without ever moving from the house they were born in.

The Magocsi atlas is a wonderful and well-organized introduction to Eastern Europe’s political, ethnic, economic, and etc. borders, laid out in colorful maps that are easily understood. This is a must-have for anyone delving into the region. 

By Paul Robert Magocsi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Historical Atlas of East Central Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the first time in any language, here is an atlas that covers all of East Central Europe, from the early fifth century through 1992. The atlas encompasses the countries of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece. Also included are the eastern part of Germany (historic Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Prussia, Saxony, and Lusatia), Bavaria, Austria, northeastern Italy (historic Venetia), the lands of historic Poland-Lithuania (present-day Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine up to the Dnieper River), Moldova, and western Turkey.


Book cover of The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1550-1700: An Interpretation

Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski Author Of The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1733-1795: Light and Flame

From my list on Central and Eastern European history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by Central and Eastern Europe all of my adult life. Many cruises along the Danube and around the Baltic Sea have allowed me to see the stunning best of the region. Since the early 1990s, I’ve taught the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Russian Empire to a generation of students. Professor of Polish-Lithuanian History at University College London since 2013, my next challenge is to promote the history of Poland to allcomers via the Polish History Museum in Warsaw, the wonderful city which is my home.

Richard's book list on Central and Eastern European history

Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski Why did Richard love this book?

Robert Evans’s masterpiece is the reader’s equivalent of scaling Himalayan peaksand marveling at the views. The author’s linguistic and intellectual range is breathtaking. Those who read this classic of learned prose carefully will be taken on an unforgettable journey right over and below the horizon of the Central European mind between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. One of the greatest works of early modern intellectual history ever written.

By Robert John Weston Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1550-1700 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines and accounts for the emergence of a powerful Habsburg state in central Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. Charting the transformation of the Habsburg lands from a casual juxtaposition of territories into a major and reasonably stable commonwealth, Evans examines the social and economic changes brought about by the Counter-Reformation, the interaction between regions and central government, and the intellectual evolution from the Renaissance
to the Baroque.


Book cover of The Triumph of the Dark: European International History 1933-1939

Michael A. Barnhart Author Of Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations

From my list on history books for teaching and learning.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gaming led to my career as a history professor. When I was about ten, I discovered some of the first commercial board games, Gettysburg or Diplomacy. Hooked, I delved into the history behind such games and discovered a passion for delving deeper. After I began teaching, I thought I could share that passion with my students through historical simulations. My “sim” courses became among the most popular in the university. 

Michael's book list on history books for teaching and learning

Michael A. Barnhart Why did Michael love this book?

Surely the rise of Hitler and the impact of global depression gave an air of inevitability about the holocaust to follow? In this successor volume, Steiner makes clear many other factors were in play that might have altered Europe’s fate. She details the West’s overriding fear of Soviet communism, the crucial role Mussolini played as termite to the tentative international order built in the 1920s, and the deep internal divisions that French leaders ultimately were unable to overcome, divisions that played their own role in strengthening British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s decision to deal with Hitler at the Munich conference. 

By Zara Steiner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Triumph of the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this magisterial narrative, Zara Steiner traces the twisted road to war that began with Hitler's assumption of power in Germany. Covering a wide geographical canvas, from America to the Far East, Steiner provides an indispensable reassessment of the most disputed events of these tumultuous years.

Steiner underlines the far-reaching consequences of the Great Depression, which shifted the initiative in international affairs from those who upheld the status quo to those who were intent on destroying it. In Europe, the l930s were Hitler's years. He moved the major chess pieces on the board, forcing the others to respond. From the…


Book cover of The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848

Philip Dwyer Author Of Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769 - 1799

From my list on the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Australian historian specializing in the French Revolution and Napoleon. I have spent a goodly part of my career writing a three-volume biography of Napoleon, alongside chapters, articles, and edited books that aimed at reassessing the man and the period. Working on Napoleon and the French as occupiers led me into the history of massacre and more broadly into the history of violence. I studied under the preeminent French Napoleonic scholar, Jean Tulard, at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV.

Philip's book list on the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on Europe

Philip Dwyer Why did Philip love this book?

This masterful analysis of European foreign policy encompasses a period slightly larger than the life of Napoleon, but the core of the book is the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. On first reading this I was struck not only by the depth and breadth of Schroeder’s knowledge, but also by his uncanny ability to question standard interpretations and to present an original and oftentimes provocative evaluation. This book made me think about how best to write history. Elegantly written, this is an accomplished tome that will be read by students of foreign policy for many years to come. 

By Paul W. Schroeder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the only modern study of European politics to cover the entire timespan from the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 to the revolutionary year of 1848. Paul Schroeder's comprehensive and authoritative volume charts the course of international history over this turbulent period, in which the map of Europe was redrawn time and again. Professor Schroeder examines the wars, political crises, and diplomatic opportunities of the age, many of which - the
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna and its aftermath - had far-reaching consequences for modern Europe.

Professor Schroeder provides a new account of…


Book cover of The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914

Paul Morland Author Of Tomorrow's People: The Future of Humanity in Ten Numbers

From my list on the impact of population on everything.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in demography began when I saw rapid demographic change taking place before my eyes in London, and when I noted the different fertility choices of friends and relations and started to put the pieces together and to understand how demography shapes our changing reality. I have published three books on the subject—the first, a version of my PhD thesis, the second and third captured belowand have broadcast and written articles for the press extensively on these topics.

Paul's book list on the impact of population on everything

Paul Morland Why did Paul love this book?

It takes real historic breadth to write a comprehensive history of the nineteenth century and only a historian of the quality of Evans could pull it off so convincingly. Like his mentor Eric Hobsbawmbut unencumbered by the Marxian straight-jacketEvans masterfully draws the links not only between decades and between countries and continents but also between the social, the economic, and the political. His book is no demographic history, but it takes demography seriously. This really matters in a century in which the Malthusian bonds were broken for some of humanity, not all of it, making it a period of European global supremacy underpinned by demographic takeoff, the effects of which we are still feeling.

By Richard J. Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pursuit of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Economist Best Book of the Year

"Sweeping . . . an ambitious synthesis . . . [Evans] writes with admirable narrative power and possesses a wonderful eye for local color . . . Fascinating."-Stephen Schuker, The Wall Street Journal

From the bestselling author of The Third Reich at War, a masterly account of Europe in the age of its global hegemony; the latest volume in the Penguin History of Europe series

Richard J. Evans, bestselling historian of Nazi Germany, returns with a monumental new addition to the acclaimed Penguin History of Europe series, covering the period from the fall…


Book cover of The Anatomy of Fascism

Archie Brown Author Of The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher, and the End of the Cold War

From my list on authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout the forty-one years (thirty-four of them at Oxford) I spent as a university teacher, I taught a course on Communist government and politics (latterly ‘Communist and post-Communist government’). Communist-ruled systems were never less than highly authoritarian (when they became politically pluralist, they were, by definition, no longer Communist), and in some countries at particular times they were better described as totalitarian. That was notably true of Stalin’s Soviet Union, especially from the early 1930s to the dictator’s death in 1953. The books I’ve written prior to The Human Factor include The Rise and Fall of Communism and The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age.

Archie's book list on authoritarianism and totalitarianism

Archie Brown Why did Archie love this book?

Fascism and Communism purported to explain all social and political phenomena and, on that basis, justified their authoritarian or totalitarian rule. The term ‘fascist’ tends to be loosely applied to intolerant and autocratic political behaviour, but the outstandingly lucid, and highly readable, book by Robert Paxton not only surveys fascism in practice – in Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany and in fascist movements and parties in many different countries – it also shows what its distinctive components are. What he calls the ‘mobilizing passions’ of fascism include the glorification of war and violence, expansionism, racism, a fixation on national solidarity, rejection of the legitimacy of diverse interests and values within a society, and, not least, a cult of the heroic leader, with the leader’s instincts counting for more than reasoned, evidence-based argument.

By Robert O. Paxton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anatomy of Fascism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fascism was the major political invention of the twentieth century and the source of much of its pain. How can we try to comprehend its allure and its horror? Is it a philosophy, a movement, an aesthetic experience? What makes states and nations become fascist?

Acclaimed historian Robert O. Paxton shows that in order to understand fascism we must look at it in action - at what it did, as much as what it said it was about. He explores its falsehoods and common threads; the social and political base that allowed it to prosper; its leaders and internal struggles;…


Book cover of Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914

Gordon Martel Author Of The Origins of the First World War

From my list on why the First World War happened.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of diplomacy, war, and empire. A founding editor of The International History Review, I have written books on ‘Imperial Diplomacy’, on the origins of the First World War, and on the July Crisis. I have edited: the 5-volume Encyclopedia of War and the 4-volume Encyclopedia of Diplomacy; the journals of A.L. Kennedy for the Royal Historical Society; numerous collections of essays, and the multi-volume Seminar Studies in History series. I am currently working on a two-volume study of Political Intelligence in Great Britain, 1900-1950, which is a group biography of the men who made up the Department of Political Intelligence in Britain, 1917-1919

Gordon's book list on why the First World War happened

Gordon Martel Why did Gordon love this book?

One of the most popular explanations for the outbreak of war between 1918 and 1939 was that it had been caused by the ‘Merchants of Death,’ i.e. the large armaments firms and their financiers who profited from international animosity. Although the conspiracy theory tendency in this belief gradually dissipated, the idea that the arms race was a significant contributory factor leading to war has long featured on any list of ‘causes’.

David Stevenson’s exhaustive research in the archives of most of the combatant states has provided us with massive and fascinating detail on the thinking of those involved and the relationship between geopolitical ambitions, strategic calculations, and financial realities. His treatment makes for fascinating reading, enhanced by crisply argued interpretations of the role of military and naval preparedness in the crises that plagued prewar Europe.

By David Stevenson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Armaments and the Coming of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The global impact of the First World War dominated the history of the first half of the twentieth century. This major reassessment of the origins of the war, based on extensive original research in several countries, is the first full analysis of the politics of armaments in pre-1914 Europe.

David Stevenson directs attention away from the Anglo-German naval race towards the competition on land between the continental armies. He analyses the defence policies of the Powers, and the interaction between the growth of military preparedness and the diplomatic crises in the Mediterranean and the Balkans that culminated in the events…


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