The Pursuit of Glory : Europe 1648-1815, Paperback Book

The Pursuit of Glory : Europe 1648-1815 Paperback

3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


'The Penguin History of Europe series ... is one of contemporary publishing's great projects' New StatesmanThe Pursuit of Glory brings to life one of the most extraordinary periods in European history - from the battered, introvert continent after the Thirty Years War to the dynamic one that experienced the French Revolution and the wars of Napoleon. Tim Blanning depicts the lives of ordinary people and the dominant personalities of the age (Louis XIV, Frederick the Great, Napoleon), and explores an era of almost unprecedented change, growth and cultural, political and technological ferment that shaped the societies and economies of entire countries.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780140166675

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In this narrative of the history of Europe from the Westphalian peace settlement, until the battle of Waterloo, Tim Blanning manages to put in almost everything. He goes threw the state and development in every field conceivable such as agriculture, trade, religion, rulers, palaces, science, the Enlightenment, art (etc.) and then finishes the book of with a more chronological part describing the wars during the period. This specific era in history and the changes during it are many times forgotten. But it was during these years that the kings manage to wrestle the power out of the hands of the nobility, thereby making the nations more powerful. In the beginning of this era anyone was easily burned as a witch whereas in the end of this period any accuser would probably end up in jail themselves. The world saw also the birth of the artist that wasn’t solemnly confined to wishes of a royal patron, but could instead make their living and sometimes fortune by selling their service to an increasing public. The book is interesting, witty and extremely well written. Mr Blanning seems to bee the kind of historian that wants the reader to start thinking. He gives other perspectives on things that are usually seen as matter of facts. Was for example the Holy Roman Empire such a preposterous creation if it managed to stay a float for a thousand years? Was the Industrial Revolution really a “revolution” or is that just a label attached retrospectively to an evolutionary process? It did wonders for this reader who more than occasionally had to pause to grasp the extent of what is written on the pages of this book. At the same time Tim Blanning manages to explain why the Bitts came out on top at the end after all the wars against France, and why this historical period marked the end of the glorious days for Spain, the Ottoman Empire and Sweden, and the beginning for Prussia and Russia.What this book doesn’t give you is a total chronological order in what happened in what country, or simplified explanations over broad areas as materialist historians sometimes do. In my opinion that would have been impossible with the dept and extent of what Tim Blanning manages to cover. But he could have presented his references in other ways than just in the running text.One of the best history books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. A five out of five…

Review by

I favor books that are not too thrilling, even a bit boring. I don't want the next page pulling at me when it's time for sleep at night. History books usually fill the bill. I know how they turn out so I am along for the ride and whatever insights the author has. But with this book, I find, there are some books too boring even for me. This is good for my sleep. I put the book down well before I had planned. I will say that it has interesting facts about birth control, transportation, the plague, etc. arranged almost encyclopedically. I am still plugging away at it though, I just read several mysteries last wek and stayed up till the early morning. Now I need to catch up on my sleep.