🖐🏻 The Book in Three Sentences
The ideas and knowledge from Ancient Greece have influenced European civilisations in one way or another ever since their inception.
Christianity has affected governance across Europe over the past two millennia.
Modern-day political beliefs are founded in the changes to society since the Renaissance.
This book is a great read. Its tagline is that you can read it in an afternoon, which I think is a little ambitious as it took me a couple of years (on and off). However, this is an excellent overview of European history and how the different histories of Europe combine and relate to each other. It fills in the gaps from the normal Anglo-centric approach to teaching history in a concise and digestible manner.
📖 Who Should Read It?
The book is written for anyone who is interested in history. I think it's particularly useful for teachers wanting to build their subject knowledge of the 'big picture' of European history, because of the way in which Hirst presents the relationships between the three big players of Ancient Greece, the Christian Church, and the Germanic people. The book makes some relationships obvious and leaves others for the reader to infer, but this adds to the enjoyment of reading. It'd be valuable to anyone who wants to 'fill in the gaps' of what happened in Europe between the Roman departure from Britain and the beginning of WW1.
I would definitely recommend buying this book.
🍕 Actionable Takeaways
I feel I have a much stronger overview of how the different parts of European history fit together.
I now understand how the different political systems in the UK, France and Germany reflect the development of government in each country.
I also now understand how the organisation of societies - notably between the land-owning class and the working class - have fundamentally shaped European history and politics.
I have a much deeper understanding of how Christianity shaped the development of Europe.
As a teacher, I feel more able to emphasise the key components of different topics such as the Ancient Greeks and Anglo-Saxon settlement.
💬 Top Parts that Resonated
The origins of Ancient Greek understanding and their quest to learn about the world.
How the Christian church adopted
How the growth of workers' rights in the 1800s influenced the inception of communism and how this shaped history in the 20th century.