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The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815

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  • Posted December 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Inadequate and Poor Scholarship

    OK--Europe from 1648 to 1815: One of the most significant developments during this period was the Emancipation of the Jews. The German pricipalities, the Hapsburg Empire followed the lead of France's Napoleon in beginning to permit their Jewish citizens to: (1) live outside of a specially designated Ghetto, (2) testify in a Court of Law, (3) Bring an action in a Court, (4) and own property. Not all the political units passed these tolerance patents at the same time, but by 1815 many areas had eliminated at least some of political disenfranchisements of the Jews. Not one word about this in Blanning's entire book? In the index, "Jews" gets four references, all of which are mere asides, in discussing other matters. I was reminded of how history used to be written in the 1950s, when all minority racial and ethnic groups were ignored. Geoffrey Barraclough's The Origins of Modern Germany, which was a standard text on medieval German history for at least twenty years, surveying Germany from AD 800 to about 1600, does not mention Jews once. When I read the book 25 years ago, I was astonished. But, that was how history was written; dismissal and ignorance of Jewish people; not anti-Semitism was the root cause. But in 2012, there is no excuse whatsoever for any respected scholar to turn out a text like this, even with the constraints of a reasonable survey volume. A few paragraphs here and there might have been sufficient, if they were well-drafted. In contrast, look at Harvard's David Blackbourn's The Long Nineteenth Century, a history of Germany. It devotes a few pages to the Jews a number of times, in a number of contexts. While I do not necessarily question Prof. Blanning's scholarly credentials, this represents a major lacuna, and I wonder how many others the book may contain. Does the book adequately cover the liberation of Hungary from the Ottoman Muslims? This is a most significant event during this period, as the threat to European Christendom was repelled, and the Siege of Vienna in 1683. Very disappointing, unfortunately. Allen Roth

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