"This book is a very good example of a favorite nonfiction genre of mine—an exact blend of history and 'travel literature'. The author, a Dutch journalist, had the clever idea of writing about significant events at a given place and time — Vienna in 1914, Spain in the 1930s, Auschwitz in 1942—and then visiting the sites himself, reporting what he found there today, and speaking to locals about the past. Finally he wove it all together into a chronological narrative telling a history of the century. It works brilliantly and is often very moving as well. I love this book."
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.