|* * * Do NOT buy hardcover version! * * *|
Text-part to be used together with a different atlas. (e.g. "Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, by P. R. Magocsi or Cartographia's "Történelmi Világatlasz" (in Hungarian))
When I first discovered this atlas I thought: "At last a specific work on the topic in English!".
Well, despite the range of the maps - 52, listed at the end of the review - it was a disappointment.
First: As all ready pointed out bellow by fellow reviewers, the actual Eastern Europe - Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine - is only dealt with on the periphery. This is actually an atlas of East-Central Europe and the Balkans.
Second: The mentality of the text sometimes. "Nationalist", is one of the much preferred word used by the author, especially when dealing with newer history. The difference between "nationalism" and "patriotism" is apparently very subjective.
Third: The two first points could be something one could deal with - since a wrong title does not necessarily mean bad quality, and the book is aimed for US public - but now comes the greatest disadvantage about this work: The maps themselves. They can at best be described as of "average" quality, but words like "perfunctory" or "sloppy" could be used as well. There is no excuse for the roughness and distortion of state boundaries, the lack of rivers and cities/towns. And the actual errors to them have yet to be mentioned.
All in all, the map part of this atlas is suitable for very low-level studies of the area only, likely as a picture book for kids (and/or journalists) and the text for high-school studies. It must be mentioned that the author makes a honest attempt to be objective in the history telling, by sometimes presenting several versions/views on the same event, BUT I am sure that this still won't satisfy everybody.
A last remark: This volume shares 14 - or 1/3 - out of it's 52 maps with the "Historical Atlas of the Balkans" from the same series. (Nos. (4), 10, 16, 17, 18, 22, 24, 32, 36, 38, 39, 45, 46, 51 and 52, as observed by the author of these lines.)
1: Eastern Europe - Political, 2001
2: Eastern Europe - Physical
3: Eastern Europe - Demographic
4: Eastern Europe - Cultural
5: The Division of the Roman Empire, Late 3rd Century
6: The Barbarian Migrations, 4th-6th Centuries
7: The East Roman Empire under Justinian I, Mid-6th Century
8: Slavic and Turkic Invasions, 6th-8th Centuries
9: Eastern Europe, Mid-9th Century
10: The Rise of Bulgaria, 8th-10th Centuries
11: Constantinople, 10th-12th Centuries
12: The Balkans, Early 11th Century
13: The Rise of Hungary, 10th-13th Centuries
14: The Rise of Poland, 10th-13th Centuries
15: Eastern Europe, Mid-11th Century
16: The Balkans, Late 12th Century
17: The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1214
18: The Rise of Serbia, 13th-14th Centuries
19: Eastern Europe, Mid-13th Century
20: Eastern Europe, Mis-14the Century
21: Prague, Mid-14th-15th Centuries
22: The Rise of the Ottoman Empire, 13th-15th Centuries
23: The Expansion of Poland, 14th-15th Centuries
24: Apex of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, Mid-16th Century
25: Istanbul, 16th-17th Century
26: Apex and Decline of Poland, 16th-17th Centuries
27: The Rise of the Habsburgs, 16th-17th Centuries
28: Ottoman Decline, 17th-18th Centuries
29: The Partitions of Poland, 1772-1795
30: Eastern Europe, 1809
31: Eastern Europe, 1815
32: The Balkans after the Serb and Greek Revolutions, 1830
33: Revolutions in the Austrian Empire, 1848-1849
34: The Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich, 1867
35: The Balkans, 1878-1885
36: The Macedonian Question
37: The Balkans, 1908
38: Bosnia-Hercegovina, 1908-1914
39: The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913
40: Eastern Europe, 1914
41: Eastern Europe During World War I
42: Eastern Europe, 1923
43: Independent Poland, 1920-1922
44: Hungary after Trianon, 1920-1939
45: Romania after Trianon, 1920-1938
46: The Transylvanian Question
47: Versailles-Created Yugoslavia, 1921-1941
48: Czechoslovakia and Munich, 1920-1939
49: Eastern Europe During World War II, 1938-1944
50: Eastern Europe, 1948-1991
51: Wars of Yugoslav Succession, 1991-1995
52: The Kosovo Crisis, 1999
Review based on First paperback September 2001 edition.
|As the first new atlas of Eastern Europe of the new millenium, it is highly disappointing to see that this work has chosen to arbitrarily fix the eastern limits of Eastern Europe at the present-day eastern border of NATO, and leave out the "backward" lands of the former "evil empire". It is interesting to observe how people can at times discuss "European Russia" as ending at the Ural Mountains, but when it suits them feel no qualms about conveniently leaving this area out, because after all "nothing important goes on there anyway". This is just the perpetuation of long-held Western European biases about Eastern Europe (read "Slavs in the Eyes of the Occident" by Ciesla-Korytowska or "Infidels, Turks and Women: The South Slavs in the German Mind, Ca. 1400-1600" by Petkov for starters) which have been further reinforced by decades of the Cold War.|
While Paul Robert Magocsi's excellent atlas also stopped short of including the eastern half of Eastern Europe (probably because he wanted us to buy his already-existing tome "Historical Atlas of Ukraine"), at least it was aptly titled "Historical Atlas of East Central Europe". This book's title is misleading to say the least.
One could make a case that the author wished to confine the coverage due to the complexity of the limited area he did cover. However, since the same author has also recently produced "The Palgrave Concise Historical Atlas of the Balkans", one wonders just how much more valuable this work is made by simply expanding the scope to include Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia (and perhaps parts of Hungary and Romania?)
While a good job was done on the part of Eastern Europe covered, this book would have been twice as useful with the other half of Eastern Europe included as well. Thus people wanting to study the migrations of peoples such as the Hungarians and Bulgarians (or the Goths in the opposite direction), or invading threats to Europe such as the Avars or the Golden Horde will yet again be forced to buy two atlases and attempt to piece the picture together.
Also, what is believed to be the area of the formation of the Slavs lies across modern-day boundaries between Poland, Ukraine and Byelorus, and adequate coverage of this topic would seem impossible given the book's limitations.
It is unfortunate that despite all the progress made in the last decade, Europe can still not be seen in anything but terms of its recent political divisions. This cannot help but greatly impede our understanding of the past.