Beneath Another Sky: A Global Journey into History

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Penguin UK, Dec 7, 2017 - History - 656 pages
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'He writes history like nobody else. He thinks like nobody else ... He sees the world as a whole, with its limitless fund of stories' Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

Where have the people in any particular place actually come from? What are the historical complexities in any particular place? This evocative historical journey around the world shows us.

'Human history is a tale not just of constant change but equally of perpetual locomotion', writes Norman Davies. Throughout the ages, men and women have endlessly sought the greener side of the hill. Their migrations, collisions, conquests and interactions have given rise to the spectacular profusion of cultures, races, languages and polities that now proliferates on every continent.

This incessant restlessness inspired Davies's own. After decades of writing about European history, and like Tennyson's ageing Ulysses longing for one last adventure, he embarked upon an extended journey that took him right round the world to a score of hitherto unfamiliar countries. His aims were to test his powers of observation and to revel in the exotic, but equally to encounter history in a new way. Beneath Another Sky is partly a historian's travelogue, partly a highly engaging exploration of events and personalities that have fashioned today's world - and entirely sui generis.

Davies's circumnavigation takes him to Baku, the Emirates, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Tasmania, Tahiti, Texas, Madeira and many places in between. At every stop, he not only describes the current scene but also excavates the layers of accumulated experience that underpin the present. He tramps round ancient temples and weird museums, summarises the complexity of Indian castes, Austronesian languages and Pacific explorations, delves into the fate of indigenous peoples and of a missing Malaysian airliner, reflects on cultural conflict in Cornwall, uncovers the Nazi origins of Frankfurt airport and lectures on imperialism in a desert oasis. 'Everything has its history', he writes, 'including the history of finding one's way or of getting lost.'

The personality of the author comes across strongly - wry, romantic, occasionally grumpy, but with an endless curiosity and appetite for knowledge. As always, Norman Davies watches the historical horizon as well as what is close at hand, and brilliantly complicates our view of the past.

 

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Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
The Golden Road
The Kingdom of Quonimorus
Flame Towers in the Land of Fire
Mountains of Money and Gulfs of Misunderstanding
Dalits Temples and Gun Salutes
Amuck or Amok at the Muddy Confluence
The Down Under of Down Under
Flightless Birds and Long White Clouds
The Hunt for Paradise in a Distant Land
Comanche Chicanos Frontiersmen Friends and Enemies
Delawares Dutchmen and Many Slaves
Sunwise and Withershins
Boarding Flying Crashing Vanishing and Landing
European History for Export

IslandCity of Lions and Tigers
Facing the Sunrise
Land of Creole and Dodo
Afterword
Illustrations
1
Notes Follow Penguin
89

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About the author (2017)

Norman Davies was for many years a professor at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London University. He is the author of the acclaimed Vanished Kingdoms and the number one bestseller Europe: A History. His previous books, which include Rising '44, The Isles: A History and God's Playground: A History of Poland, have been translated worldwide. He has researched at universities from Harvard to Hokkaido, and is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford, and a visiting scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

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