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Thursday, June 26, 2014

“The Baltic: A History of the Region and its People”, by Alan Palmer

448 pages, Overlook Press, ISBN-13: 978-1585674466

In this long-needed history of the peoples and nations surrounding the Baltic Sea, we pass through the legendary castles of Elsinore and Halsingborg to enter a unique landscape and culture. Alan Palmer traces the history of the Baltic region from its early Viking days and its time under the Byzantine Empire through its medieval prime when the Baltic Sea served as one of Europe’s central trading grounds. Palmer addresses both the strong nationalist sentiments that have driven Baltic culture and the early attempts at Baltic unification by Sweden and Russia. The Baltic also dissects the politics and culture of the region in the 20th Century, when it played multiple historic roles: it was the Eastern Front in the First World War; the setting of early uprisings in the Russian Revolution; a land occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War; and, until very recently, a region dominated by the Soviets.

With his deep knowledge of European history, Alan Palmer is the ideal guide to the variety, intricacy and drama of Baltic history. The conflicts, customs and culture, as well as the personalities of this neglected region come to life in these pages. Any traveler to the Baltic will take this book and be both instructed and entertained by its broad, fast-flowing panorama. In the 21st Century, increasing attention has been focused on the Baltic States as they grow into their own in spite of growing neo-imperialist pressure from post-Soviet Russia, and Alan Palmer provides readers with a detailed history of the nations and peoples that are now poised to emerge as some of Europe’s most vital democracies.

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