Europe Between the Oceans by Barry Cunliffe


Europe dominated the world during the course of the second millennium CE, this domination came in the form of arts and sciences. The influence of Europe came from the mobility of its people. It only took a few centuries for the world to come under the influence of European culture.

This book doesn’t look at this time in European history but rather at the time it took to get there. The book looks at the period of history (and pre-history) from 9000 BCE to the end of the first millennium CE, at the time when the states of Europe familiar to us today began to emerge.

The author is emphasizing the fact that geography of the European peninsula had a huge effect on the way human population there developed. He also emphasizes the human factor; how competitive and curious they are and yet they are also conservative. He also discusses the interactions of the different human groups with their environment and each other.

In chapter one the author lays the foundation for his book by explaining the concepts of space, time and human interaction from the point of view of archeologists and historians as well as geographers through time. The author uses archeology, classical texts, dendrochronology, and weather as his resources for this book.

I think the beauty of this book is in the fact that it is written in a way that anyone picking it up will benefit from it. Whether you were a historian, archeologist, scientist or just someone interested in Europe there is something in there for every one. You don’t just know the history you also know the WHY of it. Its a must read for anyone researching European history. What I value the most about this book is the abundant maps that help you visualize what the author is talking about and the further reading section at the end of the book. I absolutely enjoyed reading this book slowly and savoring all the information presented in it.

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4 thoughts on “Europe Between the Oceans by Barry Cunliffe

  1. Simian says:

    Ok, so I know you wrote this review quite a long time ago but….

    My wife and I decided to take a trip to the bookstore last night, just to get out of the house for a bit. I went to my usual section “History”. What of course jumped right out at me? Between the Oceans! I immediately thought of this review and how you have referenced it elsewhere. Of course, I had to purchase it. By time we left the bookstore and ate dinner and got the kids settled into bed it was pretty late so I haven’t done much actual reading yet. I did browse through pretty thoroughly and I am so excited to read it. It will not only be a “good” read but a great reference as well.

    Thank you for your review, without it I probably would not have picked it up and instead grabbed one of the many other books I found appealing!

  2. Dafydd says:

    This book is right at the top of my wishlist. I’m currently reading my way through Prof. Cunliffe’s Iron Age Communities in Britain, so Europe Between the Oceans will have to wait. Still, this looks like a great book. Is it similar to Facing the Ocean? I can’t seem to find a copy of that book anywhere, but Europe Between the Oceans seems readily available. Both books sound similar – which do you think is best?

    • celticscholar says:

      Well, Facing the Ocean is specific, Europe Between the Oceans covers everything in Europe. They are pretty similar really so if you want a full picture get Europe between the Oceans.

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