A Sunday Times History Book of the Year 2019
Shortlisted for The Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award
‘No Briton has written better than Winder about Europe’ – Sunday Times
In AD 843, the three surviving grandsons of the great Emperor Charlemagne met at Verdun. After years of bitter squabbles over who would inherit the family land, they finally decided to divide the territory and go their separate ways. In a moment of staggering significance, one grandson inherited what became France, another Germany and the third Lotharingia: the chunk that initially divided the other two. The dynamic between these three great zones has dictated much of our subsequent fate.
In this beguiling, hilarious and compelling book we retrace how both from west and from east any number of ambitious characters have tried and failed to grapple with these Lotharingians, who ultimately became Dutch, German, Belgian, French, Luxembourgers and Swiss. Over many centuries, not only has Lotharingia brought forth many of Europe’s greatest artists, inventors and thinkers, but it has also reduced many a would-be conqueror to helpless tears of rage and frustration. Joining Germania and Danubia in Simon Winder’s endlessly fascinating retelling of European history, Lotharingia is a personal, wonderful and gripping story.
It's not so much history, as a long cultural tour, led by a brilliantly witty guide . . . There are a great many jokes and irreverent hoots, in case everything gets too earnest . . . -- Neal Ascherson, The New York Review of Books A heady blend of jolly travel stories, weird German aristocrats, obscure baroque altarpieces and horrendous sectarian massacres. There are plenty of serious points here, but Winder never forgets that history is meant to be fun -- Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times, Best History Books of the year 2019 Brings to mind PJ O'Rourke's Holidays in Hell or anything by Bill Bryson -- Gerard DeGroot * The Times * The high plateau of my year was my catching up with Simon Winder. Danubia and Germania are an idiosyncratic, often funny fusion of history writing, travel writing and disrespect -- Sir Tom Stoppard * TLS * Winder looks afresh at the long arc of European history, with its perpetual interplay between defiant local units and grandiose attempts at unifying schemes -- Stephen Moss * Guardian * Simon Winder has created a genre all of his own, the history-travelogue-memoir, which he uses adeptly to explore the hinterlands between France and Germany and their centuries of dynasties, discord and discontent . . . -- Judith Flanders, author of The Victorian House and Christmas: A Biography There is so much fascinating detail in this book that it is hard to put down . . . -- Michael Burleigh, author of The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: A History of Now Weird and wonderful . . . No Briton has written better than Winder about Europe -- Daniel Johnson * Sunday Times * Winder is our guide with delicious festive wit, and equal erudition -- Diarmaid MacCulloch * Tablet * A master of the art of making history both funny and fun . . . Once again he brings Germany bouncing back to life -- Simon Jenkins, author of A Short History of Europe
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