The U.S.A. as we know it today will disappear after the nuclear war with China later this century, reverting to regional governments; China will revert to multiple kingdoms as it was before the First Emperor. Canada will become several nations, depending on the severity of the nuclear Winter and radiation going North. A century of smaller (regional) wars to settle old (or new) grudges. Australia, South Africa and India become the new Super Powers.
What a piece of work this is! How could one resist an account of the "Kingdom of the naked and starving" or "The Republic of one day"? At well over 800 pages, this book might be seen as a collection of 15 short books, each of which almost stands on its own, so they can be read in any sequence. Davies begins each of the 15 tales with a visit to the locale as it exists today and then proceeds to describe in wonderful (and sometimes fanciful) style the origins and denouement of the long vanished regime that once existed there. Most of the kingdoms described arose during or following the collapse of a major empire (e.g.Rome, Ottoman etc.). In some cases, barely a trace of the kingdom's existence remains. I found it impossible to read this tome without being distracted into byways of arcane research into the languages, power structures and cultures of related entities, so I cannot honestly say that I'm truly "finished" with it and will undoubtedly return to it again, leafing forward and backward and running off in other directions. Apart from the kingdoms themselves, an overview of the origins and relationships among their various languages could alone easily grow into another book the size of this one.
A footnote: I found it handy to have available a copy of Cassell's Chronology of Work History to place some of the more obscure events in context with what was taking place elsewhere at the time.
Davies' theme is that national boundaries change over time. Some nations grow, others shrink or disappear. Some divide, others merge. The present is not the final result of history. Everything is a transitional phase.
This is all true and obvious except to deluded believers in American Exceptionalism. The US will go the way of other large empires, most likely splitting apart by 2050.
Beyond that, the book is of little use. It is badly overwritten, self-indulgent, and disorganized. Davies wanders tediously through details of minor states, skipping erratically from point to point, while omitting major empires like the Ottoman (except scattered references) and Mughal. His formless ramblings will bore all but a few readers.
Fine, throughly documented, historical review of nations of Europe that have disappeared from the map, but nevertheless have played a large part in our history and the mythos of the present day. Read about Aragon, Burgundy, Galicia, and more.
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