Reflections by Students

“Mak does a fantastic job of telling the history of modern Europe through the voices of its people. The stories and experiences of the men and women who made Europe what it is today, and brought it through the hardships of the 20th century are what propelled the novel and brought it to life. Altogether, a fascinating read.”

“This blog was able to take me back in time and look at parts of the world I had not seen before. I was able to see how one event could affect so many people and how it changed society. The way people through-out the twentieth century protested and fought for what they believed in is inspiring.”

“Having traveled with Mak through the tumultuous twentieth century I can see how one could be pessimistic about the future of Europe in the twenty-first. But despite the hardships and challenges Europe needs to overcome, as long as there are still people willing to struggle for the dream of a peaceful and prosperous Europe, like the millions that rose up all over Eastern Europe to peacefully protest for freedoms in 1989, then I will remain optimistic for not only the future of Europe but the world as well.”

“Mak manages to highlight a hundred years of European history in the pages of a single book. He not only provides a broad view of events but also the individual stories of some of the people that lived through them.”

“Though Mak had some flaws in regards to his descriptions of women and of Eastern Europe, his anecdotes provided a refreshing way to view recent European history, a welcome contrast to dry academic texts. The 20th century was one of idealism lost: war and genocide quickly quashed hopes for a peaceful and prosperous century. At the same time, the 20th century was a century of individual empowerment, with student-led protests and peaceful demonstrations enacting powerful change in the 1960s and 1980s. Despite the bleak outlook painted by violence between nations and ethnicities, hope can be found in the courage of individuals who desire change.”

“It was an insightful journey through through the experiences and trials of Europe. Though there are complaints, one must keep in mind that this journey was described through the prism of one man with his own insights, views, and interests.”

“Throughout the book, Mak paints an interesting picture of Europe throughout the twentieth century. While his view may be slanted, which he does admit, information from Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union was particularly interesting as it is often overlooked. Even with it’s flaws, the book is certainly worth reading.”

“Mak’s book was an interesting read. There were stories to go with it, giving the history of recent Europe a bit more of a spice. Much better than reading out of a textbook, while there are issues with the bias that was clearly seen i the book. One must keep in mind that it was only Mak’s point of view, which is to be expected when anyone writes such a book”

“Learning from those that experienced the great events of Europe in the twentieth century from personal accounts is one of the best ways to connect with the history. One is able to better understand what these events mean for the everyday person that experiences them. In Europe does this excellently through the personal stories that Geert Mak uses throughout the book, making for an enjoyable read.”

In Europe, is full of historical facts and personal anecdotes alike. The history is there but is not dry, the book is full of his opinions as well as opinions of others who may have experience the particular event. Mak is a journalist not a historian and that must be taken into account when reading his book.”

“Traveling through Europe through the eyes of Geert Mak was interesting. In Europe gave a different approach to history by providing personal stories from locals living in Europe at the time, allowing the reader to formulate a personal opinion of all the major events in the history of 20th century Europe.”

“Traveling through 20th century with Geert Mak was enjoyable and intellectual experience.  Mak’s skill of incorporating personal stories with the large scale politics of the time allows the reader to have semi-personal experience with recent European history.  Although Mak become somewhat disoriented after 1945, his book In Europe is worth reading.”

“Geert Mak offers an interesting view of the history of 20th century in Europe. Because he is a journalist, his travels through history are intertwined with personal anecdotes from people he meets along the way. Whether these anecdotes are relevant or interesting is solely up to the reader. Despite the fact that Mak is clearly heavy-handed on history before the end of World War II and has an obvious bias for “Western” perspectives, this book is still an interesting read which will enlighten budding historians to the importance of the individual in shaping history.”

“Travelling Europe with Geert Mak throughout the 20th century was an interesting adventure.  As a journalist, not a historian, Mak tells the stories of Europe throughout the century and how it shaped and changed people’s lives.  These small little stories throughout the book that a journalist would see as interesting kept the reader moving along though history instead of becoming bored with information one has heard before.”

“In his book, Geert Mak offers a comprehensive description of the effects of World War I and World War II in European development. His combination of historical and anecdotal information offers a unique approach to the study of European history- regardless of the fact that his focus on the effects of the World Wars neglects certain critical factors that also played a role in the development of post-war Europe. In Europe offers a unique insight not long of the effects of war on Europe but of the ways in which this history is understood in the twenty-first century.”

“As someone trying to write history, Mak sometimes leaves much to be desired, but nevertheless his anecdotes pull one in and let the reader experience the cities he travels to, both in the past and the present. Although rather flowery, the last sentence of his prologue perfectly reflects what he attempts to share through his book, In Europe: “The stories [of the twentieth century] will continue to make the rounds in whispers, generation after generation, the countless experiences and dreams, the moments of courage and betrayal, the memories full of fear and pain, the images of joy” (xvi).”

“Reading through Mak’s experiences in Europe has made me want to travel abroad and see Europe through my own eyes. However fun his side stories were to read over and over again throughout all of the chapters, it was interesting to see all of the different types of people that live in Europe. Maybe as I tour Europe i’ll write my own log of where I go and the random people I interview!”

“Geert Mak’s travels through Europe encompass a vast amount of material and endeavors to paints a cohesive picture of the history of the 20th century. An ambitious undertaking  filled with anecdotes and first hand accounts that nicely portray the complexities of the century.”

“As someone who has only been to the U.K. and at a very young age, Geert Mak’s travels through Europe not only allow for a history lesson, but also allows the reader to travel through Europe in Mak’s eyes. Though words can only do so much, Mak uses his well to show the changes that occur to Europe throughout the 20th century. Mak is a journalist who is attempting to write like a historian, and he does a good job of using personal anecdotes to show his travels through the 20th century.”

“Through the “proxy experience” set up of the book, Mak cleverly takes readers on a unique journey that differs from the traditional history textbook. This particular journey offers anecdotal stories from those who had their feet planted on the ground during the occuramces of the events he covers and this offers a proxy experience as readers can see what the storytellers saw and feel what they felt. In summary, Mak’s book offers a paradigm that allows readers to relive history in a profound way.”

“In 16 weeks we traveled 100 years through Europe.  Following Mak and his travels through Europe we vicariously traveled with him.  We end with a hopeful idea that Europe in the 21st century will be a brighter one than the previous 100 years but sadly, only time will tell.”

“As Mak has stated, “Europe only has one chance”. This “one chance” that Mak is speaking of is the European Union and its essential role in bringing Europe into a situation where they can work together and make decisions as a whole. In our travels through Europe we enter the 21st century with a hopeful outlook on the European Union. Although already, Europe is off to a quick start in arguing over even the most simple of things; like the “E” symbol and who created it. Arthur Eisenmenger is fighting for a simple recognition of creating the sign but there is already controversy over the issue. As hopeful as we may be for success of the European Union, it is easy to see that the arguing and disagreement is already off to a quick start.”

“And just like that, we have made it through Europe. With the help of Mak, we have shown the other side of history, a more personal side. Not just what you see in textbooks, but In Europe showed history has another side that belonged to villages and people just like you and I with great stories to tell.”

“The 19th century started in violence and ended in violence. Mak gives us a way to travel though these turbulent times though the perspective of everyday people and their stories, which makes the reader more in-tuned with the conflicts of the 19th century.”

“Mak not only focuses on the events that took place in European history, but uses his experience as a journalist to interact with the locals and incorporate their anecdotes into his documented travels. The author writes, “Europe, as I saw in the course of that year, is a continent in which one can easily travel back and forth through time.” The text, In Europe focuses on how the historical events of the 20th century affect Europeans in the modern world.”

“Mak’s travels throughout Europe, in conjunction with The Magic Lantern and Survival in Auschwitz gave interesting perspective on some of the most important events that occurred in Europe during the 20th century. The personal accounts made the stories real, not just another text of history. It is important to understand that history is not a study. History is being lived by everyday people.”

“As we traveled through Europe with Mak, we began to envision history through the stories that Mak talked about. These stories were very personal to some since they told of personal experiences during these time frames and it is with these stories that this book differs from normal textbooks.”

“Traveling through the History of Europe with Mak, as well as the other writers and directors, served to remind us that history is more than just dates and events. History is people and stories, it is about the way those people reacted to the events. That is important to remember when we look back.”

“As we travelled through Europe with Mak, the journey became filled with more stories from people that Mak met. The stories they provided painted complex pictures of the history Mak was relaying to his readers and made his book more enjoyable.”