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Rick Steves' Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler Paperback – May 17 2007

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Rick Steves' Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler + Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door 2015: The Travel Skills Handbook + Rick Steves' Europe Map
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 1 edition (May 17 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566915163
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566915168
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Steves preaches a low-cost, low-to-the-ground style that not only saves money, but gets you closer to the real Europe, the way Europeans experience it"

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the way Rick Steves wrote the book and the subject matter he covered. I have been to Europe 5 times and he explains many ideas that are often referred to as you tour different buildings and museums. Very helpful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book delivered what it said it would. It's not a textbook. It's informative, fairly light, enjoyable reading for those of us who enjoy the planning of a trip as much as the actual trip.
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By Kristen on Nov. 17 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's getting me all prepped and ready for my trip! Easy to read and understand and filled with interesting stuff! I definitely recommend it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 61 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Fizzles out towards the end, but 9/10ths of the book is superb Oct. 8 2012
By D - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If your looking for a quick orientation history of Europe, this book will do the trick. Just as Rick explains in the book's intro and description, it is oriented towards the traveler. I read this before a three week tour of Europe and am so glad I did- it gave me a working knowledge of the basics of European history, providing a framework in which to understand the significance and history of what I was seeing on my tour. Well written, with just enough humor to keep it interesting. I would recommend it to anyone looking to brush up on their European history! It does fizzle out at the end, particularly the second half of the 20th century. The last chapter, on Europe today, isn't worth reading. But the rest of the book is EXCELLENT!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
You should Buy it!! June 9 2007
By Katrina M. Mongeon - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was searching for a book like this for months. Already a fan of Rick Steves, I picked this book up and was more than happy with my purchase. This is a fantastic book to learn history or to learn about art. I used it to read while traveling Europe, but would read it as a leisure read as well. The photos are impressive, but more impressive are the diagrams and timelines to help meld it all together.
29 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Better, with great pictures, but why lie for Lenin? Nov. 3 2013
By LesLein - Published on
Format: Paperback
Authors Rick Steves and Gene Openshaw overhauled the previous edition of Europe 101. It is much better (it would have to be). It does a good job relating historical chronology to travel destinations. The historical discussion is more thorough. There are gorgeous color photos of historical sites and artwork. Also valuable are the short bios of well-known artists. The authors provide good explanations and photographs of different styles in art and architecture.

The biggest improvements are the deletions. Many of the factual errors, omissions, and attempts at indoctrination in previous editions are gone. The authors removed the dreadful essay "Whose Story is History?" The authors no longer claim that Algeria had a 90 percent literacy rate before French colonization. The authors dropped the claim that slavery fueled the industrial revolution. There is no whining about Washington crossing the Delaware. The authors never responded to reviews criticizing this essay. Its removal vindicates the critics.

Unfortunately, the authors still reveal a bias towards socialism. Most of the errors are of omission. For example, the authors give socialists credit for labor unions and ending child labor. They play down the fact that socialists gave us boat people, mass starvation, the gulag, and multiple cases of genocide. The discussion of the Spanish Civil War omits the fact by the time it was over Josef Stalin entirely controlled the Republican side. The discussion of this tragic conflict is completely one sided. They should read Hugh Thomas, Stanley Payne, or George Orwell before preparing the next edition.

One inexplicable factual error is the claim that Lenin's "October Revolution" overthrew the Czar. The "February Revolution" overthrew the Czar in 1917. Lenin was in Switzerland during that time. The Czar's abdication caught Lenin completely by surprise. Repeating this error may be an act of willful ignorance.

While giving Lenin undeserved credit, the authors deny his responsibility for instituting totalitarianism in Russia, saying that Stalin instituted totalitarian's iron rule. Lenin created Russia's police state. Lenin abolished private property. Lenin ended a nascent democracy. Lenin initiated slave labor camps. Stalin expanded on what Lenin created. Leftists often blame Stalin and other rulers personally for Marxism's many disasters. They prefer not to face Marxism's inherent flaws.

The book has milder biases in favor of milder forms of socialism. The authors acknowledge that America has more income, but claim that Europe has a higher quality of life. In some areas, this is true. Europe has better mass transit; a more relaxed pace; a stronger currency; and better food. However, when it comes to overall standard of living, America ranks much higher. In 2004, Swedish researchers concluded that if the European Union were ranked as a single American state, its economic output per person would be fifth from the bottom. Only Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia, and Mississippi ranked lower. The gap is growing. It is hard to believe that this wide disparity in economic production doesn't affect the relative quality of life. It is no coincidence that as America becomes more like Europe our standard of living is slipping.

This confusion applies to discussion of health care as well. The authors conflate the availability of health insurance with the quality and availability of health care. Despite having health insurance Britons often wait for months in pain for operations that are routine in America. Britain's lack of hospital beds is a frequent topic when the Prime Minister appears before Parliament. A few years ago, thousands died because the French health care system could not respond to a heat wave. A Russian male born in the year 2000 has a life expectancy of 59 years. Adjusting for gun violence and car accidents, America has the highest life expectancy.

While we should all celebrate Europe's peace and prosperity, we should keep in mind that America made it possible. America bailed out Europe in two World Wars. America provided the money to rebuild Europe. America spent a fortune and risked its survival to protect Europe during the Cold War. If Americans often take European advice with a grain of sale, it is because we remember this history. Americans also keep in mind that it was Europe that created various failed socialist ideologies such as communism and Nazism.

Europe can only fund its elaborate welfare states because America has long paid an inordinate share of Europe's defense burden. The authors write that Europe was "caught between two superpowers" with nuclear weapons during the Cold War. In fact, the Cold War started because one European country, the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Europe and threatened Western Europe. Europeans wanted American military protection (including nuclear missiles).

When it comes to the West's victory in the Cold War, the authors still refuse to give credit where it's due. Gorbachev ended the Cold War in the sense that he presided over his side's defeat. The authors' claims about Gorbachev's popularity are undermined by the fact that when he actually condescended to run for office, he received less than one percent of the vote.

Despite these and other flaws, this edition is a vast improvement over its predecessors. Again, that is not much of a compliment. It's not a Rick Steves' book without propaganda and historical errors. I hope that in future editions the authors will continue to redeem themselves.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Art and History of Europe Oct. 16 2008
By Gary J. Kaplowitz - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a great little tour guide to the art and history of Europe. The author -- Rick Steves -- a well known tour guide describes the art and history of Europe in plain language which is easy to read and understand. He does not waste words and gets right to the heart of the matter. He also tells you which museums have great collections and mentions specific works of art that he particularly likes or recommends. He does an excellent job putting the works of art into perspective.
He describes European history in brief but informative sketches and focuses on the main events and memorable historical figures. This is all done with great brevity as is necessary for a short but comprehensive view of the many rich historical periods in Europe.
This compact survey of the art and history of Europe is an invaluable resource.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Rick Steves' Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler July 30 2007
By Teresa J Soldavini - Published on
Format: Paperback
I love reading the Rick Steves' travel books and was very pleasantly surprised by my new understanding of European History and how it relates to art after reading this book. Rick Steves puts everything into perspective and connects art and history in a clear and concise manner. As someone who didn't appreciate European History as a student, I have found this book to be a great tool to re-educate myself and feel I now have a better understanding of the art I will see while traveling in Europe!

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