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Rick Steves' Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler

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Now in full-color comes a witty and engaging look at Europe's history and art, from America's European travel expert, Rick Steves. Rick Steves' Europe 101 helps you make the most of your sightseeing. A fun but informative guide, this "professor in your pocket" features chronologically organized chapters-from the pyramids to Picasso-that explain the forces behind Europe's mo Now in full-color comes a witty and engaging look at Europe's history and art, from America's European travel expert, Rick Steves. Rick Steves' Europe 101 helps you make the most of your sightseeing. A fun but informative guide, this "professor in your pocket" features chronologically organized chapters-from the pyramids to Picasso-that explain the forces behind Europe's most important cultural and artistic periods. Other features include handy lists of sights that allow you to link your newly acquired knowledge with the specific paintings, sculptures, and buildings you'll see on your trip, a humorous, readable style that is a joy to read compared with the history textbooks you slept on in school, and timelines, maps, drawings, and photos that illustrate Europe's story and round out your education.


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Now in full-color comes a witty and engaging look at Europe's history and art, from America's European travel expert, Rick Steves. Rick Steves' Europe 101 helps you make the most of your sightseeing. A fun but informative guide, this "professor in your pocket" features chronologically organized chapters-from the pyramids to Picasso-that explain the forces behind Europe's mo Now in full-color comes a witty and engaging look at Europe's history and art, from America's European travel expert, Rick Steves. Rick Steves' Europe 101 helps you make the most of your sightseeing. A fun but informative guide, this "professor in your pocket" features chronologically organized chapters-from the pyramids to Picasso-that explain the forces behind Europe's most important cultural and artistic periods. Other features include handy lists of sights that allow you to link your newly acquired knowledge with the specific paintings, sculptures, and buildings you'll see on your trip, a humorous, readable style that is a joy to read compared with the history textbooks you slept on in school, and timelines, maps, drawings, and photos that illustrate Europe's story and round out your education.

30 review for Rick Steves' Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    This book should be required reading for all Americans who travel to Europe. (Or for Europeans who are travelling, for that matter). It somehow manages to give you a complete rundown of the history of Western Civilization in a mere 333 pages. Not to mention that it's a very fun book to read. There's no way that either History or Art could be boring, with Rick Steves explaining them to you. He does a good job of somehow summing up 5,000 years of history and manages to be just a bit irreverent thro This book should be required reading for all Americans who travel to Europe. (Or for Europeans who are travelling, for that matter). It somehow manages to give you a complete rundown of the history of Western Civilization in a mere 333 pages. Not to mention that it's a very fun book to read. There's no way that either History or Art could be boring, with Rick Steves explaining them to you. He does a good job of somehow summing up 5,000 years of history and manages to be just a bit irreverent throughout. But he also presents all the essential details of history, starting with Ancient Greece and continuing through Modern History. Even without any European trips planned, this is a great armchair book--for anyone who is interested in learning a bit more about European History or Art. I especially enjoyed the little 'tangent' in the book of the book entitled "Whose Story Is History". Before ending this tour of Western Civilization, Steves points out that it's also possible to see history from the point of view of those who are crushed or oppressed by the march of progress.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Will Todd

    If you're traveling to Europe and, like me, were not well schooled in its History and Art... ...then this book is just what the doctor (of philosophy) ordered! This is not some stuffy Art History tome. It presents a light, entertaining, and easily digested helping of background to enhance your European Experience. This was the perfect accompaniment to my first backpacking trip to Europe. It helped me appreciate what I was seeing by orders of magnitude. HIGHLY recommended. If you're traveling to Europe and, like me, were not well schooled in its History and Art... ...then this book is just what the doctor (of philosophy) ordered! This is not some stuffy Art History tome. It presents a light, entertaining, and easily digested helping of background to enhance your European Experience. This was the perfect accompaniment to my first backpacking trip to Europe. It helped me appreciate what I was seeing by orders of magnitude. HIGHLY recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Treasure

    This will take me awhile to plow through, but I really like it. It is worth reading with highlighter in hand. What a great book covering art and history from the beginning of time until now-- who needs a liberal arts education when you have this? :) It is great to finally read the textbook I wish I had back in high school and college. It will definitely direct my future trips to Europe!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kaia

    Amazing book written intelligently, not only for art lovers, but also for those who love travel for greater understanding of human history. As usual, Rick Steves does an excellent job of smart writing, simply written, and too the point with words we can easily comprehend. Great way of bringing art and history to life. Even though my favorite is art of the 19th century, I particularly enjoyed Chapter 11 on The 20th century. We have traveled throughout Europe on several occasions and my daughter w Amazing book written intelligently, not only for art lovers, but also for those who love travel for greater understanding of human history. As usual, Rick Steves does an excellent job of smart writing, simply written, and too the point with words we can easily comprehend. Great way of bringing art and history to life. Even though my favorite is art of the 19th century, I particularly enjoyed Chapter 11 on The 20th century. We have traveled throughout Europe on several occasions and my daughter was on site celebrating with the other young people when the Berlin wall came down. This chapter also helps Americans to understand European's values better.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    the ultimate "Cliff's Notes" on European history. the ultimate "Cliff's Notes" on European history.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

    great guide to understanding all that great art one happens upon on your visits throughout Europe

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daisy81

    Don't go to Europe without this! It totally helps you appreciate everything more and get more out of your trip. Don't go to Europe without this! It totally helps you appreciate everything more and get more out of your trip.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Very fun way to learn about European art and European history in general. Great for anyone about to take a trip to Europe

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bev Ordway

    Getting ready for my first trip to Europe. This was a great choice for travels to Europe.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Enjoying this quick and informative run through European history and art.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Awesome. I'm an art history major and this book is a great great refresher, providing context of the works before seeing them. Awesome. I'm an art history major and this book is a great great refresher, providing context of the works before seeing them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Fabulous easy to read summary!

  13. 4 out of 5

    J.R. Dodson

    The right balance of entertainment, deeper meaning, simplification and silliness for an extensive subject.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sammi Weyrauch

    I was surprised how good this was! For 500 pages and 5k years of history, it was so conversational and fun to read. I've loved refreshing my memory of history and art ahead of an upcoming trip to Europe. A must read for anyone traveling! I was surprised how good this was! For 500 pages and 5k years of history, it was so conversational and fun to read. I've loved refreshing my memory of history and art ahead of an upcoming trip to Europe. A must read for anyone traveling!

  15. 4 out of 5

    C

    It does what it says on the box - it tells you everything you need to know to appreciate Europe's sights, and nothing you don't. It's also a fun, fairly easy, read, with Steve's signature style, but with a much more complete understanding of art and history than is found in Steves' guide books. I really wish I'd read this before my first trip to Europe, but I was still able to appreciate it after having been to Europe a few times, it deepened my understanding of sights I love, and left me with a It does what it says on the box - it tells you everything you need to know to appreciate Europe's sights, and nothing you don't. It's also a fun, fairly easy, read, with Steve's signature style, but with a much more complete understanding of art and history than is found in Steves' guide books. I really wish I'd read this before my first trip to Europe, but I was still able to appreciate it after having been to Europe a few times, it deepened my understanding of sights I love, and left me with a list of sights to visit or revisit on future trips. I read the 1996 edition (which I picked up for next to nothing at a second hand store), the photos in it are extremely poor quality black and white, they're pretty much unusable, so I constantly had to reach for my phone to find better quality images online - if you hate having to do that, get a later edition

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aliya

    Art is a narrative of history; Rick Steves has championed the narration of history through art in this very readable tome. As a non-westerner and non-Christian, I was somewhat familiar with Christian themes and Graeco-Roman figures (both real and mythological) but it was all a big jumble; Rick created order within that topsy-turvy chronology. The book is very readable, and makes you quirk your lips quite a few times. Although read post-travel, (after my travels to Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece) Art is a narrative of history; Rick Steves has championed the narration of history through art in this very readable tome. As a non-westerner and non-Christian, I was somewhat familiar with Christian themes and Graeco-Roman figures (both real and mythological) but it was all a big jumble; Rick created order within that topsy-turvy chronology. The book is very readable, and makes you quirk your lips quite a few times. Although read post-travel, (after my travels to Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece) the accounts were engaging, and they made me relive my memories. The only notable Muslim mention is the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, which is a fourteenth century palace. Given that Spain downplays, and even excises Muslim history from it's official narrative, I suppose Steve's stance is understandable. Otherwise the European Dark ages, which he classifies as AD 500-1000, are the glory days of Spain, which brought advanced surgery, advanced astronomy, agricultural revolution, end of serfdom, musical instruments such as the lute, three course meals, modern hospitals, Arabic numerals, Algebra, Chemistry, schools, libraries, translations of Aristotle & Co., coffee, town planning and the wonder of wonders, the Arabian Nights to Europe. All this happened from 761-1050 AD. Overall, this is a five-star book! I vicariously enjoyed Parisian travel through it, and also relived beautiful memories of Mediterranean Europe through it. It was humbling to think that I had been to such monumental sights.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I've always been a science and math type of girl. I have an interest in art and history, but no patience for them. As such, this book was perfect for me. It gives a brief (500 page) history of Europe and its art from prehistoric times to today with lots of color photos and sidebars. I was very appreciative of the bit at the end which explained Christian themes and symbols and Greek and Roman mythology, which in just a few pages increased my understanding of the vast majority of European art. I h I've always been a science and math type of girl. I have an interest in art and history, but no patience for them. As such, this book was perfect for me. It gives a brief (500 page) history of Europe and its art from prehistoric times to today with lots of color photos and sidebars. I was very appreciative of the bit at the end which explained Christian themes and symbols and Greek and Roman mythology, which in just a few pages increased my understanding of the vast majority of European art. I happened to read this book while traveling through Europe on a Rick Steves' tour so every day I would see something and think "I just read about that!" or read something and think, "I just saw that!" which was pretty neat. Unfortunately, I was still sick of art and history by the time I finished reading this. The last chapter in this book is "Europe Today." It gave an interesting description of the EU, but I was a little annoyed because I felt it got a little to soapboxy at times. I enjoyed the way the entire book was sprinkled with humor, but sometimes it felt just a little bit too irreverent. Overall, I'm very glad I read this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Akshata

    What a fun way to learn European history! Rick and Gene write fluidly about 3000 years of European history, making this an entertaining read. Druids, medieval knights, renaissance men and scientists cavorting in the Age of Enlightenment come alive in these pages. Art, music and architecture is traced through the eras, giving us an insight into art evolution, and a framework to appreciate all that Europe offers its gawky travelers. Factually correct and narrated in brief, history majors might gaw What a fun way to learn European history! Rick and Gene write fluidly about 3000 years of European history, making this an entertaining read. Druids, medieval knights, renaissance men and scientists cavorting in the Age of Enlightenment come alive in these pages. Art, music and architecture is traced through the eras, giving us an insight into art evolution, and a framework to appreciate all that Europe offers its gawky travelers. Factually correct and narrated in brief, history majors might gawk at its summaries (he gives us a fair warning of the brievity at the start), but this is definitely what a layman needs to start on the journey to appreciating European history. So sure I'll return to it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nikky

    Europe 101 is a largely informative book even for the experienced traveler. Organized chronologically and mostly focused on art and architecture with an eye towards history, the book does a fairly good job of explaining the cultural roots of the continent. However, there are a couple of nits that can be off-putting. The book's humor can be somewhat hard to discern at points from historical fact, and often seems forced in nature. Additionally there's a heavy emphasis on the different periods and s Europe 101 is a largely informative book even for the experienced traveler. Organized chronologically and mostly focused on art and architecture with an eye towards history, the book does a fairly good job of explaining the cultural roots of the continent. However, there are a couple of nits that can be off-putting. The book's humor can be somewhat hard to discern at points from historical fact, and often seems forced in nature. Additionally there's a heavy emphasis on the different periods and styles of art, but the summary at the back, which seems to be intended as a quick reference, is largely lacking. (In the interest of full disclosure, at the time of writing this review I'm employed by Rick Steves' Europe)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donna Beckley

    A great book for those that love to travel to Europe and the first things they search out are the art galleries. An enjoyable read, the book starts with prehistoric Europe (40,000 - 8000BC) to the present. Each chapter discusses a new historical period. What happened, why it happened and the art it produced. This is not a long book. Each era is just skimmed so you don't feel overwhelmed but you do come away with a little more knowledge about Europe and a better understanding of the art and archi A great book for those that love to travel to Europe and the first things they search out are the art galleries. An enjoyable read, the book starts with prehistoric Europe (40,000 - 8000BC) to the present. Each chapter discusses a new historical period. What happened, why it happened and the art it produced. This is not a long book. Each era is just skimmed so you don't feel overwhelmed but you do come away with a little more knowledge about Europe and a better understanding of the art and architecture you will see there . The authors keep things light and fun. Definitely a must read if you are planning a trip, and if not, then just read it for fun.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This was a quick read and an easy overview of European history. The authors connect developments in art to events and people in politics and religion, which is helpful. I need to take a trip, and I thought this might help me decide on a destination. I'm still undecided. Rick Steves is a reliable source for information, but sometimes his attitude gets on my nerves. He will often avoid the obvious and easy way just because there is a difficult and complicated way, with the only benefit being that This was a quick read and an easy overview of European history. The authors connect developments in art to events and people in politics and religion, which is helpful. I need to take a trip, and I thought this might help me decide on a destination. I'm still undecided. Rick Steves is a reliable source for information, but sometimes his attitude gets on my nerves. He will often avoid the obvious and easy way just because there is a difficult and complicated way, with the only benefit being that it is difficult and complicated. Maybe that makes better stories to tell people later?

  22. 4 out of 5

    JDK1962

    A (very) concise, breezy history of Europe, designed to familiarize the European traveler with the background of what they'll be seeing. Or to help someone thinking about a European trip decide what to focus on, or avoid missing. As long as you keep in mind that this is intended as the broadest of overviews, and that other more detailed works should be used to fill in gaps and provide more depth, you'll find this to be a very useful book. Personally, this book suggested at least 4-5 trips, each A (very) concise, breezy history of Europe, designed to familiarize the European traveler with the background of what they'll be seeing. Or to help someone thinking about a European trip decide what to focus on, or avoid missing. As long as you keep in mind that this is intended as the broadest of overviews, and that other more detailed works should be used to fill in gaps and provide more depth, you'll find this to be a very useful book. Personally, this book suggested at least 4-5 trips, each of which I'd like to be my next trip.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    If you are looking for a concise yet informative discussion of European history and art, this is the book. Trust Rick Steves to be able to produce a quick read that does a fairly good job of providing a broad overview and some details, laced with Rick's characteristic humor. Good for use prior to taking a trip to Europe, as it was intended. Better coverage of the continent than of outlying areas such as Ireland, which make sense, as the main action was happening on the continent for much of hist If you are looking for a concise yet informative discussion of European history and art, this is the book. Trust Rick Steves to be able to produce a quick read that does a fairly good job of providing a broad overview and some details, laced with Rick's characteristic humor. Good for use prior to taking a trip to Europe, as it was intended. Better coverage of the continent than of outlying areas such as Ireland, which make sense, as the main action was happening on the continent for much of history.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sukanta Maikap

    This is a great book, a great resource on European art and history. Rick Steves has done a great job keeping it interesting and funny all along. To those who find reading history boring, this book will certainly be a nice surprise for you. Though it is advised to finish the book cover to cover before starting on your trip through museums and historic ruins & castles of Europe, if forced to do otherwise please make sure you read at least last 3 chapters Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation & Thir This is a great book, a great resource on European art and history. Rick Steves has done a great job keeping it interesting and funny all along. To those who find reading history boring, this book will certainly be a nice surprise for you. Though it is advised to finish the book cover to cover before starting on your trip through museums and historic ruins & castles of Europe, if forced to do otherwise please make sure you read at least last 3 chapters Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation & Thirty-Two Millennia in Six Pages (total 40 pages) at least.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I only wish I was planning a European vacation. This was a gift from my mother-in-law after her return from teaching in London, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to both brush up on my Western Civ (it has been a lot of years since college), and remember places I had visited in the past. Steves & Openshaw do exactly what they set out to do - this history of Europe was highly readable, and its scope was perfect for what you'd want to know before travelling to understand what you're seeing. I only wish I was planning a European vacation. This was a gift from my mother-in-law after her return from teaching in London, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to both brush up on my Western Civ (it has been a lot of years since college), and remember places I had visited in the past. Steves & Openshaw do exactly what they set out to do - this history of Europe was highly readable, and its scope was perfect for what you'd want to know before travelling to understand what you're seeing. I'd definitely recommend this to people that are planning a trip to Europe.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nocheevo

    Not a guide book but cheat notes to european histroy/ art/ culture. After one reading you can babble on about architecture and art movements like a skivvy wearing art student as you wander yet another town looking for a decent coffee because Starbucks is merde. It certainly provides some background on the guidebooks/ tourists offices' reccomendations and enhances the experience of another gallery that you "must" look at before getting back on the turps. Not a guide book but cheat notes to european histroy/ art/ culture. After one reading you can babble on about architecture and art movements like a skivvy wearing art student as you wander yet another town looking for a decent coffee because Starbucks is merde. It certainly provides some background on the guidebooks/ tourists offices' reccomendations and enhances the experience of another gallery that you "must" look at before getting back on the turps.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    A good introduction to the history and the great art one sees in Europe. I feel especially blessed to have already seen a lot of what is referenced in this book and look forward to seeing more great art in Italy this Spring. At times the descriptions are quite humorous (regarding Pisa - "...is it just me, or does that look crooked?" The photos are really beautiful, and as I closed the book I felt I had learned a lot. A good introduction to the history and the great art one sees in Europe. I feel especially blessed to have already seen a lot of what is referenced in this book and look forward to seeing more great art in Italy this Spring. At times the descriptions are quite humorous (regarding Pisa - "...is it just me, or does that look crooked?" The photos are really beautiful, and as I closed the book I felt I had learned a lot.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I can't finish this. If you know anything about European history, it will be too basic. I appreciate Rick Steve's conversational style on his tv show, but al the little puns and jokes really get in the way in the book. I did finally learn the difference between doric, ionic, and Corinthians columns thigh, which was good. I ended up feeling like I was in a remedial history class without the art part. I can't finish this. If you know anything about European history, it will be too basic. I appreciate Rick Steve's conversational style on his tv show, but al the little puns and jokes really get in the way in the book. I did finally learn the difference between doric, ionic, and Corinthians columns thigh, which was good. I ended up feeling like I was in a remedial history class without the art part.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom Qiao

    I only regret not finishing this book before my recent 3-week trip to Europe. I had gotten through about a half, up to the Middle Ages, and the superb commentary really elevated my European travel experience. I was able to put famous buildings and places in terms of their historical and cultural significance instead of just snapping photos everywhere. A fantastic travel companion and primer to European history!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Fun and interesting read, with pretty pictures. I suspect the next edition will require an update on the "Europe now" chapter, however, after Brexit and the uncertain future of the EU. Also, there's a few random strange phrases scattered throughout the book which just make you scratch your head. No, it's not that I didn't get the jokes. I think the editor must have taken a break here and there. Otherwise, a punchy and lively take on European history and art for the traveler. Fun and interesting read, with pretty pictures. I suspect the next edition will require an update on the "Europe now" chapter, however, after Brexit and the uncertain future of the EU. Also, there's a few random strange phrases scattered throughout the book which just make you scratch your head. No, it's not that I didn't get the jokes. I think the editor must have taken a break here and there. Otherwise, a punchy and lively take on European history and art for the traveler.

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