Northern Shores

Northern Shores by Alan Palmer, A history of the Baltic Sea and its Peoples.

This book covers a potentially fascinating topic. The Northern Sea of Europe the Baltic compared to the more famous and glamorous Southern Sister the Mediterranean gets overlooked. But Its a worthy topic for a book to try to redress this balance a little. This is the stage of the Northerly crusades, of the Hanseatic league and a battleground for central Europe and Russia. And this Book covers it all, however I found it mainly really hard work.

Up to the Second World War the story is told in an old fashioned plodding style of moves by Kings and Statesmen, of battles, dates and border changes. All great stuff for Insomniacs but where is the more strategic view, where is the story of the influence of the Hanseatic League of how it altered the wealth and culture of Europe. This part of the book is all to worthy and stale.

Only in the run up to the events of World War II and on to the present day you get a feel for an editorial picture presented to you. Of a view of the War which is sufficiently different and insightful to be of really great interest. There is much to say about the Baltic Republics and indeed Finland and their position between the two tyrannies of USSR and the German Reich. For the last few chapters alone this is a worthwhile read but a more lively and insightful account of the Baltic Sea is still outstanding.

February 1, 2024