An Atlas of Extinct Countries (Hardcover)
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"As the title of his brilliant atlas suggests, Gideon Defoe explores the sometimes sordid and frequently funny fates of extinct countries. The entries detail approachable microhistories while also shamelessly providing laugh-out-loud commentaries on their causes of death, including 'godawful Europeans, bad planning, a total lack of manners, and too much of a good thing.' Defoe's irreverent foray into 48 cases of human folly highlights the absurd and sometimes arbitrary nature of conceptualizing and maintaining nation-states."--Reviewed by Cristina
Prisoners of Geography meets Bill Bryson: a funny, fascinating, beautifully illustrated--and timely--history of countries that, for myriad and often ludicrous reasons, no longer exist.
"Countries are just daft stories we tell each other. They're all equally implausible once you get up close."
Countries die. Sometimes it's murder, sometimes it's by accident, and sometimes it's because they were so ludicrous they didn't deserve to exist in the first place. Occasionally they explode violently. A few slip away almost unnoticed. Often the cause of death is either "got too greedy" or "Napoleon turned up." Now and then they just hold a referendum and vote themselves out of existence.
This is an atlas of 48 nations that fell off the map. The polite way of writing an obituary is: dwell on the good bits, gloss over the embarrassing stuff. This book refuses to do so, because these dead nations are so full of schemers, racists, and con men that it's impossible to skip the embarrassing stuff.
Because of this - and because treating nation-states with too much reverence is the entire problem with pretty much everything - these accounts are not concerned with adding to the earnest flag saluting in the world, however nice some of the flags might be.