Ivor Norman Richard Davies CMG FBA FRHistS (born 8 June 1939) is a
British-Polish historian noted for his publications on the
history of Europe,
Poland and the United Kingdom. He is a historian
with special interest in Central and Eastern Europe. He is UNESCO
Professor at the Jagiellonian University, professor emeritus at
University College London, a visiting professor at the Collège
d'Europe, and an honorary fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford. He
was granted Polish citizenship in 2014.
1 Academic career
4 Awards and distinctions
5 Personal life
8 Further reading
9 External links
Davies was born to Richard and Elizabeth Davies in Bolton, Lancashire.
He is of Welsh descent. He studied in Grenoble, France, from 1957 to
1958 and then under
A. J. P. Taylor
A. J. P. Taylor at Magdalen College, Oxford, where
he earned a BA in history in 1962. He was awarded an MA at the
University of Sussex
University of Sussex in 1966 and also studied in Perugia, Italy.
Davies intended to study for a PhD in the
Soviet Union but was denied
an entry visa, so instead he went to Kraków, Poland, to study at the
Jagiellonian University and did research on the Polish–Soviet War.
As this war was denied in the official communist Polish historiography
of that time, he was obliged to change the title of his dissertation
to The British Foreign Policy towards Poland, 1919–20. After he
obtained his PhD in
Kraków in 1968, the English text was published in
1972 under the title White Eagle, Red Star. The Polish–Soviet War
From 1971, Davies taught Polish history at the School of Slavonic and
East European Studies of University College, London, where he was
professor from 1985 to 1996, when he retired. He subsequently became
Supernumerary Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, from 1997 to 2006.
Throughout his career, Davies has lectured in many countries,
including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Poland
and in most of the rest of
Europe as well.
Stanford University's history department denied Davies a tenured
faculty position in 1986 (on an 11 against, 10 for and 1 abstaining,
vote). Davies subsequently sought to obtain $3 million in damages
from the university, arguing he had been the victim of discrimination
on the grounds of his political views (with the claim being
"defamation," "breach of contract" and "tortious interference" with a
business). The case ultimately collapsed when Davies was unable to
depose Professor Harold Kahn as to what Kahn (who refused to be
deposed) had said about Davies in closed faculty hearings. The court
ruled that because of California's right of privacy "even if we assume
that... a candidate may be denied tenure for improper" [e.g.,
defamatory] "reasons, we are of the opinion that the right of a
faculty member to discuss with his colleagues the candidate's
qualifications thoroughly and candidly, in confidence and without fear
of compelled disclosure, is of such paramount value that it ought not
to be impaired." The court upheld the university's right to decide on
faculty appointments on the basis of any criteria.
He is a visiting professor at the Collège d'Europe.
Norman Davies, Warsaw, 2004
Davies' first book, White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War,
1919–20 was published in 1972. His 1981 book God's Playground, a
comprehensive overview of Polish history, was published officially in
Poland only after the fall of communism. In 1984, Davies published
Heart of Europe, a briefer history of Poland, in which the chapters
are arranged in reverse chronological order.
In the 1990s, Davies published Europe: A History (1996) and The Isles:
A History (1999), about
Europe and the islands of Great Britain and
Ireland, respectively. Each book is a narrative interlarded with
numerous sidepanel discussions of microtopics.
In 2000, Davies' Polish publishers Znak published a collection of his
essays and articles under the title Smok wawelski nad Tamizą ("The
Wawel Dragon on the Thames").
In 2002, at the suggestion of the city's mayor, Bogdan Zdrojewski,
Davies and his former research assistant, Roger Moorhouse, co-wrote a
Wrocław / Breslau, a Silesian city. Titled Microcosm:
Portrait of a Central European City, the book was published
simultaneously in English, Polish, German, Czech and Italian.
Davies also writes essays and articles for the mass media. Among
others, he has worked for the
BBC as well as British and American
magazines and newspapers, such as The Times, The New York Review of
Books and The Independent. In Poland, his articles appeared in the
liberal Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny.
Rising '44. The Battle for Warsaw
Rising '44. The Battle for Warsaw describes the Warsaw
Uprising. It was followed by
Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple
Victory (2006). In 2008 Davies participated in the documentary film
"The Soviet Story".
Jewish historians Lucy Dawidowicz and Abraham Brumberg object to
Davies' historical treatment of the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Poland.
They accuse him of minimising historic antisemitism, and of promoting
an idea that academic views of the Holocaust in international
historiography largely overlook the suffering of non-Jewish Poles.
Davies's supporters contend that he gives due attention to the
genocide and war crimes perpetrated by both Hitler and Stalin on
Polish Jews and Poles. Davies himself argues that "Holocaust scholars
need have no fears that rational comparisons might threaten that
uniqueness. Quite the opposite." and that "... one needs to
re-construct mentally the fuller picture in order to comprehend the
true enormity of Poland's wartime cataclysm, and then to say with
absolute conviction 'Never Again'." In 1986, Dawidowicz's
criticism of Davies' historical treatment of the Holocaust was cited
as a factor in a controversy at
Stanford University in which Davies
was denied a tenured faculty position for alleged "scientific flaws".
Davies sued the university in this respect, but the court eventually
ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over academic administration
and disputes, see section "Academic career" for details.
His book Europe: A History had met with a controversial, polarized
Awards and distinctions
Davies holds a number of honorary titles and memberships, including
honorary doctorates from the universities of the Jagiellonian
University (since 2003), Lublin, Gdańsk and
Warsaw (since 2007),
memberships in the
Polish Academy of Learning
Polish Academy of Learning (PAU), the Academia
Scientiarum et Artium Europaea, and the International Honorary
Council of the European Academy of Diplomacy, and fellowships of
British Academy and the Royal Historical Society. Davies
received an honorary
DLitt degree from his alma mater the University
Davies is also an honorary citizen of Polish cities of Warsaw,
Lublin and Kraków.
Member of the committee for the Order of the Smile.
Edward Bernard Raczyński, President of the Polish
government-in-exile, decorated Davies with the Order of Polonia
Restituta. On 22 December 1998 President of
Kwaśniewski awarded him the Grand Cross (1st class) of the Order of
Merit of the Republic of Poland. Finally, on 11 November 2012, Davies
was decorated with the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest
In 2001, Davies was made a companion of the Order of Saint Michael and
Saint George for service to Central European history.
Davies has been appointed to the Advisory Board of the European
Association of History Educators – EUROCLIO. In 2008, he was awarded
Order of the Cross of St Mary's Land
Order of the Cross of St Mary's Land 3rd Class by the Republic of
Davies also received
Knight of Freedom Award
Knight of Freedom Award in 2006 for his promotion
of Polish history and the values represented by General Casimir
In 2012, he received the
Aleksander Gieysztor Prize
Aleksander Gieysztor Prize for his promotion
of Polish cultural heritage abroad.
Norman Davies married Maria Korzeniewicz, a Polish scholar born in
Norman Davies lives in Oxford and Kraków, and has
two sons. His uncle Donny died in the Munich air disaster.
1972: White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish–Soviet War, 1919–20. (2004
edition: ISBN 0-7126-0694-7)
1977: Poland, Past and Present: A Select Bibliography of Works in
English. ISBN 0-89250-011-5
1981: God's Playground: A History of Poland. Vol. 1: The Origins to
1795, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-925339-0 / ISBN 0-19-925340-4
1984: Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0-19-285152-7
2001: Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present. Oxford University
Press, USA; New edition ISBN 0-19-280126-0
1991: Jews in Eastern
Poland and the USSR, 1939–46. Palgrave
Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-06200-1
1996: Europe: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
1997: Auschwitz and the Second World War in Poland: A lecture given at
the Representations of Auschwitz international conference at the
Jagiellonian University. Universitas. ISBN 83-7052-935-6
1999: Red Winds from the North. Able Publishing.
1999: The Isles: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2002 (with Roger Moorhouse): Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European
City London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-06243-3
2004: Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw. London: Pan Books.
Europe East and West: A Collection of Essays on European
History. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-06924-1
Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory. Macmillan.
2008: To and From. Modern Poland: A Journey Through Postal History.
Rosikon Press. ISBN 978-83-88848-64-3
2011: Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe. Allen
Lane. ISBN 978-1-84614-338-0
2015: Trail of Hope: The Anders Army, An Odyssey Across Three
Continents. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-47281-603-0
2017: Beneath Another Sky: A Global Journey into History. Allen Lane
^ a b c "State appellate court upholds Stanford in Davies case".
Stanford University News Service. Stanford University. 5 September
1991. Retrieved 3 August 2008. Davies's works have been criticized at
Stanford and elsewhere, by such experts as Lucy S. Dawidowicz (author
of The War Against the Jews: 1933–1945) who said they felt Davies
minimized historic anti-Semitism in
Poland and tended to blame Polish
Jews for their fate in the Holocaust. Davies' supporters contend that
Poles suffered as much as Jews did in the war and could have done very
little to save any of the 3 million Jews living in
Poland at the time
of the Nazi invasion in 1939. Davies had sought $3 million in damages
from the university for what he called fraud, misrepresentation,
breach of contract, discrimination and defamation.
^ "UK historian
Norman Davies granted Polish citizenship". Polskie
Radio dla Zagranicy.
^ "We must not forget the real causes of the war". The Independent. 28
^ a b Applebaum, Anne (May 1997). "Against the old clichés – Review
of Europe: A History by Norman Davies". The New Criterion. New York.
Retrieved 2 August 2008.
^ College of
Collège d'Europe Brochure
The Soviet Story
The Soviet Story " People in the film". Archived from the original
on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
^ Lucy Dawidowicz, "The Curious Case of Marek Edelman". Observations.
Commentary, March 1987, pp. 66–69. See also reply by Norman
Davies and others in Letters from Readers, Commentary, August 1987 pp.
^ Abraham Brumberg, "Murder Most Foul", Times Literary Supplement, 2
March 2001. Essay on Neighbors by Jan T. Gross.
Tony Judt and Abraham
Brumberg. Letters, Times Literary Supplement, London 6 April 2001. See
also response by Norman Davies, Letters, Times Literary Supplement,
London 13 April 2001.
^ Norman Davies, "Russia, the missing link in Britain's VE Day
mythology", The Times, London, 1 May 2005.
^ Norman Davies, lecture, University of Cincinnati Department of
History and the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education,
Cincinnati, OH. 26 April 2005.
^ "Gesamtliste der Mitglieder". European Academy of Sciences and Arts,
Salzburg. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 3
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014.
Retrieved 19 September 2012.
^ "Fellows of the Royal Historical Society, D – F". Archived from
the original (MSWord) on 19 December 2008. Retrieved 3 August
^ Sussex Lectures 2006:
Europe at war, 1939–45: not freedom's
victory Archived 7 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b "
Poland honours historian Norman Davies". Polskie Radio dla
^ United Kingdom 2001 New Year Honours List: "No. 56070". The London
Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2000. pp. 3–3.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2012.
Retrieved 27 February 2012.
^ "Kazimierz Pulaski – Polish patriot and United States army
officer". Encyclopædia Britannica.
^ Davies, Norman, Biography .
^ "Norman Davies: "Podejrzewaliśmy Niemców"" (in Polish). Wawrzyn
Info. February 6, 2015.
Schwarz, Benjamin (December 2002), "God's Playground: A History of
Poland", Atlantic Monthly (review): 127 .
Snowman, Daniel "Norman Davies" pp. 36–38 from History Today,
Volume 55, Issue 7, July 2005.
Taylor, Gilbert (15 December 1997), "A History of Europe", Booklist:
America, 18 December 1982, p. 394.
American Historical Review, April 1991, p. 520.
American Scholar, Fall, 1997, p. 624.
Booklist, 15 September 1996, p. 214; 1 February 2000,
p. 1006; 1 May 2004, Jay Freeman, review of Rising '44: The
Battle of Warsaw, p. 1538.
Commentary, March 1987, p. 66.
Current History, November 1984, p. 385.
Economist, 6 March 1982, p. 104; 10 February 1990, p. 92; 16
November 1996, p. S3; 4 December 1999, p. 8; 27 April 2002,
"What's in a Name: Central European History."
History Today, May 1983, p. 54; March 2000, Robert Pearce, "The
Isles: A History," p. 55.
Kirkus Reviews, 15 March 2004, review of Rising '44, p. 256.
Library Journal, 15 March 1997, p. 73; 1 February 2000,
Nation, 21 November 1987, p. 584.
National Review, 5 June 2000, John Derbyshire, "Disunited Kingdom"; 17
May 2004, David Pryce-Jones, "Remember Them," p. 46.
New Republic, 15 November 1982, p. 25; 22 September 1997,
New Statesman, 21 May 1982, p. 21; 31 August 1984, p. 26.
New Statesman & Society, 20 December 1996, Norman Davies, "How I
Conquered Europe," pp. 36–38; 17 October 1997, David Herman,
review of Europe: A History, pp. 30–32; 15 May 1998, Michael
Pinto-Duschinsky, "The Hunted, Not the Hunters," p. 35. 15
November 1999, Alistair Moffat, "Jobs and Foxes Will Flee to England,"
p. 35; 13 December 1999, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "Forging Our
History," p. 57.
New York Review of Books, 29 September 1983, p. 18; 15 May 1997,
New York Times Book Review, 5 December 1982, p. 52; 4 March 1984,
p. 34; 23 December 1984, p. 5; 22 June 1986, p. 34; 7
December 1986, p. 84; 1 December 1996, p. 15.
Observer (London, England), 10 October 1999, Andrew Marr, "A History
Lesson for Wee Willie," p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, 26 August 1996, p. 83; 24 November 1997, "A
History of Europe," p. 64; 24 January 2000, p. 301.
Sunday Times (London, England), 17 October 1999, Niall Ferguson,
"Breaking up Is Hard to Do if You're British," p. NR4.
Times (London, England), 30 October 1999, Richard Morrison, "Britain
Dies as Mr. Tough Rewrites the Past," p. 21.
Wilson Library Bulletin, October 1986, p. 68.
World and I, August 2004, Richard M. Watt, "The
How Polish Capital Ferociously Resisted World War II Occupiers."*
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Norman Davies.
Small English homepage at www.normandavies.com
Europe at War"
Britain and the
Warsaw Rising. Essay, 2004.
Official press release on the case of Davies vs. Stanford University
A Polish site about
Norman Davies (in Polish), includes a gallery and
parts of translated text
Commonwealth of Diverse Cultures: Poland's Heritage
BBC Interview with audio and transcript
Books by Norman Davies
White Eagle, Red Star (1972)
Poland, Past and Present (1977)
God's Playground (1981)
Heart of Europe. A Short History of Poland (1984)
Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present (2001)
Jews in Eastern
Poland and the USSR (1991)
Europe: A History (1996)
Auschwitz and the Second World War in Poland (1997)
Red Winds from the North (1999)
The Isles: A History (1999)
Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City et al. (2002)
Rising '44 (2004)
Europe East and West (2006)
Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory (2006)
To and From. Modern Poland (2008)
Vanished Kingdoms: Exploring Europe's Lost Realms (2011)
Trail of Hope: The Anders Army, An Odyssey Across Three
Native Lands: A Global Journey into History and Memory (2017)
ISNI: 0000 0001 0929 6037
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