This is a short book crammed full of information. In its 220 pages, this book covers the Pre-Christian beliefs of several different cultures and how those cultures interacted with one another and how their beliefs intermingled. The book starts with Eastern Mediterranean areas and the Greeks then moves on to the Romans. The Celts are next followed by the Germanic peoples. The Baltic states, Russians and Balkans round out the cultures mentioned.
As I stated before, this book is densely packed with information and that may make it a challenging read for some. I see it as a fantastic resource and starting point for further investigation of a culture. It gives the reader a good overview of the cultures and their pre-Christian practices. It also gives a larger picture view than culture specific books. I think this is one of the reasons that A History of Pagan Europe is on the ADF Dedicant Reading List. Not only does the book cover several different cultures, it also shows how the cultures interacted with, and affected, one another. It is just enough information to make you want to dig further. I particularly like reading about the Balkans. Prior to reading this book, I had no idea how long the Pagan influence and culture held on in places like Lithuania. I also appreciated that they recorded not only the Christian’s violent acts against Pagans and their holy sites but also the destruction wrought by Pagans upon Christians as well as other Pagans. I think it is important to know that the fighting and conflict were not one sided with the Pagan cultures cowering before their conquerors. Granted, the Christians won out and there was a lot of blood shed along the way, but the Pagans were not completely innocent either. It seems that everyone tried to conquer everyone else. I think it is of the utmost importance to know where you come from and, as much as possible, the truth of your history whether it is positive, destructive, or somewhere in between.
I think this book may be a tough read for some. It is full of information. There is very little filler. Those that chose to tough it out will find it was worth the effort. I have already recommended it to a few of my friends that are interested in either ancient cultures or comparative religion and they have enjoyed as much as I did. I will most likely use this as a resource through my studies with ADF.