European society began with the first settlements somewhere between 45,000 and 25,000 BC. From there, Greco-Roman society dominated with its start in ancient Greece, an area generally considered to be the seed from which Western civilization grew. The fact that modern-day Greece is experiencing financial difficulties underscores the cycles of prominence that sift through civilizations. No one area/culture/people have claimed supremacy for more than brief periods of time.
The history of Europe is vast, therefore few scholars attempt to cover the entire story with a single book. Norman Davies is one of the successful exceptions to the rule. Similarly, college classes in European history tend to focus on certain periods, a common one being "modern" European history which begins with the Renaissance and continues through the following periods:
One book on this subject which all students should investigate is Europe: A History, written by Norman Davies of Wolfson College, Oxford. For conducting research on European history, a good place to start would be the European History Research Guide made available by the Yale University Library. Another excellent source would be European History Primary Sources, made available from Google Books.
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