A prodigious work, but I can't recommend it. Covering the known world for more than a millenium in one book can't help but be a bit rushed, but this was a bit much. The narrative is almost exclusively restricted to wars and regicides, as if nothing else was going on during this period. Nothing of the lives of regular people, nothing of slaves, serfs, peasants, nothing about architecture or technological advancements, economies, trade, roads, agriculture, or what else people did when they weren't fighting. I realize that this was a violent time but life wasn't 100% war, contrary to what you'd think if this is your only source for the period.
The book is formatted to cover the world in sequence, with a chapter on each civilization (e.g., Europe, China/Korea, India, a bit of the New World) for a particular time perioud and bit by bit, going back and forth to keep them all covered at about the same time. But since there's little in the book connecting relation between the various civilizations (Europe and the Middle East as the main exception), it would have been much less confusing if she'd just covered, for instance, all of the material on India at once, all of China at once, etc., instead of jumping around.
As for the reader, I've never cared for him, but I guess that's my preference. I did think he went a bit fast.
Make no mistake: We're all mammals here.
Probably not. The author's scholarship was far from impeccable, sometimes allowing her own prejudices to make connections that simply do not exist. For example, she actually said that the Donatists were the first Puritans. Assuming that she didn't mean to say what it seemed she was saying, I would have let it pass, but she pressed the point further comparing the two groups to an entirely inappropriate degree. In fact, no Puritan would ever have had a belief that the efficacy of the sacraments was in any way dependent upon the person administering them. They certainly promoted the purity of the church, but all sects do to one extent or another. They had no Donatist tendancies whatsoever.
I have listened to John Lee narrate before and find his tone unpleasant. It sounds snarky and dismissive. And his repeated mispronunciation of certain words (e.g. Monophysite and Manichean) nearly drove me crazy. From henceforth, I think John Lee will be one of the very few narrators I intentionally avoid.
The book skipped from one part of the world to another, one war and leader to another, quickly and without any kind of lead-in. The facts were interesting, but it skipped around a bit too much for me. I did learn some things though.
I listen to historical fiction and this will give an idea of the who's the whys and where. it is also neat for maybe insight to the real people.
This book does a good job of walking the reader/listener through timelines, peoples and events across medieval world. I enjoyed it and will probably purchase the book to have on hand as a reference.
Susan Bauer knows more about history than anyone I've ever read before. She interconnects events in the Middle Ages throughout the entire civilized world. The book is also very well read. It would've taken me at least one or two months to get through this book where it not for audible. Highly recommended!
Very worthwhile listen!
I was fascinated by the stories of how leaders were changed....death, murder, conquest, etc. All were interesting glimpses into how power has been determined through history.
This is an excellent and thorough treatment of the history of the world during the time when history was not much talked about. I was surprised and delighted with the inclusion of essentially the entire world and not just Europe.