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Sandra

Naperville, IL, USA | Member Since 2006

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  • A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    Overall
    (286)
    Performance
    (111)
    Story
    (114)

    From tales of chivalrous knights to the barbarity of trial by ordeal, no era has been a greater source of awe, horror, and wonder than the Middle Ages. In handsomely crafted prose and with the grace and authority of his extraordinary gift for narrative history, William Manchester leads us from a civilization tottering on the brink of collapse to the grandeur of its rebirth, the Renaissance.

    Wallen says: "Ruined by the narrator"
    "Distorted and FIlled with Historical Erros"
    Overall

    As an academic historian, I am appalled by the lack of historical accuracy and perspective supplied in this book. The author subjects his reads to the same tired historical misunderstandings that plagued 19th centruy historians who were trying to look back and come up with a history of different ages. AN uninformed reader of this work would leave it with the impression that scientific, cultural and social development had been completely arrested during this time period, and indeed that Europe had fallen into a world where death and destruction were the only companions. The contrasting richness of life during these times is completely ignored by the author.

    As an example, the writer presents the "Catholic" faith as monolithic and all-controlling of life in middle ages Europe. The CHurch exhibited, in his view, a coordinated and sinister effort to keep civilization down. In truth, Christianity was responsible for much of the cultural development of Europe during this time, and helped to enhance many cultural variations and innovations. The author erroneously and continuously uses the term "Catholic Church" to describe the Latin Christian Church. The term "Catholic" was not used until after the Council of Trent in 1555, and was coined to differentiate between traditional Christians and Protestants during the Reformation.

    Thus inaccuracy plagues the book. In another example, the writer characterizes both John abd Paul, two of the fathers of the early Latin Church as heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul was a Jewish Pharisee, a man thoroughly trained in Jewish law that stood in stark contrast to Greek philosophical thought. John was a spiritual mystic and steeped in Jewish tradition. He was not in the mold of Pythagoras or Plato.

    Let the reader (or listener) beware. This book is for anyone with a serious interest in the so-called "Dark Ages".

    40 of 50 people found this review helpful

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