This incredible biography, without question the best ever written about Charlemagne in the English language and one of the greatest biographies of the 20th century, is a thrilling and poignant chronicle of the greatest of Medieval kings. We follow the young king in his early years as he assumes control over a divided kingdom, as co-ruler of the Germanic Franks along with his brother Carloman. When Carloman dies, Charlemagne assumes sole ownership of the crown and immediately begins his expansionist policy, first subduing the Lombards in Italy, then taking on the savage pagan Saxons. As his empire grows, Charlemagne proves himself a genius at military and civil administration. The Byzantine Emperor and Caliph of Baghdad held him in high esteem and acknowledged him as the successor to the western Roman emperors. But it was his great Christian faith and compassion that marked him out for greatness. He was a first rate scholar-humanist and surrounded himself with the greatest minds of Europe. As a fervent son of the church, it was Charlemagne more than anyone else who charted the course of the Catholic Church. As never before or since, Charlemagne held an empire in thrall as both its temporal and spiritual leader.
©1954 Estate of Richard Winston; (P)2004 Audio Connoisseur
"It remains the best life of Charlemagne in English." (The Saturday Review)
I didn't know a whole lot about Charlemagne's life until buying this book, but I soon was taken in by the great man's life. Though the book was written half a century ago, I only found one anachronism within it. The book does an excellent job of placing Charlemagne's life into the context of history, and gives enough of a prelude and epilogue to satisfy those who may not know that much about the Middle Ages. Definitely recommended!
I learned a great deal from this audio book, but felt more like I was taking a class, rather than learning for the pure enjoyment of it. I also struggled with terminology, not being familiar with that period or the world map during that time. Still, I am glad I worked my way through it, and gained an even stronger appreciation of King Charles.
I found this book a great read. It was a very informative and entertaining history of the period, the 8th century. The author incorporated all facets of the day....living conditions, social conditions, economics, advancements, etc. It seems the "dark ages" were not as dark as I previously believed. The narrator was awesome. I could have listened to him for another 15 hours!!
The narration of this book is very entertaining, and the enthousiasm of the author is infectatious. What I found particularly interesting is that the book is more than just a summarization of historical names.
Besides that also describes the methods those historical characters used to be so where so influential in their time. E.g. the "fair" toll bridge policy of Charlemagne, to replace the decaying roman infrastructure through us private initiative. (an item still on the agenda today:). In that sense the book really brings you IN the 8th and 9th century, which were like another reviewer rightfully remarked not considered "dark ages" at that (or this?) time.
The pace of the book is quite fast, which makes it less suitable for it to listen in the car. I had to rerun it a few times. It does sometimes swamp the listener with facts and European placenames (Soissons, Amiens, Liege, Aachen) more or less assuming the reader knows where they are. Just remember that Audiobooks don't come with handy maps which makes "placing" the history a bit more difficult.
Finally, the book does start way before Charlemagne, with Charles Martel fighting off the muslim invasion of Europe and Bonaface (which was killed in the north of my country), spreading Christianity in Europe.
All in all, the best history book covering the period.
Interesting European history. We in the United States don't get much of the history of Europe. I thought it was a good history of early European formation. We think of "Germans from Germany" "French from France" and "Italian from Italy" This book gives a little insight into the melding of the peoples of Europe. As for those who say the book as too religious. I think they are just showing their religious intolerance.
The reader is hard to listen to, and the reverb on quoted lines is ridiculous to me, but the book is excellent. I made my self get past the audio irritation because the content was so good. Complaints said, I really liked the book and am glad I listened to it.
One of the first audiobooks I purchased and still one of my favourites. Despite its length I have just listenned to it for a second time and found it as fascinating as the first listen. The narrator is one of my favourites, his baritone lending weight to the life of Charlemagne and, while the facts are all present, they are woven into a story line that can easily hold the attention. I would recommend this for any lover of history.
I have always loved Charlemagne. Perhaps this makes me biased, but this book was very well done. The author doesn't gloss over or try to embellish Charles accomplishments. This is the best book on the life of Charles I have ever read. The book covers his entire life, a lot of books on the subject skip over his early years and jump straight into his later years. If you want a great book on Charlemagne's Life this is it!!!!!!!!
I loved this book, and that is saying a lot as I am usually dissapointed. It's 14 hours, but toward the end, I wished it were much longer.
Narration is great too.
I am halfway through this audiobook and would advise anyone purchasing it to download it with superior sound quality. I chose level 2, which is usually fine, but in charlemagne's case it's difficult to listen to because of the great many sound effects. Great book, though!
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