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'm a 60 yr old former English major and grad student. It's been fascinating revisiting the books I studied in my 20s, read aloud to me.
This is a beautifully written book by a gifted historian. I learned little of European history during my school years and found this book invaluable in catching me up and filling in the many blanks of my knowledge. HOWEVER--the narrator sounds exactly like J. Peterman (of Seinfeld fame). He sounds like he's trying to put on a British accent--why, I have no idea. It's extremely distracting and almost made me delete this book before listening all the way through. If "Charlton Griffin" is British, why is he faking his accent? And if he's American (which he sounds like) why can't he just read the book in his NORMAL ACCENT?? Seriously, this is the only flaw (and it's a big one, in an Audiobook) in this fascinating and rich history.
This is a classic bit of historical biography. The text survives the narrator. (Someone please explain to Griffin that reading historical writing is no excuse for sounding like such a pompous ass.)
As a summary of Charlemagne, this work missed the mark as either a scholarly endeavor to make significant access to primal information or as an historical narrative that engages one into the life of Charlemagne. On the one hand, it glosses over the facts behind the narrative and so does not give one a glimpse of the scholarship. On the other hand, the narrative is not engaging enough to draw one into and through Charlemagne's life and times. In fact, it seems boring and removed. So, it misses on both counts.
The reader is so affected and disconnected from the content of the book it is incomprehesible. I tried very hard to listen because I really wanted to learn the subject matter but it was not possible. A disaster of an audiobook. Avoid Avoid Avoid.
This book is well read, however, it is not written in an interesting manner. I felt as if I was in a history class where the professor thoroughly enjoyed discussing every remote detail while the class is sound asleep. I paid for the book so I kept trying to listen, but for the most part I just wanted to turn it off.
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