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A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century | [Barbara W. Tuchman]

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century

The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.
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Publisher's Summary

The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

Barbara Tuchman reveals both the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived. Here are the guilty passions, loyalties and treacheries, political assassinations, sea battles and sieges, corruption in high places and a yearning for reform, satire and humor, sorcery and demonology, and lust and sadism on the stage. Here are proud cardinals, beggars, feminists, university scholars, grocers, bankers, mercenaries, mystics, lawyers, and tax collectors, and, dominating all, the knight in his valor and "furious follies", a "terrible worm in an iron cocoon".

©1978 Barbara W. Tuchman; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"Beautifully written, careful, and thorough in its scholarship....What Ms. Tuchman does superbly is to tell how it was....No one has ever done this better." (New York Review of Books)
"Barbara Tuchman at the top of her powers....A beautiful, extraordinary book....She has done nothing finer." (Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (911 )
5 star
 (368)
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.1 (468 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (456 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (14)
Performance
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  •  
    TulalipK Tulalip, WA, United States 03-24-15
    TulalipK Tulalip, WA, United States 03-24-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    3
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    "I love history but this got tedious"

    The narrator is quite articulate, but sorry to say I found the vocal tone tiresome over the long term.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christian 02-24-15
    Christian 02-24-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    4
    2
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    "Amazing Book --- Perfect Narration"

    If you're interested in Medieval history you will love this book! Even if you're just a fan of Medieval fantasy, this book is for you.

    Barbara Tuchman does a great job of stating facts without bogging down the story. Her way of intertwining quotes from 14th century sources in mid-sentences really keeps the book feeling authentic. It's not just Tuchman's voice we hear, but the voices of many Medieval chroniclers.
    -----
    Nadia May makes listening to this book like sitting in as a British school teacher reads to her class with marvelous enthusiasm. She couldn't have a more perfect voice to speak of castles, knights, jousts and courtly love.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harold McPeake New Westminster, British Columbia 02-11-15
    Harold McPeake New Westminster, British Columbia 02-11-15 Member Since 2014

    Say something about yourself!

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Only for someone really interested in the 14th cen"

    Just as one would expect from Barbara Tuchman the book is incredibly researched and well written but it is more suited to someone with a serious interest in this time period. A listener with an interst in just a little non fiction entertainment will find this book hard to follow because the great detail and many characters and unfamiliar settings. . The performance is very good

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Wonder Lake, IL United States 02-07-15
    Amazon Customer Wonder Lake, IL United States 02-07-15 Member Since 2013

    Bluejay

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    129
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Needs to be abridged"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. The information was interesting, but way too detailed. Could be vastly improved by being abridged,


    What three words best describe Nadia May’s performance?

    Ok, but her voice went up and down, and I could not catch everything she was saying


    Do you think A Distant Mirror needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl Singerman 02-07-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
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    Story
    "Excellent"

    I enjoyed listening to this book very much. The story was very interesting and informative. I learned much more than I had ever known about the medieval world. The narrator was very easy lit to listen to and kept my attention. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys learning history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    horoscopy 01-28-15
    horoscopy 01-28-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    12
    10
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    "Over "Wordy" and Over Rated"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    didn't think it measured up to the great reviews this book has gotten. The author is not a medievalist historian and has written other very popular books on Vietnam war and World war 1.


    What could Barbara W. Tuchman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    just don't think she could have done anything other than not write it as it is not really her subject and was best left alone I think for her.


    What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

    she is a great narrator,,,I don't have any complaints over her narration


    What character would you cut from A Distant Mirror?

    ,


    Any additional comments?

    no

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angelo Nanni 01-25-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    8
    2
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    "Loved it."

    A wonderful history. I wish audible carried more such. If they did though I would have to spend more of my money with them

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Personne 12-01-14
    Mr Personne 12-01-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    7
    4
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    "Incredibly well documented and written"
    Where does A Distant Mirror rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of my favorite. Captivating like a novel and documented like a scholarly book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Distant Mirror?

    The pest epidemics and its deep consequences on the social and political events of the century.


    What does Nadia May bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Great energy throughout this dense and complicated book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not really, it is too long and detailed !


    Any additional comments?

    Nadia May delivers a great performance as long as she sticks to English. Unfortunately her French pronunciation is not very good and, as a native French speaker, I struggled to understand the French quotations or the name of some French locations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teadrinker Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 08-14-14
    Teadrinker Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 08-14-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
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    92
    61
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    1
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    "Long but Good"

    This is the second time I've "read" this book and listening to it gives a different dimension. Impressive historian, impressive sourcing and incisive pattern-finding. I'm not a historian but it seems to me there's been a lot of "medieval times were not so backward" going around, like "they discovered X and did Y, etc." but . . . well . . . really?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine 06-21-14
    Christine 06-21-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
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    "Loved the content but not the performance."
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Distant Mirror to be better than the print version?

    Not better, just different. I like to listen to these fascinating books while i garden or drive so this was perfect for me.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Way too much range in loudness and pace. She would drop into these low pitch, fast paced, quieter sections i couldn't hear. It was incredibly frustrating. I listen to many audiobooks and i have never found a narrator more frustrating.


    Any additional comments?

    Amazing author, wish the narration was better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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