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A Distant Mirror Audiobook

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century

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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

4.1 (1153 )
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4.2 (673 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Donald E. Campbell Pearl, MS USA 04-06-14
    Donald E. Campbell Pearl, MS USA 04-06-14 Member Since 2012

    reader

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    "Very enjoyable and informative"
    Any additional comments?

    I thought this was a very well written and well-narrated book. I particularly like how the author wrapped the story around the life of one particular person of the time. It was a nice touch that held everything together. I have to say that if I were to start reading this book,l probably would not make it past chapter 2 because the book discusses events in France a great deal -- and I would have been frustrated by my inability to keep up with who is who. However, the narrator does a good job and I did not have any trouble with it at all. I highly recommend anyone interested in history listen to this book and be on the look out for pointy shoes, the anti-pope, and inbred the leaders of these countries were!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Stafford FL 11-28-13
    J. Stafford FL 11-28-13

    safe in FL

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    "A fantastic read"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Distant Mirror to be better than the print version?

    No, but still excellent.


    What other book might you compare A Distant Mirror to and why?

    Pillars of the Earth. Same time period with focus on the human condition.


    Have you listened to any of Nadia May’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Nystrom 08-01-13
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    "Huge unwieldy download"

    My major complaint is the size of the download files. My current MP3 player requires the Enhanced format, which makes files twice as large as the previous format 4, with no increase in audio quality. They are also no longer splitting up the book into smaller files. It is almost impossible to download a book without the latest in high speed connections,

    I drive truck over the road, which leaves me lots of time to listen to audiobooks while driving, but I almost never have access to a good enough connection to download such large files. This download would cost ten dollars worth of bandwidth to download via my Verizon wireless hotspot and no truckstop WiFi network has proven stable enough to download such a large file. I was only able to download it by going to a local library to use their connection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Pearland, Texas, United States 01-03-13
    Chris Pearland, Texas, United States 01-03-13 Member Since 2012

    I teach high school physics and read/listen to books in my free time. My favorite genres are history, sci fi, fantasy, and science writing.

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    "Enjoyable if this is what your into"
    Where does A Distant Mirror rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Somewhere in the middle. Barbara Tuchman is a marvelous writer and she did manage to keep the book rather more intriguing than other authors by wrapping her narrative around an obscure, but important figure from the day. With that said, I felt sometimes she stretched her points a little bit and her parallels to 20th Century warfare came out particularly contrived. The book is full of great information though and the narrator does a great job of making what could be a dull book enjoyable to listen to.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    War wreaks a terrible price on mankind, regardless of the age.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Coral 01-01-13
    Coral 01-01-13 Member Since 2008

    I hold a BA in History from York University of Toronto; a 3yr Diploma in Computer Networking from Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario. I have been "reading" audio books sinces the late 80s and a member of Audible back to 2004. What a really like is a good long story preferable over 30 hours. :)

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    "Fallacy of Composition is adverted by a narrow |"

    The author warn the reader that she is going to attempt to give one inside into the thinking of an age based on a single person; the way the book unfold it's more of a single male line then about a single man.This history is trying to balance itself between a general history and that of a single family. In the end it reads more like a second year history reader for a couple of lectures then a detailed book about the family.

    The author knows her business and seems to have a reasonable collection of proofs but it's a dry first hour.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory LILBURN, GA, United States 12-08-12
    Gregory LILBURN, GA, United States 12-08-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Simply Incredible"
    Would you listen to A Distant Mirror again? Why?

    I've listened to this book 4 or 5 times. It is that engrossing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Where to begin? Seemingly every sentence contains a novel facts and the sentences woven into a beautiful tapestry.


    What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

    Nadia May is terrific. She speaks with the author's authority.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a must have for anyone. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in medieval history, this book still a must have.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Epalinges, Switzerland 09-17-12
    Jean Epalinges, Switzerland 09-17-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Delightfull and fascinating"

    A very interesting review of the 14th century history with the central character of Engerrand de Coucy as the "fil rouge".
    A new look at history with a turning point in history. Very well narrate and delightfull to listen and very educative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 09-11-12
    Neil Chisholm Buninyong, Australia 09-11-12

    "fabric artist and quilter"

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It should be made into a musical!"

    This book has it all and should be made into a musical - there's fantastic sets, tragedy in the form of the 100 years war and the black death and the civilians of medieval Europe living life and loving to the fullest against the fear of plague or slaughter. Like the 1980s but on steriods!

    Seriously, I hadn't realised how extravagant the 14th Century was, there was the ever present threat of pan European war and the reoccurrence of the Black Death which killed nearly 50% of the total European population by 1400. Against this, those that lived well lived like there was no tomorrow (which for some there wasn't). Everything was taken to excess, extravagant costumes, absurdly rich food at 10 course banquets, money was spent recklessly.

    Ms Tuchman concentrates on Enguerrand VII, Baron de Coucy who lives conveniently in both the English Court of Edward III and the French Court of John II and thru his life Tuchman gives a thorough history of the century. It is truly fascinating and would be to anyone with an interest in European history at that time.

    My only criticism is that the narrator rattles along at a cracking speed - I know that there is a lot of info to pass on but the speed at which Nadia May reads means that you have to concentrate the whole way thru - miss a bit, you have to go back and replay it - you wont catch up later.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book, learnt lots but its not a book to relax to - its a history book for history buffs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Easthampton, MA, United States 09-08-12
    A. Easthampton, MA, United States 09-08-12 Member Since 2017
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    "Fascinating book that led me to seek more."
    If you could sum up A Distant Mirror in three words, what would they be?

    Illuminating, inspiring, detailed.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Enguerrand de Coucy is the landed aristocrat who links this history together. There were a number of other figures he encountered that I'd like to learn more about. I need to get a paper copy of this book for reference.


    What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

    Her classy narration fit the subject.


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

    No - too long.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd recommend finding a paper copy of this book to accompany the audio version if you are interested in further research. There are many names of places and people that are difficult to decipher by ear as they are obscure and French. There were so many fascinating stories and people that I'd like to learn more about, but I don't know where to begin.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat 08-19-12
    Pat 08-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History Repeats Itself"

    If the Middle Ages intrigues you, Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror makes it accessible and understandable. I wouldn't have "read" this book. I don't speak French, and I think I would have just skipped trying to remember the characters because I couldn't pronounce their names. This narration makes it easy to follow the machinations of the European leaders in the 1300's. By choosing a French nobleman as the focal point for her book, she kept the history in check. There's a lot here, but so interesting. I loved it. And I'm keeping it on my iPhone, just to have if I feel like checking in occasionally, because it's impossible for me to remember even a tenth of what she has to offer, so re-listening occasionally will be enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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