This great history starts with a survey of Christianity, then continues with an exploration of the "dark ages" following the fall of Rome, before proceeding with an explanation of how Europe coped with, and absorbed, the barbarians who overran the Empire. It goes on to trace the development of feudalism and Islam, and describes the harrowing survival of Byzantium throughout the brutal chaos that swirled about the Eastern Roman Empire during the 9th and 10th centuries. Discover how national monarchies and the modern nation state came into being, how the West responded to the Islamic invasions, and how Christianity penetrated into the farthest reaches of Northern Europe. Understand the dramatic repercussions of the Great Schism in Christianity and how economic change in the West almost destroyed the church. Finally, discover the events which gave rise to the magnificent flowering of the Gothic Age and the explosion of knowledge which subsequently paved the way for the Renaissance. The Middle Ages were the precursor to everything which we in the west consider "modern." This beautifully written history tells you why.
© and (P)2004 Audio Connoisseur
I found this book to be an excellent start for one that has limited knowledge of the Middle Ages. It covers a lot of ground, and frankly will leave you lost if you try and grab onto every word. Its best treated as an encyclopedia of sorts. If only the chapter listing was listed properly it could indeed serve this function.
Focused heavily on European and Mediterranean areas during the period. There is no mention of Asians, Africans or Indigenous Americans at all. Glanced over Islam and went heavily into Christianity. This is not a knock, there is some cross over but if you want to read about Islam's influence in depth, you will need to supplement.
The readers clinical/scholarly voice did not irritate me as it did others.
The Middle Ages are so much more varied than most people realize. This overview is an excellent one! No single book can adequately go into the diversity of the societies at conflict during that time, but this one comes very close.
Great information, thorough and power packed facts reside in this book. If you learn best through listening, perhaps this book is for you. If you need to ruminate and grasp facts and concepts before moving on, this book moves way to fast, in my opinion. It is one of the titles I've downloaded that I will listen to when I already have a framework set, and understanding of this period in western civilization, and then I can use this book as a solid review. Now, I use it to help my insomnia.
I've now listened to part two - and think I was a bit harsh. There's a LOT here. And while some is opaque or longwinded, I'd challenge anyone not to come away without better understanding of the times that formed us, and a new perspective on the times we live in. Not perfect, but considering it's scope, well worth purchasing.
To start off the earlier review by akeelshah, from Edmonton is spot on in my opinion. This is a very badly done work.
Having read extensively over the past 20 years on history in general (it's a favorite hobby) and the Middle Ages specifically I was extremely disappointed in this piece.
First off it starts off shilling for Christianity which presents a several notable problems for a book purporting to be written by scholars of the subject. While it's absolutely without question that the Christian church had a huge and central influence in that time period (hard not to have been when rejection of the church could lead to loss of life and limb)in Western Europe, offering events that are solely supported by writings of the New Testament as "history" is wrong. It's a fairly well accepted bugaboo among true scholars of any of the three main monotheistic religions that many of the purported events and characters are not known or otherwise mentioned in any of the other significant writings of the matching time period.
Moreover there's no legitimate reason to include any of the New Testament material as the generally accepted period for the Middle ages is around the middle of the 5th. century until the middle of the 15th. century C.E. Including events found only in a religious text as "history" that purportedly occurred approximately 400 years earlier is inappropriate. I am a bit tired of so called scholars using every excuse to push their personal religious agenda. If I wanted a treatise on the early Christian church I would have purchased such a title.
Add to this, as has been mentione by several other reviewers, the grating, professorial English accent and the reverb quotes and the work is unbearable.
While at times highly inaccurate and obviously opinionated, I believe it is generally a good overview of major, commonly accepted events. The reader’s voice is grating at times, but can be tolerated at low volumes.
Pick a different book.
This is a superb example of how not to write history. Aside from the shoddy research, worse writing, the blatant bias of the authors compels them to continuously whitewash Church history. This isn't history. It's propaganda, and not particularly good propaganda at that. The narrator is comically pretentious. It seems to be an attempt at giving the yokels a bit of pseudo-intellectual flimflam to mask the True Romance text and World Book research. If you're looking for a literate history of the early Middle Ages, try Winston's Charlemagne on audio, or try The Teaching Company for some excellent courses.
This should be an interesting offering. Unfortunately both the book and the narrator are far too full of themselves. It's almost unlistenable. I was, however happy to find it made a very good sleep aid.
The only drawback is the unorthodox pronunciations--I am more comfortable with non-British narrations but can tolerate it better if the words are close to how most of the academy speaks.
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