In 1963, Norman F. Cantor published his breakthrough narrative history of the Middle Ages. Here is a significant revision, update, and expansion of that work.
The Civilization of the Middle Ages incorporates current research, recent trends in interpretation, and novel perspectives, especially on the foundations of the Middle Ages and the Later Middle Ages of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A sharper focus on social history, Jewish history, women’s roles in society, and popular religion and heresy distinguish the book. While the first and last sections of the book are almost entirely new and many additions have been incorporated in the intervening sections, Cantor has retained the powerful narrative flow that made earlier editions so accessible.
©1963 1993 by Norman F. Cantor (P)1994 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“No better explanation of medievalism is available to the general reader.” (Booklist)
This has long been a highly regarded book summarizing the history of the Middle Ages. I've had a print copy for a long time but never had the time to read most of it, so I was very happy to see this audio version.
This is NOT entertainment. If you're looking for thrilling stories, titillating facts, and hero-worship, this is not the book for you. But if you want to learn the basic nitty-gritty details of medieval history -- who did what when, and why it mattered -- this book is perfect. The narrator does a convincing job with the French and German words, and gives it enough life to hold your attention without trying to overly dramatize a book that isn't really dramatic. I've found it worthwhile to listen to each section over and over to absorb all the information.
The main criticisms I have are that it's a bit narrow and conservative. By conservative, I mean that the author largely dismisses or ignores popular and non-mainstream cultures, despite the large amount that is known about them from historians' research. Also, his focus on England, France, Germany, and Italy means that we learn almost nothing about Eastern Europe and very little about Spain. But this is normal for books on "European History" or "Western Civilization," so one can't complain too much.
"Erudite and well researched"
An interesting and broad book that leaves very little out. In fact the book enters into all the minute details that it possibily could, which is why it is so very long. It is nevertheless very interesting.
It is somewhat spoiled by the reader, who seems to want to appear learned but instead has infuriating inflexions in his speech.
Cannot think what more could be added, but it might be an idea to get someone else to perform the reading of this book.
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