Ian Mortimer shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. He sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking you to the Middle Ages.
The result is the most astonishing social history book you are ever likely to read: evolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail, and startling for its portrayal of humanity in an age of violence, exuberance and fear.
©2008 Ian Mortimer; (P)2009 Isis Publishing Ltd
"A jaunty journey through the 14th century, one that wriggles with the stuff of everyday life." (Guardian)
I liked the perspective of the book. It is important to understand as much as possible from the periods point of view rather than judging it only from our current perspective.
On occasion, there was a bit of condescension in the narrators presentation which defeats the purpose of looking at the period through its own eyes.
This book was a feast! the various courses were well prepared and a joy to consume. Overall the meal was completely free of the normal cardboard quality and lack luster taste one frequently finds in history books.
Johnathan Keeble's delivery of this meal was excellent and greatly added to the overall experience.
This was absolutely the most informative work on this time period I have EVER encountered. Jam packed with historical tidbits I have never come across before. And given to you in such a captivating manner...
for anyone who's interested in medieval England, I would absolutely recommend this book is a must listen. It was so much fun to listen to.
I have been a teacher of history of England and France for over 40 years and found the flow and anecdotal information to be interesting, enlightening, and even more fun to listen.
I enjoyed the interesting details of the times that I got from the book and had a lot of my own myths corrected. The framing device of being a tour guide for time travelers was fine, however the author seemed to feel the need to justify the device repeatedly, as if he was an academic wary of being accused of engaging in 'popular' writing without the most noble of intentions. All that was boring and pointless, but only made up a small portion of the book. Occasionally the narrative lapsed into lists and dates that were not very useful in an audiobook.
I listened to the whole thing in 2x time and didn't feel like I missed anything as the reader was very clear and easy on the ears.
This book is incredibly easy to listen to. The narration is wonderful.
The author really gets into the sights sounds and smell of life, and just draws you in. While I was super enjoyong all the descriptions, I ended with a new appreciation for present-day.
This is one of those books that you can put on in the background while you're busy and if you miss a part, it's not absolutely crucial for you to back it up. It's interesting enough that I've probably listened to it 3 or 4 times...and will likely listen again sometime :) Overall, this book was well worth my time.
I loved the way that Ian Mortimer organized and presented his material. Jonathan Keebler's reading brought the material to life. I give this Audio book five stars all the way around.
I've listened to many audio books about medieval Europe and have enjoyed them all, but most of them were filled with specifics about the monarchy and battles, etc. which is great but makes me have to rewind a lot to keep putting things in order. This book was fun be a use it doesn't go into a lot of specifics in that way, it just tells how exactly how life was back then. It was neat the way it's all done from the readers perspective as a traveller, literally involving all your senses. I'd love to listen to one just like it about ancient Rome! I really liked it and went through it very quickly. Now I have to wait a long time for my next Audible book. Thank goodness for Overdrive!!
"Fascinating social history"
A treat. I expected to be entertained and informed by this book but was ill prepared for just how fascinating the detail it included was. Just as good a listen as all the Liza Picard's social histories. Full of absorbing and interesting detail, this is a really good listen that you just don't want to end.
The narrator was great, when he was describing the streets what the butchers shop would look like, smell like, and sound like. I could imagine myself standing there.
"Signposts would have been helpful to find the way"
This is certainly a very worthy listen and I know that I have learned a lot of facts but it was not what I had expected. I had anticipated a more experiential journey through the homes and lives of the people, both rich and poor. And this book does give glimpse, but so stuffed with dates, names, place and time changes that the text became, for me, incoherent. I would far rather, for example, have visited a fairly typical small village , for example, and been shown the homes the food, the daily routines, customs, health, religious feelings etc of the villagers there before moving into the towns or talking about the more wealthy and the aristocracy. But all tended to segue into each other. This was not helped by the lack of chapter titles and even the numbered sections didn't seem to conform to any specific subject area.
Overall, Jonathan Keeble did well as a narrator but even he seemed to tire beneath the relentless lists of dates and titles at times. His finest reading also coincided with my favourite part of the book : the last 15 minutes - not because of relief that it was almost at an end but because, at last the author started to talk freely about the meaning of the past. Would that the rest of the book had flowed as easily.
Possibly the fault lies in this being an audio book and a written version would be more accessible.
"Essential background for amateur historians"
Thoroughly enjoyable and quite different from other history books that I have read. The author aims to immerse the reader in the 14th century and so he does.
I enjoyed most the chapter on contemporary literature.
Very fascinating approach to an interesting subject. The narrator was engaging in style and really helped bring it to life.
I don't know.
History jumping out at you. Amazing.
If History had been taught like this at my school we'd have all gone on to study it at Uni. The way this has been written makes it real. You can picture yourself back in time. I listen to audiobooks in bed and it is magical way to get off to sleep. I don't usually recommend books to people for fear of the 'let down' but this is different. Buy it and life a little. Roger.
"Enjoyable, relaxing & informative"
Very nice reading of an enjoyable and accessible history book, the time travel guides are great and the narrator presents this well. I would prefer shorter chapters as I often listen to audio books when I can't sleep then drop off part way through...
"Horrible history for adults"
I wish these books had been part of my history lessons when I was at school. Fabulous insight into the realities of medieval life. Well constructed and very well read. Thoroughly enjoyable.
"Interesting then seems to repeat itself"
It's an interesting concept and makes history more relevant to today. It felt somewhat repetitive towards the end though.
"A fascinating tale, well told!"
It was very enjoyable to listen to the story because this had the advantage of hearing the old English spoken aloud which added to the sense of being in mediaeval England.
It was so interesting to hear in detail about the devestation on the population and economy caused by the plague Also hearing about how some things changed very little over the century and how some things were completely different.
Jonathan Keeble has a very easy voice to listen to, very pleasant.
An excellent book and very well read.
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