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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 (1180 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Felipe Lessa Marcilio 03-04-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Terrific account of the Middle Ages"

    Barbara is well known for her history books, but still this one amazes the reader. Brilliantly written from the perspective of the life a nobleman, this book will entertain both historians and common-day history lovers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-02-17
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    "A history of the folly of war!
    "

    May human intelligence one day evolve to the point that differences are resolved by peaceful means!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valentin 06-30-16
    Valentin 06-30-16
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    "Exceptional"

    If at all interested in high middle age history, pick this up. The combination of a narrative story and historical analitics make it a must listen. It is told in a way that is understandable to just about anyone while still being engaging and interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marco Antonio Lara Houston 10-23-15
    Marco Antonio Lara Houston 10-23-15 Member Since 2014
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    "auctoritas"

    Barbara knows her biz. A keen historian with insight and color weaves a fascinating Web of eloquence on a fantastically complex and confusing epoch outside our modern purview

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 10-21-15
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    "Love the story ... hate the British accent"
    What did you love best about A Distant Mirror?

    The book is amazing and does a great job of depicting the 14th (1300s) century in Europe ... a time of emerging social consciousness, the plague, Crusades, knights and kings, etc. The author works from original sources and pieces together from these sources a picture of what life was like during these times.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    I HATE the British accent. The author is American and I would much prefer to listen to a book containing facts, foreign names, etc. read by a native American speaking reader. There were just too many times when I didn't catch what the reader was saying because of the accent.


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

    The same as the tagline of the book: The Calamitous 14th Century


    Any additional comments?

    Get another reader for this book and redo it in American English. At the very least, make it clear to people who purchase the audio that the reader is British.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noah New York, New York 09-27-15
    Noah New York, New York 09-27-15
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    "A window into the nasty world of the Middle Ages"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Tuchman has the rare ability to make readers feel as if they are actually living in history. That ability is on display in this book, which took me into the reality of the Middle Ages as no other book has. Reading this book, you will learn that romantic fantasies like Game of Thrones bear little reality to the squalid, violent, chaotic reality. Life in Medieval Europe really was, as Hobbes described it, "nasty, brutish, and short." The 14th century was the point when it all came crashing down - when the repeated blows of plague, famine, and war knocked the struts out from under the rotting edifice of European feudalism. The following 500 years, of course, saw Europe's amazing rise - but to understand the magnitude of that rise, it helps to start at the bottom. And this book describes the bottom.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger A Reid 07-06-15 Member Since 2007
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    "Not my favorite Tuchman but still educational"

    I had a difficult time following the book at time and had to rewind because I would miss something. I'm not sure why though. Nadia May does an ok job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 06-25-15
    Mary 06-25-15
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    "Accessible and Interesting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Definitely! This is a very accessible look into a much over-looked period history. I came in with only the vaguest idea of this time in European history but I found myself quickly engaged.


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

    The Battle of Nicopolis sticks out to me because of its world-shifting consequences - unknown and unseen at the time. As the author rightly points out, Fall of Constantinople is often considered the end of an era; however, the real turning point was this battle. The following half-century was just the death throes of that world.


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

    I have not listened to any of Ms. May's performances but I would gladly do so again. Her voice is clear, pleasant, and well-modulated. Her pace is very comfortable.


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

    I would have loved to do that, however, the book is entirely too long for that.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill 05-22-15
    Bill 05-22-15 Member Since 2013
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    "awesome"
    If you could sum up A Distant Mirror in three words, what would they be?

    stunning, grand, poignant


    What did you like best about this story?

    ms tuchman does a spendid job of braiding together many diverse and complicated bits of history into a consice and very human narrative. the good, the bad, the accidentlly successful and failures, the purposefully succesful and failures of the period are presented in a very sane fashion. human behavior is human behavior. doesn't seem to matter which century one is born.

    people great and small are still making the same decisions for the same reasons. change the names of individuals, nations, and causes and your are left with today's headlines.

    this is a very enjoyable and sobering book.


    What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

    the narration is very well done. no odd pauses. nice posh accent. one item that i found amusing. ms may pronounces the word "joust" "juiced". the first time i heard it i realized what the word was supposed to be and realized it was just a different pronounciation at the same time i was trying to figure out why the possible intoxication of the particpants was being mentioned. one might want to be "juiced" before participating in a tournament however.


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

    a panaramic epic ripped from today's headlines!


    Any additional comments?

    i have read other works by ms tuchman and this is by far the best. very good read. should be required in all high school lit classes

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Professor Woland 03-25-15 Member Since 2013
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    "A fund survey of the period"

    I am a fan of the author's approach to history and her delivery. The reader is pleasant and does a very good job in giving the words life they deserve.

    Its one of the better survey books on history I have read thus far (by survey I mean its not focused on a specific event or specialty (military, social, etc)). The author is a good writer and incorporates sources well, the books doesn't spew out events and names at you, but really gives you an idea of the life at the time and in some cases the personalities involved in the events. A very useful and clear narrative full of life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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