We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
A Distant Mirror Audiobook

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century

Regular Price:$34.96
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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 (1231 )
5 star
 (554)
4 star
 (382)
3 star
 (184)
2 star
 (75)
1 star
 (36)
Overall
4.2 (759 )
5 star
 (392)
4 star
 (197)
3 star
 (119)
2 star
 (32)
1 star
 (19)
Story
4.2 (742 )
5 star
 (391)
4 star
 (199)
3 star
 (97)
2 star
 (35)
1 star
 (20)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Teadrinker Newark, NJ, United States 08-14-14
    Teadrinker Newark, NJ, United States 08-14-14 Member Since 2017

    World Champion Parallel Parker

    HELPFUL VOTES
    137
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    154
    119
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Long but Good"

    This is the second time I've "read" this book and listening to it gives a different dimension. Impressive historian, impressive sourcing and incisive pattern-finding. I'm not a historian but it seems to me there's been a lot of "medieval times were not so backward" going around, like "they discovered X and did Y, etc." but . . . well . . . really?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine 06-21-14
    Christine 06-21-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved the content but not the performance."
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Distant Mirror to be better than the print version?

    Not better, just different. I like to listen to these fascinating books while i garden or drive so this was perfect for me.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Way too much range in loudness and pace. She would drop into these low pitch, fast paced, quieter sections i couldn't hear. It was incredibly frustrating. I listen to many audiobooks and i have never found a narrator more frustrating.


    Any additional comments?

    Amazing author, wish the narration was better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    niall blehein chicago 06-15-14
    niall blehein chicago 06-15-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    121
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Its a landmark book - but it takes effort"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    YES. The narrative is a mess at the start - but the material is EXCELLENT. I've read this multiple times and loved it each time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-11-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    51
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    14
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic depiction of the 14th century"

    If you have an interest in the middle ages, and particularly in the social history of that time period, you absolutely have to read this book.

    We are all familiar with the history books which describe the major battles of a particular time period or which concentrates on the political machinations. This book does this as well but with so much more.

    If you want to learn how people dressed, what they ate, how much they were paid, how religion and war influenced their lives, what they died of etc, etc, then get this book now.
    The best bit is that Barbara Tuchman doesn't just concentrate on the nobility. She covers all stratas of society from peasants to clerics, from dukes to brigands.

    Some reviews have complained that this book spends too much time on the minutiae of daily life, but personally I think that this is the book's strongest point.
    You actually get to know how people "really" lived during the 14th century.

    The book does concentrate almost exclusively on western Europe, imparticular France. However, as so much of what happened in the 14th century centred around decisions and actions taken in what is now present day France this is perfectly understandable.

    There is excellent coverage of the Black Death, the Papal Schism and of course the 100 years war.
    We get a fascinating insight into how religion influenced daily life and what people actually believed and how much of that belief was actually practised.
    Believe me, if you thought some of the scandals surrounding the Catholic church in the last few years were bad, you will be sobered when you here what they were up to during this time period.

    My advice is not to get hung up on trying to remember all of the names of people and places covered in the book. Many of the names are similar and keeping track of interlinking families and alliances can often be tricky.
    As long as you can keep track of the main characters its probably ok to let the rest just flow over you ... while you just enjoy absorbing the interesting titbits of information we are given along the way.

    Personally I think the narration by Nadia May is the best ... note that a second version of the book is available from audible which is narrated by a different person.

    There is no doubt that this book contains a massive amount of information. Some might find this daunting, but if you are really interested in life during the middle ages then you will lap it all up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald E. Campbell Pearl, MS USA 04-06-14
    Donald E. Campbell Pearl, MS USA 04-06-14 Member Since 2012

    reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    90
    46
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    19
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    325
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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. :)

    HELPFUL VOTES
    151
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    185
    85
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.