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Publisher's Summary

The Bubonic Plague of the 14th century killed one third of all human beings in Europe and Western Asia; many who survived the plague killed each other in the Hundred Years War that followed. What was it like to live in this calamitous century, when knighthood (and much more) died a violent death? Find out.

©1978 Barbara W. Tuchman (P)1984 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Joshua
  • Spring Mills, PA, United States
  • 01-19-14

A classic history

I really enjoy Barbara Tuchman's work. To listen is to be immersed in14th century Europe, where knights are bold, vicious, arrogant, conniving, sometimes not very bright, and very dangerous. The church is all about power and control, holding souls hostage to a harsh God, ransoming them for material gain. Villages are wiped off the map by the Black Death in a matter of weeks. Riveting!

But, I can't wholeheartedly recommend this performance. The reader does a reasonable job, but her pace is not mine. A slower, slightly more relaxed reading would make this book even more engrossing. I must say that I've enjoyed this title in spite of the narrator, she reads just a little too fast for me. If I were to recommend this book, I'd recommend a version by a different narrator.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • JSK
  • Charlotte
  • 01-22-14

A Favorite

What did you love best about A Distant Mirror?

Impressive detail from diverse sections of 14th century society gives the book wonderful perspective.

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

The historical geographic view of the Black Death is fascinating.

What does Aviva Skell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She certainly can pronounce the French names much better than I.

Any additional comments?

This book, which won an additional Pulitzer for Tuchman, is history at its very best. I have read this book before, but was delighted to find that even in the audio version it was just as difficult to put down (or pause). Good books about the early Middle Ages in Europe are hard to find; but even though this may be the best title on the subject, this is still a great book no matter the reader's favorite genre.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Feather
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 10-15-13

Great book, but read too fast

Barbara Tuchman is an awesome historian and writer and I've never before read anything like this book. I bought the kindle version in order to re-read it in parts that were simply too quickly read for adequate comprehension. It is extremely dense with information--many, many names, places, and dates. In addition to going too fast (and barely, if at all pausing between paragraphs), I found the narrator's pronunciation of French names a little distracting. Sometimes it was perfect, sometimes half-right, and sometimes completely off, e.g. "Reims." But if you don't speak French you won't notice the mispronunciations. On the other hand, I would imagine that it would be very hard to keep the names straight without any knowledge of the language.

The content describing life in fourteenth century France was absolutely fascinating.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Speeded up audio

Any additional comments?

We really wanted to listen to it and we liked the reader, but the recording seemed slightly speeded up, possibly because the book is extremely long. I tried it at a slower speed on my device to see if I could normalize it, but I would guess it was speeded up maybe 10%, so I couldn't adjust it to sound more normal. So disappointed. The effect is that you are being pummeled with words!

  • Overall
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  • Story

so much information

incredible information, explored through one person's life as a great story and examination. listen twice.

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  • Story

History lives!

Tuchman not only makes the middle ages come alive, but through story passes on vital lessons we need today.

  • Overall

I didn't enjoy it overall.

I'm not much of a history person. The only reason I got it is because I had to read it for my AP Euro class. But other than that, it's not like I'm saying you shouldn't buy it. It's not a bad book, just not my style. The writing was good and the story was ok, but to someone else who loves history, this is probably a great book for you.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting but hard to listen to it all

Very interesting, but too detailed and fast spoken. God help you for trying.. God Bless.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Tedious

I had tried to read this book before and thought the audiio book would be easier. It was still a lot like reading an encyclopia...lots of names, dates, and places but no thread to make it relevant.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful