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Publisher's Summary

A History of the Middle Ages is the amazing story of European man in transition. It is a dramatic chronicle of 1,000 years of political, social, and economic transformation beginning with the dissolution of the classical Mediterranean civilization and ending with the first flowering of the Renaissance. It is also the story of two new religions, Christianity and Islam, both of which were destined to dominate the mind of every person in those new civilizations arising in their wake. This was the great Age of Faith, a time of darkness and a time of enlightenment...a time of lords and vassals, popes and kings, and commerce and cathedrals.

This great history starts with a survey of Christianity, then continues with an exploration of the "dark ages" following the fall of Rome, before proceeding with an explanation of how Europe coped with, and absorbed, the barbarians who overran the Empire. It goes on to trace the development of feudalism and Islam, and describes the harrowing survival of Byzantium throughout the brutal chaos that swirled about the Eastern Roman Empire during the 9th and 10th centuries. Discover how national monarchies and the modern nation state came into being, how the West responded to the Islamic invasions, and how Christianity penetrated into the farthest reaches of Northern Europe. Understand the dramatic repercussions of the Great Schism in Christianity and how economic change in the West almost destroyed the church. Finally, discover the events which gave rise to the magnificent flowering of the Gothic Age and the explosion of knowledge which subsequently paved the way for the Renaissance. The Middle Ages were the precursor to everything which we in the west consider "modern." This beautifully written history tells you why.

© and (P)2004 Audio Connoisseur

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I didn't know much about the Middle Ages

This is an excellent book. It is well written and at times very entertaining.
The origins of modernity are well discussed, ranging from the residue of central European tribes, e.g, Celts and Lombards to the reasons for the differences between Russia and the rest of Europe.
Quite comprehensive and wide ranging discussions. I am stimulated to learn more about this period of history.
I strongly endorse this book. It is especially good for anyone who may have an interest in history and doesn't think they know much about the Middle Ages.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Painful.

Scholarship aside, and I found the content of the book by and large interesting, I could simply not get over the naration, which I found hideous. Every sentence is spoken with bombastic gravitas in an comically Churchillian style. Furthermore, the producers employed tawdry "special effects" for every primary quote, drenching Charlton Griffin's voice with entirely unecessary reverb. The first time he read a passage from the Bible, I thought it was somewhat amusing, but after the third or fourth quote I found the cheap theatrics distracting to the point of infuriating. Regarding the "bias" many listeners found in the book, it's worth keeping in mind that the authors (Crane Brinton for example) were products of Oxford in the 1920s, and thus reflect the best and worst of British imperial scholarship...

15 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very Poor

The music over the narration was off putting, I couldn't listen any more. A very poor choice on my half and the readers accent. I was expect life in the middle ages and all I got was Gregorian chanting or akin to.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Historical Outline of the Middle Ages

The narrator was very good and for the most part I found this book quite informative. However, dispite the more than 18 hours of this book, it didn't really cover any particular era of history in much detail. There is enough here to give one a general idea of the foundations of modern western countries and social customs. The authors did succeed in making me more curious about european history. If that was their intent, they have done a marvalous job. There was enough detail that it left me with a much better understanding of the foundations of western culture, and for that, I consider it time well spent.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

UGH-is the production a joke?

Can't/won't really talk about the content. Don't know much about the period - wanted to learn so got the book. I'm sure I learned something.

But, good lord! Every time there was a quote they ran the reader through an echo-y reverb machine. In the first chapter I thought it was some throwback to movies about God from the 50s or 60s or whenever it was, when they tried to make God's voice mystical or lofty or otherworldly or whatever. But this wasn't only for God's voice! Every single time there was a quote in the book, no matter who from, it received the same treatment! I felt like I was being treated like I was six years old. It was awful, annoying, insulting, and just plain STRANGE! Please, may I never encounter this again.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

disappointed

sort on facts, long on moralizing. imperialist to the point of outright racism. I'm not sure when the book was written but I'd guess in the late 1940s or early 50s from the antiGerman or anti-everyone who doesn't speak English sentiments.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
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An excellent overview

What about Charlton Griffin’s performance did you like?

I liked the narrator's accent and clarity.

Any additional comments?

This is a great overview of the history of Europe in the Middle Ages. It also gives enough information about the Roman, Byzantine, Russian and Islamic history to place the story in context.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Dreadful, biased and outdated.

After listening to this terrible book for one dreary chapter after another, I did some research on the authors and was not at all surprised to see that they were born in the 19th century, and died half a century ago.

This is the 1920s Oxford imperial mindset, cheerleaders for orthodox Christianity, ultra conservative and historically dishonest. This is NOT history.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 12-26-12

Makes history relevant to today.

The audio book points out that we have modern preconceptions of the English, Germans, and the French. The book suggest that our preconceptions are formed by the historical development for each country into a nation-state and factors such as the separation of powers between the kings, barons and peasants formed how each country will develop slightly different from each other.

I had bought this audio book over five years ago before I listened to it. My bad. It's a very listenable book. It does read like a text book and throws a lot of dates and peoples names at you, but I enjoy a well written and narrated text book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Chi
  • Riverside, CA, United States
  • 04-18-12

Medeival History for beginners

Would you consider the audio edition of A History of the Middle Ages to be better than the print version?

The audiobook version of this kind must necessarily suffer from the inaccessibility of names, places and technical terminology. So, I'd say no.

Would you recommend A History of the Middle Ages to your friends? Why or why not?

No, too boring, and will likely put them to sleep.

How could the performance have been better?

Absolutely, the deep low masculine voice is ill suited to historical narratives.

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

Bad Idea!

Any additional comments?

The book is useful as far as being a beginner's guide to medieval history is concerned, it does not go into detail, just jumping from one theme to another, so those interested in particular themes can do further research. It also suffers from the all too often a problem of Eurocentrism, the thousand year between the Fall of Western Roman Empire 472 a,d and the fall of Eastern Roman Empire in 1454 in China is between Tang and Ming Dynasty. a lot of things happened there too. In short, it's a folly to try to squeeze a thousand years in a 18 hour history book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful