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Publisher's Summary

When the legendary Frankish king and emperor Charlemagne died in 814 he left behind a dominion and a legacy unlike anything seen in Western Europe since the fall of Rome. Johannes Fried paints a compelling portrait of a devout ruler, a violent time, and a unified kingdom that deepens our understanding of the man often called the father of Europe.

©2016 The President and Fellows of Harvard College (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This is a magisterial study of the life and times of the Frankish king who became the first Holy Roman Emperor." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to enjoy this -

Charlemagne is one of the most fascinating and most important figures of the Middle Ages. I was hoping for some insight into his personality, a compelling story along the lines of Jack Weatherford's "Genghis Khan." This was not that book. It is exhaustive in detail, but I don't have any more of a mental or emotional picture of the man than I did before I read it. The book is so disorganized. It jumps back and forth in time, back to his father's actions, forward to his last days, back to his youth, with nothing to bind it to a coherent story. It has no flow and no personality. A better narrator might have done a bit more with it - Stewart is so very stilted - but even so, there is a limit to what even the best reader could do. I was so disappointed.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Charlemagne; A barbarian grows a conscience.

The arch of the life of Charlemagne is well worth a modern look as provided by this well documented tome. The author takes pains to inform you how difficult it is to look at a historical figure so deep in history and lore without significant proof that the stories and historical accounts are not reinterpretation for the benefit of the time that they are written. Nonetheless it is a fascinating arc of life that clearly shows a powerful man coming to terms with his conscience In a time of barbarism.
It is impossible not to view at least the fable of Charlemagne as not being a man who came to the renaissance before the world was ready. I highly recommend spending the time required to get to know my relative Charlemagne!
As I like to read or should I say listen via Audible the cadence of the reader provides an odd cadence that becomes a touch annoying at times. I do listen at 2.5 speed and at normal speed you may not find this to be the case. Good listening.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Charlemagne

This was so bad, I couldn't listen past the 4th chapter. It would've been better to say we don't know much about Charlemagne and left it at that.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great research and lots of latin...

What did you like best about Charlemagne? What did you like least?

The references to ancient sources, mostly in latin. Really appreciate the author's research.

Did James Cameron Stewart do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The narration was probably my biggest issue with the book, though I'm not sure you could read this book in an upbeat and exciting way.

Was Charlemagne worth the listening time?

Gave up listening after the 2nd part.

Any additional comments?

If you knew latin, you would probably appreciate this book a lot more. Definitely well researched and the sources were old and amazing. But difficult for me to get excited about the story and the narration was a bit dry, which didn't help.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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excellent overview in a quite unbiased fashion.

The content is rich with historical perspective on the person and age of Charles. His involvment with the world of his age is fascinating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Terrible

This would be better titled Miscellaneous Ramblings, Speculations, and Irrelevancies Regarding the Middle Ages by a dis-organized researcher. As another reviewer commented comparing this book with the book on Ghengis Khan is like comparing random notes with a masterpiece. Unless you are an academic who cares not about substance, writing style, direction, organization, cohesion or a serious interest in the alleged subject matter do not bother to read it. My only hope is that the reason Harvard supported the book is because the research is accurate.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Lifeless and sometimes awkward reading

Interesting scholarship. Poor reading at points with phrase-by-phrase reading sometimes hard to folliw. Contents scholarly but interesting. Not convinced that Charlemagne would have accepted homosexual relations in his court. No unambiguous evidence of this brought out.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Terrible

Terrible in every way. Difficult to understand jumps all around and narration is horrible!

Stay away

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Don't bother. You won't actually learn anything

What would have made Charlemagne better?

There was absolutely no need for this book to be anywhere nearly as long as it was. "We don't know anything about Charlemagne directly, but let me ramble about tangentially related topics for 30 hours." Summed it up for you. Also, the author is assuming you are already incredibly well versed with European history at this point, and does next to nothing to actually help you out. I'm honestly not sure who this book is for. European history professors?

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • B Rose
  • Hillsborough NC
  • 06-05-18

Listen to the reviews!

I read all the horrible reviews for this book and got it anyway. No matter how curious you are believe me it’s not worth it! Hopefully someone will write a great, concise book about Charlemagne!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Golden girl
  • 03-30-18

Charlemagne

While the subject matter of this book was very interesting, I found it very difficult to get beyond chapter six. This was due to the narrator,who's sounded so uninterested in what he was reading. Sorry but I found his voice so monotone it was a great struggle to concentrate

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-01-17

Very heavy going

There seemed to be a great deal made of the fact that there was little verifiable evidence of Charlemagne‘s birth, life and life events. I found the content very dry.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful