• The Verge

  • Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years That Shook the World
  • By: Patrick Wyman
  • Narrated by: Patrick Wyman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (553 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The creator of the hit podcast series Tides of History and Fall of Rome explores the four explosive decades between 1490 and 1530, bringing to life the dramatic and deeply human story of how the West was reborn.

In the best-selling tradition of The Swerve and A Distant Mirror, The Verge tells the story of a period that marked a decisive turning point for both European and world history. Here, author Patrick Wyman examines two complementary and contradictory sides of the same historical coin: the world-altering implications of the developments of printed mass media, extreme taxation, exploitative globalization, humanistic learning, gunpowder warfare, and mass religious conflict in the long term, and their intensely disruptive consequences in the short-term.

As told through the lives of 10 real people - from famous figures like Christopher Columbus and wealthy banker Jakob Fugger to a ruthless small-time merchant and a one-armed mercenary captain - The Verge illustrates how their lives, and the times in which they lived, set the stage for an unprecedented globalized future.

Over an intense 40-year period, the seeds for the so-called "Great Divergence" between Western Europe and the rest of the globe would be planted. From Columbus' voyage across the Atlantic to Martin Luther's sparking the Protestant Reformation, the foundations of our own, recognizably modern world came into being.

For the past 500 years, historians, economists, and the policy-oriented have argued which of these individual developments best explains the West's rise from backwater periphery to global dominance. As The Verge presents it, however, the answer is far more nuanced.

©2021 Patrick Wyman (P)2021 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about The Verge

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Like the Podcast but Better.

I am a devoted Tides of History listener. Although the topics covered in this book all draw from the roots laid down in the early modern series of Patrick’s podcast, he goes into different facets of those stories and does a excellent job of sewing the narratives he explored in such great depth into a larger narrative of change and transformation.

Although listening to Tides is hardly required to enjoy this book (or vice Verska), I feel like I have gotten more out of this book because of my years listening to the podcast and the greater space he had to cover topics like Charles The Bold, Dynastic Monarchy, and the Italian Wars. This book actually goes deeper into the mercantile world than the podcast as well, giving over entire chapters to biographies covered in the podcast and going into greater detail into their lives, as well as tying those fascinating glimpses into early capitalism into the larger story.

The book could have been three times as long and I would have enjoyed every minute of it. It was an awesome listen, and am very happily thinking over what I’ve just listened to.

28 people found this helpful

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An illuminating look into a fascinating 40 years

This is a really engaging and interesting book that paints a detailed picture of many of the groundbreaking things going on in this period. I'm pretty in the weeds with history, but this will be really accessible even to people who aren't while still being very engaging to people who already are familiar with the period. I'm really impressed, I think this book ranks really highly among accessible histories of the middle ages and early modern period. Especially impressive because it's the author's first book.

The author's narration is very good, Patrick Wyman does a fantastic job. That's hugely important and saves the audiobook because the audio production is not good. The audio quality is poor for a professional recording and the editing is quite bad. The 2nd chapter is repeated in it's entirety and smaller edits are very noticeable with big changes in quality and audio tone. Make sure you download the high quality audible version of the book, it's necessary to compensate for the poor recording quality if you want this to be listenable.

All that said the high quality version of the audiobook is listenable and the narration is well done. And the book is really good. So I'm still giving it five stars. Just keep the audio quality issues in mind if that's something that you have trouble with.

21 people found this helpful

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Great story about great transformation

Great details that makes you feel history and catch many minor even tiny aspects in one great landscape

Impressive work, highly recommended or all history lovers and curios people

19 people found this helpful

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A dry topic that is excellently delivered

Patrick manages to bring life to a topic that would put most people to sleep.

His performance reading this story really helps bring it to life, with the love and compassion of the writer shini g through in the audio format.

That said, the topic is still heavy and hard to get into, the first few chapters taking some effort to work through.

Good and informative book though, with plenty of information for the listener looking to learn more about the formation of the modern world.

13 people found this helpful

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So much potential, so little craft

Patrick is a magician! Managed to make a fascinating time period and make it a fast working sleeping pill.
It's just so utterly mediocre and disappointing. Honestly, nothing in this book warrants so many five stars reviews, and it's so obvious that all of then are from podcast fans who just want to gift the author a nice review. Do yourself a favor and take the reviews with a grain of salt.

Just like with any profession, there are leagues and levels of skill. There's a reasons why some football players play with Barcelona, while other professionals play in small local clubs. You can't just expect a low level professional to belong in the big leagues. This is no different here. There's a reason why some historians are respectable top level authors, while other do free podcasts. Patrick, obviously, belongs to the latter category (and I'm a fan since fall of Rome podcast). Mike Dunkan also tried to jump from podcasting to writing a book, and while it was no masterpiece, I was honestly pleasantly surprised with 'The Strom Before the Storm'. Unfortunately Patrick is no Mike Dunkan, and this book is clearly podcast level content.

Hopefully Patrick will get another chance to write a book. I want to believe that the next book will do a better job in grabbing my attention, in making a fascinating time period at least somewhat interesting, and will be worth it's price. Until then Patrick, stick to making podcasts.

13 people found this helpful

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LOVED IT!

I binged the book and as everything Patrick Wyman does it’s perfection! A great edition to my history library by my favorite historian.

13 people found this helpful

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Patrick is the best!

I started listening to Fall of Rome last year and could not stop! Patrick tells the stories in ways that make you feel you are there! Once I heard about the Verge it was a no brainer that I was buying it!

8 people found this helpful

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A fun and engaging blend of narrative and context.

By focusing on the life and times of several "Great Men" in the late middle ages Patrick Wyman illustrates the trends and forces of that were the real drivers of change in the period he calls the verge.His narration is excellent. I wish I still had more book left.

6 people found this helpful

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Entertaining and enlightening

A deep dive into European society, at a pivotal transition. Wyman's basic argument is that a number of nearly simultaneous innovations and changes worked together in this period to set the stage for Europe's emergence as the world's dominant region, without romanticizing that dominance. That emergence was far from intentional or inevitable.

If you listened to the author's incredible Tides of History podcast, all the stories told here will be familiar, but here, he weaves a subset of that material together with greater depth and coherence.

4 people found this helpful

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So informative

If you call yourself a historian you must read this BOOK! Well researched and superbly delivered

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jaki
  • 07-23-21

Accessible, quality history...

A well written, incredibly knowledgeable yet accessibly written account of a period of European history that had implications that ripple out to today's world. Read engagingly by the author. Highly recommended!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Marie Harrison
  • 11-01-21

informative and interesting

A deep dive into the politics, economics, and world changing events of the reformation. The author/narrator is excellent, has thoroughly researched the topic and I pleasure to listen to. The only thing I missed were the little "real life" audio bits Patrick uses in his history podcast, where you could imagine you were really there. Still an excellent book and performance though!

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  • davezol
  • 10-09-21

Mesmerising

Superbly argued point of view, with the whole of Europe (or even, the world) as its canvas.

Definitely worth listening to if you want to understand some of the 'grubby financial' details which let history take its course.

Would benefit from more comparison to e.g. China or the Indian states at that time, or even to less successful European states which did not have recourse to these financial innovations , but otherwise unable to fault this.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna Kovasna
  • 09-19-21

An engaging, nuanced & accessible take on history

As always from Patrick Wyman, an accessible, well researched and multifaceted book weaving people's lives into a rich story of the deeper systems and processes driving historical change. Really helpful to get away from more simplistic narratives of this period, and history in general. Well read by the author, whose voice to be honest feels like that of a good friend after countless hours spent listening to his excellent podcasts.

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  • SilverWave
  • 08-30-21

Excellent.

The Verge provides a window into the lives of various interesting characters from a key time in European history. Insightful and illuminating. Written in blood indeed.

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  • Oliver
  • 08-05-21

Wonderful stuff

I’m a big fan of the podcasts, Tides of History, and here Patrick adds that bit more depth. Wonderful.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-14-21

An awesome read

Patrick's assessment of the interconnectedness of histories over those 40 years is outstanding. He was so captivating with the Fall of Rome I've listened to all of his work since. I look forward to more.

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  • Josh
  • 07-24-21

Great listen!

Love Patrick's podcast and the book does not let down. Definitely recommend for all those history buffs out there!