A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

By Barbara W. Tuchman
Read by Nadia May

28.63 Hours 12/01/2005 unabridged
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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.”

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Summary

Summary

Winner of the National Book Award for • History

ANew York Times Bestsellerfor Nonfiction in 1979

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.”

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Barbara Tuchman at the top of her powers…A beautiful, extraordinary book…She has done nothing finer.” Wall Street Journal
“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
“Wise, witty, and wonderful…A great book, in a great historical tradition.” Commentary
“[Wanda McCaddon] renders interesting even Tuchman’s most pedantic moments of scene-setting…[McCaddon’s] reading, with impeccable French and English accents, immerses the reader in the lengthy narrative, mixing politics with the personal. Humorous asides, especially commentary from peasantry…enliven the telling.” AudioFile

Reviews

Reviews

by j 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

Highly recommended for those who enjoy history books in general and for the scholar desiring rigor of research and suppression of author opinion--she appeals to both taste

Tuchman is a legendary historian, and this book and Guns of August are exactly why. She focuses on the non-royal tier of upper nobility. Doesn't focus on battles, but includes all the wars. Adds social reviews and general life stuff. Actually grew out of a history of the Black Death, so it is a decent history on those major events.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy history books in general and for the scholar desiring rigor of research and suppression of author opinion--she appeals to both taste.

Author

Author Bio: Barbara W. Tuchman

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912–1989), American historian, was born in New York City and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1933. A self-trained historian, she was a writer for the Nation and an editor for the US Office of War Information. In her later years she was a lecturer at Harvard and the US Naval War College. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for The Guns of August and in 1972 for Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45. She was awarded the 1978 Gold Medal for History from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 28.63
Audience: Adult
Language: English