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Narrator Rating (4)

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

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Wanda Mccaddon

28 Hours 42 Minutes

Blackstone Audiobooks

December 2005


Audio Book Summary

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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  • Anonymous


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  • Timothy McDonough

    Another fine work by Barbara Tuchman. If she wrote it, if you love historical nonfiction, you'll love the read.

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  • Tom Clayton

    The title says it all. People have not changed much as a group in 600 years. The Black Death is hard to believe. Entire families and towns wiped out. Bodies put in deep holes then covered by some dirt and then more bodies like making lasagna, a graphic I will never forget. Technology has changed what we can do but not why we do it. Fighting each other is not rare, in fact it seems to be the norm. With perspective obtained over longer than lifetimes, there is still a chance that we will evolve into something better. The 4 for narration is simply that narrators should not have accents that make it harder to understand what is being said, particularly fast paced narrations.

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  • Rodney Stroh

    Exceptional book and excellent narration; an indispensable key to the past!

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  • mary reynolds

    It takes a while to adjust to the narrators fast pace and the huge amount of information, but it is worth the effort. It's one of those that should be listened to over a long period of time, in pieces. The emphasis is on French history but its a vast tale of a time that shaped the world.

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