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tannat

Tannat

Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

The Rule of Luck
Catherine Cerveny
Engineering Animals: How Life Works
Alan Mcfadzean, Mark Denny
Progress: 125/314pages
The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization
Nicholas P. Money
Conservation of Shadows
Yoon Ha Lee
Progress: 22%
Le premier jour
Marc Levy
Progress: 180/496pages
Hogfather
Terry Pratchett, Nigel Planer
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. Tuchman (audiobook)

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century - Barbara W. Tuchman, Nadia May

Well, that was a long haul, but I don't regret the journey.

 

This is basically an overview of France, England, and other parts of Europe in the 14th century as it follows the ancestors and life of Enguerrand VI de Coucy. It's not exactly a biography, but it uses de Coucy's life to provide human interest and a way to structure Tuchman's history of the 14th century. Enguerrand de Coucy was an important man in France and married the king of England's daughter, so he moved in powerful circles.

 

I was worried that I might have made a mistake in choosing the audio for this but Nadia May is a great narrator and although lots and lots of information was thrown at me, I feel like I got something out of it. Audio still might not be the best way to go but even in print this book would have been long. As it should be, since it covers an entire century. It's like writing a history of the 20th century, but with more interpretation and fewer primary sources.

 

Anyway, some of the things that I got out of it were a better understanding of the different religious movements from that era and the general religious environment, a better understanding of chivalric romances, a better understanding or mediaeval attitudes, and lots of stuff about war at the time. I'm not sure how much of it will stick with me, but a reread eventually wouldn't be out of the question. There was certainly a lot of information to try to absorb, and some of it was a bit dry but overall it was quite interesting.

 

The 14th century was also the time of the schism of the two popes, so that part was entertaining. Tuchman starts into the 15th century and some of the changes that came about then but maintains her focus by contrasting it with the 14th century. This book was written 40 years ago but it seems to have aged fairly well.

 

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