A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

"Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . A great book, in a great historical tradition." ?Commentary The 14th century gives us back two contradictory images: a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and a dark time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world plunged into a chaos of war, fear and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing "Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . A great book, in a great historical tradition." ?Commentary The 14th century ...

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Title:A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
Author:Barbara W. Tuchman
Rating:
Genres:History
ISBN:A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
ISBN
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:677 pages pages

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century Reviews

  • Tony
    Jan 25, 2010
    The Calamitous 14th Century: a time of war, class struggle, taxation, endless litigation, ravaging disease, religious intolerance, Christian versus Moslem, feckless leaders, plenty of lust, torture, self-interest -- 'a distant mirror' indeed. We are not so different. Look back or just ...
  • El
    Aug 01, 2012
    This is what I thought the Hundred Years' War was all about. Apparently that's wrong. (Or maybe Tuchman is wrong, hmmm?) We pretty much all know what the Middle Ages was all about, we all have at least heard tell of the Hundred Years' War or the Black Death or the Papal Schism. Thos...
  • Grumpus
    Sep 04, 2017
    This low 2-star rating is on me. This book is full of interesting facts and history of this extended period and should be a ?must read? for anyone interested in this historical period. You?ve heard the expression, ?too much of a good thing?, right? Well, maybe it is just ...
  • Trevor
    May 26, 2009
    I have been recommended this book by many of my good reads friends, and so I?ve read it. My friend Eric?s review says simply, ?Normally, I have always enjoyed Barbara Tuchman's books, but this one, while very interesting, I felt I had to struggle a bit?. This is a very uncha...
  • Inder
    Nov 19, 2007
    Just got a nice hardbound copy of this for Christmas, so I'm set to read it again ... My dad is a Barbara Tuchman fan, so I grew up around this book. As a small child, I used to ponder with interest the scary cover art, which shows the arrival of the Forth Horseman of the Apocalypse...
  • Janis
    Dec 21, 2007
    Dense with detail, A Distant Mirror offers a shocking picture of life in 14th-century Europe including endless warfare, crusades, burdensome taxing of the lower classes, public punishment as a form of entertainment, highway robbers, and recurring plague. Tuchman weaves the history loos...
  • James
    Jun 07, 2009
    I still remember reading this book when it first was published. It is another readable and accessible history by that great non-academic historian Barbara Tuchman. I first encountered her work when I read The Proud Tower so my expectations were high. That they were exceeded suggests th...
  • Chrissie
    Dec 03, 2008
    Tuchman's books are always interesting, but usually they have more than one can absorb. For this reason, reading them is always a bit of a struggle. OK, I am merely speaking for myself. I am going to try to keep this review short, maybe a reaction to having just completed Tuchman's...
  • Aaron
    Aug 15, 2008
    I'm not quite sure how I came to read this strange and unwieldy book. It just kept popping up in my sights. For a while now, I've had a boyish fascination with the Middle Ages, intensified by a couple of years spent studying Old English in grad school, and nursed along since then with ...
  • Bruce
    Sep 21, 2011
    Tuchman published this book in 1978. In her preface she makes clear that she is interested in comparing the 14th century in Europe - a time of war, disease, social and economic dislocation, and general demoralization - with the two 20th century decades before the book?s publication. ...
  • Matt
    Nov 02, 2015
    My interest in medieval times is not incredibly strong; it is, in fact, relegated mostly to the hope of someday going to a Medieval Times restaurant. I?ve read Ken Follett?s two Kingsbridge novels, and I?ve been to a few Renaissance Fairs in my time (and eaten more than my share ...
  • Susan
    Nov 18, 2010
    I read a little more than half of this a couple of years ago and stopped. This time I read it all, for the discussion of my local book group. I really liked it--I've never NOT liked a Tuchman book. I admire the way she's able to follow one historical figure and still manage to tell the...
  • Jim
    Jan 29, 2015
    I tried to read this book several years ago and did not get very far, largely because I had no grounding in European history, but also because most of the people and place names are French which I find very difficult to follow. Recently I decided to give it another try however, partial...
  • Jill Hutchinson
    Aug 16, 2009
    I have been a Tuchman fan for years but put off reading this book because it concerned a period of history of which I was not particularly interested. Wrong!!! Chock full of details, it fills in all the details of a bloody, unenlightened time in history where war for no justifiable rea...
  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    Oct 15, 2012
    I first gave this massive doorstop book a try in my teens, and the immense detail, I think, is what defeated me. I remember finding it dry and tedious (a complaint echoed in the few negative reviews.) The book's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness--its density. This is an i...
  • Kalliope
    May 05, 2012
    What an extraordinary read it is when one book is as action packed as thirty riveting novels. And if it also contains rich and erudite disquisitions and is narrated in a language as clear and flowing as water from a spring, then the volume must be given a preferential place i...
  • Chris Gager
    Jan 25, 2017
    Just started. Looks interesting ... Well, it IS interesting, but kind of dry, as at least one other reviewer has noted. It's going to take a while! Continuing to enjoy this book as the author is doing a fine job of combining the informative with reading pleasure. So far it's a bi...
  • Cathy DuPont
    Apr 20, 2013
    While I mostly enjoyed reading Tuchman's comprehensive book on the 14th Century, it was TMI. I'm not writing a thesis nor a college paper. I read this for the enjoyment of knowing more about the century when the Black Plague decimated the world. Well, I got that and much much more....
  • Matt Brady
    Feb 27, 2013
    The Hundred Years War, the Papal Schism, the Black Death, peasant uprisings, the death of chivalry, crusades, assassinations, tournaments, all these things and more Tuchman explores through an examination of the life of one man, Enguerrand de Coucy. Scion of perhaps the most powerful a...
  • Max
    May 31, 2016
    The Four Horsemen had their way in the fourteenth century. Tuchman portrays a brutal decadent European society terrorized and demoralized by the plague, war, violence and deprivation. She focuses on France, England and the Italian city-states from 1350 to 1400. The religious leaders we...
  • Hana
    Oct 29, 2013
    I was a little worried at the start that 600 pages of 14th century history might be, shall we say, a bit too much. There is no denying the book is long and very detailed and at times it was a struggle, but every time I was about to give up after yet another pointless battle Tuchman wo...
  • Jeanette
    Jul 28, 2015
    This is just a reaction for the 4 or 5 chapter revisit I made back to this excellent history. Having read the entire decades ago, and also having used it for some reference referrals for others at different times, I wanted to read again about the cracks appearing in serfdom, the agricu...
  • Beth
    Nov 06, 2012
    I remember noticing this book as a kid, before I knew the meaning of the word ?calamitous.? It was sitting on one of my Dad?s bookshelves, and I found myself intrigued by the title, mentally picturing an ornate enchanted mirror that reflected images from far off centuries. Wh...
  • WarpDrive
    Feb 06, 2013
    Beutifully written and very detailed book. Recommended to all people genuinely interested in the history of the period. It is not about knights in gleaming armour rescuing and seducing defenseless ladies, but about a potent and credible mixture of well researched historical truth and g...
  • Marita
    Jun 15, 2014
    A comprehensive who's who and what's what of 14th century Europe. ...
  • Greg Strandberg
    Apr 13, 2013
    I have to take a bit of a different tact on this book than many other reviewers. Let me start off by saying that I liked the book. I'm not going to say I really liked it because I found it a bit dry. And when I say dry, I mean I was losing my place, or forgetting what I'd just read. ...
  • Glenn Russell
    Mar 21, 2014
    A Distant Mirrorr by Barbara W. Tuchman is, on one level, a seven hundred page encyclopedia of the 14th century?s political, military, religious, social, cultural and economic history. Since Ms. Tuchman is a first-rate writer, on still another level, the book is a compelling, per...
  • Christopher (Donut)
    Feb 08, 2018
    This is the second time I have 'read' this on audio. The first time was on tape, so, a long time ago. I had to downgrade my opinion of this book on a second reading. Based on an attempt to read The Proud Tower, I realized that Barbara Tuchman could barely grasp the inner motives of ...
  • William1
    Sep 27, 2013
    A vivid and detailed look into a lost world. The major players are The Black Death, The Hundred Years War, the sick, uproarious joke of chivalric valor, The Papal Schism, ruinous taxation, serfdom, petty feudal institutions, the utter absence of reason among the so-called ruling classe...
  • Michael Finocchiaro
    Sep 01, 2016
    My grandmother had this book on her shelf for years and I read it as a kid and loved it. Of course, I knew the King Arthur legends and pretended to be a knight in shining armour like any other young boy, but reading about the insanity of this period, the rage of the Black Death that ki...