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The History of the Medieval World gave us that history up to the end of the First Crusade, with this book picking up in the wake of that around 1100 and carrying us to 1453--the approximate beginning of the Renaissance. So why is this book labeled like this when practically every other historian agrees on the labeling? As near as I can tell, it's because this is when the texts of the Ancient Greeks were first rediscovered, just as the title claims. I realize the devil's in the details, but that's pedantic. This book, like the two volumes before it, is for general audiences that want to see how the pieces fit together. Confusing people with something that arbitrary seems pointless.
What is not pointless is this book. As with the Ancient and Medieval World volumes before it, this book covers all of the hotspots of the globe, East and West. To see how the world of the Samurai line up with that of the Crusaders or the Mongols is just astounding. If you've not read the previous two volumes, get them. Everything in these books serves to show the cause and effect of historical events and the people who rode through them. Names and dates are there as references, but the personalities are touched upon so as to give the overview some meaning and provide that perfect springboard for future learning.
I really want a book on the Renaissance and Reformation now so as to continue the flow of these works. When viewed through the long lens, it's easy to see how the world we live in today is built upon all of that which has gone before. To the people who lived back then, it's always the modern world, just as ours is for us. Why there aren't more history books written like this, I'll never know. Kudos all around for this book and for its predecessors for making history both broad enough to see the big picture and detailed enough to understand it in context as the sum of its parts.
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This was a very enjoyable listen. It took a little while but once I settled into this book I really enjoyed John Lee's reading. I am not a student of this time period in history and this book gave me a great broad understanding of and exposure to many events I had heard of (and many I had't) but would have been hard pressed to explain or put in context. This sparked my interest in specific subjects that I can delve into deeper. I doubt a knowledgable history buff would learn much new or hear any critical insights.
In the end that is where the book fell a bit short for me. I suppose there was so much material to cover that there was little room for historical retrospective. I was also hoping for more background on the influence of ancient writers and thought and how it shaped events.It would have been more engaging if there was more focus on the development of thought and knowledge and the struggles it caused.
Ultimately the history of this time period (and alas much of human history) can be summed up thus .... dates, Kings, Popes, conquests, mass murders, ruthless power struggles and untimely deaths ... rinse and repeat. There were very few heros beyond the inventors, artists and thinkers.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
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I struggled with this then eventually gave up part way through. I know I should be broad-minded and all-embracing but the narrative 'jumps' all round the globe and in parts is very difficult to follow.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful