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A Short History of the Middle Ages, Third Edition Paperback – April 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1442601048 ISBN-10: 1442601043 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 399 pages
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division; 3 edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442601043
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442601048
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lucidly written, clearly structured, stunningly comprehensive, and highly accessible, the new edition of Rosenwein's "A Short History of the Middle Ages" should be required reading in any course that surveys medieval culture. The book will provide much needed historical background to students in many disciplines, including medieval literature, theology, and art. The inclusion of sensitively chosen visual material, an excellent selection of maps, and the newly-added 'Seeing the Middle Ages' feature will appeal especially to students of art history, who will benefit immeasurably from using Rosenwein's book as a companion volume to any standard text on medieval art." - Elina Gertsman, Assistant Professor, Medieval Art, Southern Illinois University Carbondale "Elegantly written and beautifully produced, Rosenwein's "A Short History of the Middle Ages" is a treat for teachers and students alike. Clear and concise, the volume offers a fresh approach to the history of medieval Europe which blends exciting new analysis with careful fidelity to the sources. Luxurious images, deftly incorporated into the book's narrative, bring the period alive and provide opportunities for deeper discussion and reflection. Rosenwein is a masterful storyteller; her book will inspire and delight." - Fiona Griffiths, New York University "Non-medievalist and habitual scorner of textbooks, I have used, enjoyed, and appreciated this book in earlier editions. It is clear, thoughtful, deeply expert, and refreshingly ecumenical. The maps and charts are good and useful, and the illustrations gorgeous, splendidly legible, well captioned, and put to thorough use. The real, rare treasure, though, is the lovelyEnglish, at once limpid and graciously respectful of student intelligence." - Thomas V. Cohen, York University

Review

Non-medievalist and habitual scorner of textbooks, I have used, enjoyed, and appreciated this book in earlier editions. It is clear, thoughtful, deeply expert, and refreshingly ecumenical. The maps and charts are good and useful, and the illustrations gorgeous, splendidly legible, well captioned, and put to thorough use. The real, rare treasure, though, is the lovely English, at once limpid and graciously respectful of student intelligence.

(Thomas V. Cohen, York University)

Customer Reviews

This book is very short for such breadth.
Joshua G. Feldman
Received the book faster than it said and the book is in great shape!
Vicki Walden
I appreciate this book more with each reading.
David A. Storm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joshua G. Feldman on December 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great introduction to medieval history in Europe and the Near East. Rosenwein starts with the fall of the Roman Empire and takes us all the way to the start of the high middle ages. Along the way we get the meat of the dark ages - one of the most interesting periods in my book. This book is very short for such breadth. The pace is incredibly rapid yet the book never feels rushed. The brevity is an asset - the book is easy and quick to read. It actually lives in our bathroom (!) Yet the tone is scholarly and even handed.

There some very good content here. Focus is evenly split amongst Byzantine Greek, Islamic Arabia, North Africa & Al Andalus, and Europe. The most powerful insight Rosenwein gives us in that all these disparate cultures are the descendants of ancient Rome - each in their own unique but related ways. There are timelines and family trees with successions of kings. These listings are not comprehensive, but give you a good taste. The book is beautifully illustrated. This isn't the meal - but rather an exquisite appetizer. Recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on September 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful introductory medieval text. No introductory text can be all things to all people, but this one is still remarkable in its ability to address the most pressing issues. If Amazon allowed half stars I might have gone with 4 1/2 instead of 5, but it is closer to 5 stars than 4. The things that Rosenwein does VERY well include:

1) Chapter one is background on the Classical/Roman era to give students some perspective on the origin of the Middle Ages.

2) Inclusion of cultures beyond Western Europe is a huge plus. There is adequate coverage of events in Byzantium, the Islamic World, and later, of the Ottomans.

3) Includes excellent discussion of the art of the times. This includes the excellent, full page, high quality color pictures of relevent art and architecture.

4) A quality book overall. The maps are also often in full color, with a few in black in white.

5) A very readable academic style. The edge between being "unacademic" and being so scholarly as to be unaccessable is a fine one. Rosenwein sticks to it very well, seldom falling to either side.

There are, of course, areas of interest where I wish that she would go into more detail, but as other reviewers and commenters have noted, this IS an intro text, designed to be "short" and also it is aimed at the average undergrad who may not have a strong background in history. Professors constantly struggle with finding good quality books that students will actually read! A good professor will be able to adequately augment in the places where more depth is needed.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for the classroom, and for anyone who is interested in a broad view of 1200 years of history, this is an enjoyable introduction, although if military/political history of only Western Europe (France, England, Germany, Italy) is your only interest, this may not be the book for you.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David A. Storm on February 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I appreciate this book more with each reading. It is good to start off with. As the author writes in the introduction, some people want a short history of the middle ages. After reading the book the first time, I wanted more, and so I read several other books. When I came back to review, I realize that every sentence is important. The author has done an amazing job of outlining the forest without getting tangled up in the trees.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By westwind on March 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, a college text, is a sad commentary on the state of education today. In her summation, Rosenwein asks what remains of the Middle Ages, and answers`colonialism' (I'm not making this up) but leaves out the birth of the national state, the birth of capitalism, the development of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and Islam - which is perhaps why she can say that only little `bits and pieces' of the middles ages remain, mostly changed beyond recognition, but the past is interesting because it is `not us.'

What complete and utter nonsense. Oh yes, and her assessment of the fall of Rome and disappearance of cities is: "the rich won." The rich won? Yes, they refused to pay taxes, while the middle class Roman townspeople of the 4th century had to make themselves serfs because the Roman taxes had become ruinous. Taxes are the only cause for the disappearance of cities she mentions. This is not only weak history, it is weak education. She didn't mention the loss of literacy, a money economy, and law and order, because she's busy telling us the barbarians were just like Romans. She also states that the Roman elites were not surprised or upset when Rome fell, as they were used to barbarian leaders.

Here's an example of her viewpoint and prose style: "In other respects as well, the new rulers took over Roman institutions; they issued laws, for example." It's discouraging to think this is considered college level history.

I've just read two other fascinating and intelligent histories of this period, which illuminate the tremendous importance of medieval economic and political developments to the modern world: "Dawn of a New Era: 1250-1453" by E. Cheyney, and The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350" by Robert S. Lopez.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Voulgaropoulos on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Rosenwein does a good job displaying appropriate pictures, discussing the right time frame, and incorporating Eastern Europe and the Ottoman empire into typical Western European history. However, many details are left out while discussing kings and battles. Much is said about the thriving arts, and a great selection of paintings and works from the medieval period have been chosen for this text. However, None of the chapters flow easily, and jump from the west to the east, from the thriving univeristy concept to what is seldom said about popes at this time. Important information is discussed with limited detail. Large text and frequent large pictures take up much room in the text which could be used for more text. At time the reading level strays from middle school to college and back. It should have been expanded and edited by more collegues/scholars.
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A Short History of the Middle Ages, Third Edition
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