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The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade Hardcover – February 22, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0393059755 ISBN-10: 0393059758 Edition: 1st

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The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade + The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople + The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bauer (The History of the Ancient World) continues her witty and well-written examination of world history with a volume that is rich in detail and intriguing in anecdotal information. In describing dramatic events (such as the worldwide –impact of the eruption of Krakatoa in 535 C.E., or civil war among the descendants of Charlemagne), near-legendary individuals (like the great general turned mercenary El Cid), and decisive historical movements from the fourth century C.E. to the beginnings of the 12th century, attention is effectively paid not only to western and eastern Europe but to North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Far East, South Asia, and the Americas. The political and military rise and fall of rulers or would-be rulers and the prominence of religion in matters of conscience and state give force and power to the narrative as does the constant impact of simple human emotion and ambition on the flow of history. A bit overwhelming in its scope, Bauer's work nevertheless proves perfectly, and entertainingly, that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 20 illus., 85 maps. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

In this second title in the author’s projected four-volume world history, narratives of monarchs, generals, and clerics transport the reader through centuries of tumult culminating in the First Crusade’s capture of Jerusalem in 1099. Intentionally general interest, Bauer’s book provides a vital scorecard in the form of rosters of rulers and dozens of maps that track successions aplenty, of legitimate heirs and usurpers alike. Rightful possession of power, as in Bauer’s History of the Ancient World (2007), thematically infuses this work’s welter of accounts of imperial rises and falls in Europe, the Near East, India, China, and Japan. If it was a truth universally acknowledged that the divine sanctioned the secular, the immediacies of the latter often required doctrinal or political adjustments in the former (as in Constantine’s Council of Nicaea in 325), furnishing (in addition to pillage) the dramatic momentum to the historical episodes Bauer presents. Demonstrating insight about invariably partial sources, humanism about actors’ motivations, and an apt dramatic touch, Bauer parlays her capacious knowledge of history into the exciting and terrifying subject it can be. --Gilbert Taylor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (February 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393059758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393059755
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan was born in 1968, grew up in Virginia, and was educated at home by pioneering parents, back when home education was still unheard of. She worked as a professional musician, wore a costume at Colonial Williamsburg, toured with a travelling drama group, galloped racehorses at a Virginia racetrack, taught horseback riding, worked in radio and newspaper ad sales, learned enough Korean to teach a Korean four-year-old Sunday school, and served as librarian and reading tutor for the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Center in Williamsburg, Virginia.

In her less haphazard adult life, she earned an M.A., M.Div., and Ph.D. She has taught at the College of William & Mary in Virginia for the last sixteen years. Susan is married and the mother of four.

Susan's most recent book for Norton, The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade (2010), is the second in a four-volume series providing a narrative world history. Look for the first volume, The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome, as well!

Her previous book, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (2003), is a guide to reading the classic works of fiction, poetry, history, autobiography, and drama. Norton also published The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (with co-author Jessie Wise); originally published in 1999, this bestselling guide to education in the classical tradition was revised and updated in 2004 and again in 2009.

For Peace Hill Press, Susan has written a four-volume world history series for children, The Story of the World, for Peace Hill Press. Volume 1, Ancient Times, was published in 2002 (revised edition 2006); Volume 2, The Middle Ages, in 2003 (revised edition 2007); and Volume 3, Early Modern Times, in 2004. The final volume, The Modern Age, was published in 2006. She has also written a best-selling elementary writing program, Writing With Ease.

Susan is also the author of The Art of the Public Grovel (Princeton University Press) and many articles and reviews. Visit her blog at http://www.susanwisebauer.com/blog.

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Customer Reviews

The other great production part of the book is that there are 2 different footnotes.
LikeBooksTooMuch
This is a companion volume to Ms. Bauer's "The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome" which is also excellent.
J. Swavely
Overall, a very enjoyable and recommended to anyone interested in general history during this period.
AL

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

147 of 152 people found the following review helpful By LikeBooksTooMuch on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After spending too much of my life on technology and engineering, I have been spending my last 10 years reading History for Fun. It is my pleasure and my passion.
I'm still learning a lot about history so I can't claim to be an expert.
I can't claim that Bauer is "correct". But at this point, I read multiple histories from multiple authors to generate my own view.

But Bauer's book is a great place to start to get a readable over-view of "medieval" history to allow one to start to drill down into areas and times of particular interest. (Or maybe just get enough to move on to the next era.)

But this, by far, is the most readable history books that cover such a long period of time over such a wide area (the whole earth).

Why?

The chapters average around 10 pages. Each chapter will cover a period of about 20-50 years in a particular area (Western Europe, Middle East, India, Korea, Japan, China, etc). It makes a nice nugget. As time change, an area may be "West Francia", "Spain", or "North Africa".
Each chapter is relatively self-contained, as much as possible, within the context of a 600 page continuing narrative. Each chapter is easy to read, fascinating, and there always seems to be a little "humor" in the background.

This is a narrative; about kings, queens, popes, dukes, eunuchs, states, nations, wars... "Classic narrative history", it doesn't spend any time talking about what it meant to be a young boy in Korea in 814 or marriage rites in Persia or bathing habits in France. (Thank God.)

Susan Bauer is a great writer, but paired with Norton Press, it makes a great book. The production is just great.
Each chapter has at least one map. The map covers the area being discussed in the chapter.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A. Smith on January 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Susan Bauer has written a fabulous history of the time period often referred to as the "dark ages." It was, of course, an enormous task to summarize 1000 years of history into 650 pages, but Bauer did a wonderful job. It is superbly organized, and Bauer's prose is engaging. Each chapter has at least one map marking places indicated in the text, and the chapters are brief. It's organization also makes it easy to use as a reference if some readers aren't ambitiously motivated to read the entire volume. I heartily recommend this book for the family library.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have pretty mixed feelings about this book. It's certainly more entertaining than most history textbooks, and probably a good introduction to Medieval history. Still, I wouldn't really recommend it as a popular history book that one could relax and read. It jumps around too much and throws out too many names, dates, and events too quickly. After reading it through, I felt I could barely remember much of it. I'd recommend using this book more asa reference or reading chapters about certain periods of interest. The chapters don't really connect in any significant way anyways. Ultimately, I'd like to see this book - or one like it - used as a high school textbook.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Freyja's Books on February 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up because I didn't know much about the time period it covers, from about 300 - 1100 CE, and this is probably as perfect a book as you can get for filling in the information about the general narrative of the time. Although the book is very informative, it obviously cannot fit everything that there is to know about the era into 666 pages -- consider it an introduction, not comprehensive. Most of the juicy details and day-to-day experiences and thoughts of the people in this time period are left out because the book focuses on sweeping political changes like conquests and regime changes. The author has decided to include all of world history in this book, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, European, and American, although the Muslim and Christian world get the vast majority of the space. Except for when the armies of Islam were extending their borders from Spain to India, I felt like this inclusion of all of world history into one short book was awkward and telling too many disconnected stories at once. Since I have no interest in Asian history during this period, I could have skipped those chapters entirely and have lost none of the narrative. I will leave it to other readers to determine whether or not an all-inclusive approach is best.

I only give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it takes a just-the-facts approach, which will bore most general readers looking for a good story. If you're not at all interested in the struggles of royal families to hold onto power, this book is not for you. Dynasties and their territories receive far more attention than peoples, culture, and dramatic events here.

Since I consider this book a good introduction to the time period, I will research the subjects that I found interesting in other books, which seems to be the best use of this book.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hassler on April 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book is a political chronology of the known world from about 300 to 1100 AD. Its common threads are the efforts at political control, the role of religion in politics, and the nearly constant (military) interactions between diverse and growing populations, the proto-nationalities that gradually gel into the nations we know today. There is little information on culture, economy, engineering and the like. Instead, you get an overall feel for what a medieval empire meant, to quote the author: "a conquered mass of peoples, some in constant rebellion, with on-going struggles for power at the top and an ever-present tendency for the whole thing to fly apart." You also get a feel for how the modern religions took shape and spread. In particular, the author illustrates the political advantages to having a single, homogenous religion with uniform doctrine, perhaps begging the question that asks why so many people insist on a god in the first place.

It is a clear, fast-paced, well-written narrative. The short chapters are arranged so that if you wish to skip the sections on certain regions in order to keep your focus on another area, you can do this without skipping a beat. And as one reviewer pointed out, at least one map plus a timeline of rulers is placed in every chapter, immensely helping a non-historian (me) keep track of the locale and people covered by that chapter. Highly recommended for a big-picture view of the period, as a reference to political and demographic change, or simply as food for thought.

If I may, for those seeking a detailed study of the political, economic and social structures of ancient Rome that carried on in various forms after the empire ceased, might I suggest, "The Inheritance of Rome", by Chris Wickham. For a perspective on the political influence of Christian doctrine, consider, "The Closing of the Western Mind", by Charles Freeman.
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