- Paperback: 468 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 10th edition (March 2, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0072955155
- ISBN-13: 978-0072955156
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Medieval Europe: A Short History, 10th Edition 10th Edition
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About the Author
C. Warren Hollister was Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, received his BA from Harvard University and his MA and PhD from UCLA. A Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, the Royal Historical Society (London), the Medieval Academy of Ireland, the Australian National University, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and Merton College, Oxford, he was founder and past president of the Charles Homer Haskins Society and served as President of the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies, the Medieval Association of the Pacific, the American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch, the North American Conference on British Studies, and was 1984 Centennial Program Chair of the American Historical Association, Chair of the University of California Press Editorial Board, and Chair of the national Development Committee for the College Board Advanced Placement Test in European History. Professor Hollister’s many books have run through more than thirty editions and have been translated into several languages. He has also written some fifty articles on medieval history. Professor Hollister has served on numerous editorial boards, including Albion, the American Historical Review, the Journal of British Studies, and the Journal of Mediaeval History. Among Professor Hollister’s other honors were the Centennial Lectureship of the University of Georgia, the 1987 Denis Bethell Memorial Lectureship of the Medieval Academy of Ireland (Dublin), the 1988 Wilkinson Memorial Lectureship of the University of Toronto, the 1990 Lansdowne Lectureship of the University of Victoria, the 1996 Wei Lun Visiting Professorship of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Triennial Book Prize of the Conference on British Studies, the E. Harris Harbison National Award for Distinguished Teaching (Princeton University), and the UC Santa Barbara Faculty Teaching Prize.
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First published by Dr. Hollister in 1964, the book is now in its Ninth Edition (2002). For this reason, some of the criticisms in the reviews pre-dating the most recent edition are unfounded. (I have a Second Edition, and it is but a shadow of the current volume.)
The work of updating the text has been taken over by Dr. Bennett of the University of North Carolina. I believe that the long legacy of the book and its many revisions reflect what does and does not work in an introductory course to the Medieval period. Dr. Bennett's touch is apparent in the steady but fair commentary given to the role of women throughout the long period.
Above all, the book is compact and well-organized. While, at times, it may proceed like an outline, that aspect is driven by its scope: Western Europe from late antiquity to the Renaissance, with additional commentary (for context) on Byzantium & the rise of Islam. In fact, the amount of information contained within its 397 pages (paperback version) is impressive.
Given its purpose, one cannot expect much digression into painting portraits of the times. What one can expect is a clear and direct exposition of the salient events and major trends of the Medieval period from all angles (political, religious, intellectual, social, economic, artistic, cultural). On that score, it squarely delivers.
The signature element of the discussion are the brief asides and analogies to 20th Century American society and culture. They only show up every once in awhile -- not enough to be distracting and certainly witty enough to bring a smile.
From "A Short History," I'd suggest proceeding with Cantor's "Civilization of the Middle Ages" and to the essays in the "Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe." After that, the door should be wide open to an investigation of whatever detailed aspect of the period a reader might want to pursue.
The best thing about the writing style of the book is the way it presents history in the form of ongoing dynamic tension: east v. west, church v. state, aristocracy v. peasants, invaders v. defenders, one nation v. another, reformers v. establishment, monarch v. nobility, etc. The tides of history are moved by such forces.
Bear in mind that this book is only a survey of medieval Europe, so everyone can say it doesn't cover some topic or another in enough detail. However, its lasting effect is that it introduces topics in such a way that it makes you want to move on to other sources to study some of them in more detail. As a first course, it does its job in whetting your appetite.
p.s. I'm not sure what's with the kooky price here. Find it used or in a library. Earlier editions are better.
p.p.s. My review applies only to the Hollister editions, not the work of Bennett.