A World Lit Only by Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age
A World Lit Only by Fire The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age Author:William Manchester From tales of chivalrous knights to the barbarity of trial by ordeal, no era has been a greater source of awe, horror, and wonder than the Middle Ages. In handsomely crafted prose, and with the grace and authority of his extraordinary gift for narrative history, William Manchester leads us from a civilization tottering on the brink of collapse t... more »o the grandeur of its rebirth-the dense explosion of energy that spawned some of history's greatest poets, philosophers, painters, adventurers, and reformers, as well as some of its most spectacular villains-the Renaissance.
"Lively and engaging, full of exquisite details and anecdotes that transform this period-usually murky-into a comprehensive tableau." --Dallas Morning News
"Manchester provides easy access to a fascinating age when our modern mentality was just being born." --Chicago Tribune« less
This is a wonderful book about the Middle Ages, well written and comprehensive. If you are interested in books about medieval times, I would also suggest Sea of Faith by Stephen O'Shea and Mysteries of the medeval World by Thomas Cahill. (All non-fiction)
For the reader who has good foundation in Medieval and Renaissance history. This is an interesting book because aside from accurate historical details about events, William Manchester also tells us about the more mundane and everyday details of the lives of the peasants, clergy and nobility. It is such an age of deceit and brutality and doesn't deserve the name of "AGe of Chivalry". Genny
It was a bit more scholarly than I expected based on the other reviews. Not too hard, just a bit "thick" for enjoyment reading. However I learned a lot and there were many interesting factoids about daily life during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. I enjoyed those bits more than the many discussions of historical figures that neither I nor probably 99% of readers have heard of. As stated, good but a bit dense.
I really enjoyed the parts of this book that I enjoyed, and seriously questioned the parts that I found raised too many questions in my mind about the author's credibility and methods of research. I will say that near the end, I was lying in bed wondering how Magellan would handle things before he died, and I think that is testimonial that much of this book was well written. The whole thing with Erasmus was a page turner for me. The Luther part went on a bit much and made me wonder what parts of the same time period we were glossing over so we could concentrate on Luther. Not that he isn't exceptionally significant...but he got the lion's share of the author's attention. Tyndale, who I really hoped to read more about, only got a few sentences. It's an example of how I wondered at the methods the author used to determine which aspects of the middle ages he would focus on. But then, that is part of the fun of personal research. I want to go read more on the questions raised.
I should also comment here on the way some modern researchers seem to obsess about the sex of the time period they're researching. Not so much the sexual mores, unless it's to prove a Christian person as a hypocrite as though there are no other such hypocrites, but the sex. This was not only unevenly dealt with in this book, but used as a wedge to forcibly prove some assumption of the author's. It was distasteful.