A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Version: Unabridged
Author: Barbara W. Tuchman
Narrator: Nadia May
Genres: History
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: December 2005
# of Units: 23 CDs
Length: 16 hours, 39 minutes
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The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

Barbara Tuchman reveals both the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived. Here are the guilty passions, loyalties and treacheries, political assassinations, sea battles and sieges, corruption in high places and a yearning for reform, satire and humor, sorcery and demonology, and lust and sadism on the stage. Here are proud cardinals, beggars, feminists, university scholars, grocers, bankers, mercenaries, mystics, lawyers and tax collectors, and, dominating all, the knight in his valor and "furious follies," a "terrible worm in an iron cocoon."

Reviews (1)

Better on Paper

Written by Seaweed on December 31st, 2010

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Barbara Tuchman was a brilliant historian and I used to love reading her books. I had read "A Distant Mirror" years ago, and now that I spend 10+ hours a week in the car, was looking forward to enjoying listening to this on CD. I got through about 10 hours and gave up. I think the book is well worth reading, but it is very difficult to listen to. Lots of French family and place names, skips around from decade to decade, etc. Couldn't follow it the way I could in book form.

Author Details

Author Details

Tuchman, Barbara W.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989), American historian, was born in New York City and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1933. A self-trained historian, she was a writer for the Nation and an editor for the US Office of War Information. In her later years she was a lecturer at Harvard and the US Naval War College. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for The Guns of August and in 1972 for Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45. She was awarded the 1978 Gold Medal for History from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.