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am 16. Mai 2000
With painstaking detail and bittersweet humour, Tuchman delves into the history and events surrounding one of the greatest of the French knights. Enguerrand de Coucy is a knight caught between old and new world orders. Perhaps the highest example of a crumbling ideal - chivalry - he shows the fatal flaws in an oppressive system beginning to decay before his birth, leading to some of the greatest excesses within his lifetime, and finishing with the fall of the French monarchy in the 18th century.
Parts of Tuchman's tale are more gripping than an adventure novel, more humourous than a comedy, and more unbelievable than fiction. In fact, her story is so engaging because of its truth.
Anyone intersted in the Avignon Papacy, the Great Schism in the Church, Popes and Antipopes, the Black Plague, Feudalism, Protestantism, the persecution of witches and sorcery, the prelude to the Renaissance, Italian banking, Antisemitism, and the Medieval in general should adore it.
I must admit, my jaw dropped several times while reading this book, particularly during the chapters focusing on the schism in the church. It is not easy to escape the image of a furious Pope screaming anathema and excommunication from the walls of the Castel Sant'Angelo upon the beseigers below. Unbelievable arrogance and mercilessness seem the hallmark of the times, and Tuchman captures the essence of these with great alacrity.
Following de Coucy lets us experience life through the attitudes of someone placed firmly in the time. While many of his attitudes may seem foreign to us, his more modern qualities allow us to identify, if perhaps not sympathize, with him.
I highly recommend this book both as an introduction to the study of the 14th century, and as fascinating reading for anyone interested in the human condition.
0Kommentar| 5 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 7. Dezember 1999
I am always amazed at people who don't seem to enjoy or understand the relevance of history. Trying to understand the present without a knowledge of the past is like trying to figure out what's wrong with a clock by examining its face. It's like being a leaf that doesn't know it's part of a tree.
In Tuchman's comprehensive look at 14th century Europe, we see the beginnings of our modern market economy, the notion of romantic love, trade unions, urbanization, nationalism, anti-semitism (portents of the Holocaust), ideas of chivalry in warfare being torn down by advances in technology, and on and on. I found this book to be endlessly fascinating, told in a lively and engaging manner.
If you don't think civilization has made much progress, read this book. It will give you a new perspective on just how far we've come--despite the sometimes eerie similarities.
11 Kommentar| 3 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 16. Juni 2000
I read this book in 1989 and it has had a profound effect on how I view the Middle Ages and indeed how I understand history in general. It really is a fascinating book, so intelligent and very readable. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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am 22. Dezember 1996
A Distant Mirror is a worthy addition to Barbara Tuchman's
reportoire of historical works. She brings to life the events
of 14th century Europe and exposes chivalry and the church
for what they really were: Corrupt people subjugating the
population of Europe.

She uses the life of Enguerrand de Coucy as the centerpiece of
her treatment of the times. A prominent, but historically obscure
noble, Coucy is shown vividly in all his elegance at court and
bloodthirstiness in slaughtering peasants who attempted to assert
their freedom.

No one can come away from this book without seeing the 14th
century in human terms.

Ms. Tuchman's work, as are all of her books, is a challenging
read. Her grammar, although impeccable, is complex and imaginative.

Not for the light reader, but fascinating for anyone who wants
to learn about history without sugarcoating or nationalistic
0Kommentar| Eine Person fand diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 24. Mai 2013
Für meinen Geschmack viel zu detailreich. Ich habe eine journalistisch gefärbte Einführung in das ausgehende Mittelalter erwartet, und der Einstieg ist tatsächlich großartig. Die ersten Kapitel habe ich gelesen wie einen Thriller. Erstaunlich, wie wenig Zutreffendes ich über die Zeit wusste. Doch nach etwa einem Viertel wurden die Aneinanderreihungen von Namen und Ereignissen ermüdend. Ich habe immer mehr und immer längere Stellen nur noch überflogen, bis ich nach zwei Dritteln aufgegeben und nur noch den Epilog gelesen habe.

Dass das Buch mir nicht sonderlich gefallen hat, ändert nichts an seiner Qualität. "A Distant Mirror" ist ein beeindruckendes Werk und es hat eine Menge Leser begeistert, das geht aus den meisten anderen Rezensionen hervor. Auch ich habe zahlreiche neue Erkenntnisse mitgenommen, obwohl ich nicht bis zum Schluss durchgehalten habe. Mein Blick auf die letzten Jahrzehnte des Mittelalters, und dadurch auf das gesamte Mittelalter, ist ein anderer als zuvor. Ich halte es aber für wichtig, darauf hinzuweisen, dass dies keine kurzweilige Lektüre ist, sondern viel Zeit, Konzentration und Interesse am Thema erfordert.
0Kommentar| 2 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 12. April 1999
Maybe not an easy read for some, but if you are interested in Europe history, this is a must read. For those looking for a historical novel, look elsewhere. This is the real thing; stranger than fiction. The author develops her ideas and conclusions without hitting you over the head with them. Her style is very readable and narrative. Yes, there is a lot of detail here and you may not want to read it in one sitting, but I have read it twice over the years and plan to again.
Her other books are great too: Guns of August, The Proud Tower, the March of Folly, etc.
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am 7. Mai 2000
I can't recommend this book highly enough. Barbara Tuchman obviously had a really good time in the 14th century, and you get to have a good time, too. I challenge you to find a more vivid and complete picture of this period, one as free of bias as this, or one as well written. I first read this book 12 years ago, and when I search bookstores for "popular" history, this book is still my standard.
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am 13. August 1997
This is a scholarly yet highly entertaining account of this period. At times this book was so compelling that I could hardly put it down. Although it is a history, in many ways it reads as a thriller. I highly recommend to anyone in search of academic information and entertainment
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am 7. Februar 1999
Having come to this book as a stranger to the 14th Century, I was mostly impressed. Tuchman's mobile, novel-like narrative makes learning about these people and events--many of whom/which are dismal--almost painless and often exciting. I recommend this book to anyone such as myself with an interest in, but not much experience with, this subject.
However, I do not think that this book is as well done as the author's book on Stilwell. It seems obvious to me that she is more comfortable with Vinegar Joe and 20th Century China (which she renders marvelously comprehensible), than with Enguerrand de Coucy and 14th Century France. She does an equally first-rate job with events in both books, but her portraiture is decidedly better when her subjects are more contemporary. This could be blamed on the lack of good records from the earlier period. But that doesn't seem to be the whole story. While she admirably strives to understand the Medieval mind, her inability to transcend a modern outlook is everywhere apparent. She recognizes many of the differences. But she doesn't seem to feel them. This is probably why her characterizations of Italian proto-realpolitikers, such as the Visconti brothers, are more effective than those of some of the central, Christian characters.
I don't think that my criticism rises to the level of a reason not to read this book. It's very worthwhile. Perhaps interested readers should try something that I am finding helpful: Enjoy the book; but supplement it with some other excellent book that is more specialized concerning the Medieval mind, such as C.S. Lewis's The Discarded Image. This may sound too much like work, but it's a great way to breathe life into the characters of Tuchman's otherwise wonderful danse macabre.
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am 11. Juli 1996
Barbara Tuchman's work is in the genre of the essayists of the 19th century. Like them, she is erudite, humorous, and
at times, disorganized.
But how could it be otherwise? Imagine writing such a work about the 20th century, attempting to describe for
someone 600 years hence how we have
lived over these last hundred years, and how we have changed.

This is a work which some may wish to plow though in several days; others will
put it by their best arm chair and read a section at a time.

Given the horror of Bosnia, the tedium of politics, and the
daily drudge (which at times seems in spirit to be remarkably similar to that which Tuchman describes) such a work of Tuckman's can lift us up and help us to see beyond our own calamitous
century -- plus ca change; plus la meme chose.


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