This isn't a bad book about the period but I can't really recommend it. The writing is often awkward and repetitive (particularly in the first 1/3 orThis isn't a bad book about the period but I can't really recommend it. The writing is often awkward and repetitive (particularly in the first 1/3 or so of the book). It's as if the author wrote a series of papers on each of the topics he addresses but didn't polish a final draft, removing material already covered.
And despite the subtitle, there's little in the way of "people's" voices. I understand that peasants, soldiers, women didn't leave much in the way of written sources but there's a wealth of data from other sources that could have informed his chapters on each of these groups; and it's not as if he's unaware of them. Several times he raises potentially fascinating topics but goes nowhere with them. For example, in "Women and War: Power and Persecution," Green mentions the growing economic and social power women enjoyed in the first half of the 15th century (only to lose it in the second) but drops it to focus on Joan of Arc's meteoric career, though he concedes that she was in no way representative of a typical woman of any class.
Green does provide a nice, 20-plus-page bibliography that could be mined for further reading....more
I gave this book a little more than one hundred pages to capture me but it never did. The writing is hopelessly clumsy and the dialogues inane. The auI gave this book a little more than one hundred pages to capture me but it never did. The writing is hopelessly clumsy and the dialogues inane. The author's prose has the unfortunate effect of making the characters lifeless and uninteresting. I have little sense of the milieux that produce Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu, the novel's protagonists. Though it's obvious Liu's put a great deal of thought into the East Asian-flavored world of Dara, I often felt that I was reading a Wikipedia entry.
This is my opinion, of course. Other people (some of them GR Friends even :-) will find something in this book that speaks to them, even if only to make a long bus ride pass more pleasantly. But for my part, I'm not going to devote more time to a story I have no interest in and an author whose style grates on my ear....more
The problem with books of this nature is that either the "death of an idea" is such a no-brainer that it doesn't deserve an essay or it's the bete noiThe problem with books of this nature is that either the "death of an idea" is such a no-brainer that it doesn't deserve an essay or it's the bete noire of the author. For example, in this volume one can find essays that call for the final interment of String Theory alongside others that as vigorously defend it. Or materialists who deny that consciousness persists after death alongside others who argue for the opposite.
The best essay in the collection - and what makes it worth reading - is Ian McEwan's, "Beware of Arrogance! Retire Nothing!"
A great and rich scientific tradition whould hang onto everything it has. Truth is not the only measure. There are ways of being wrong that help others to be right. Some are wrong, but brilliantly so. Some are wrong but contribute to method. Some are wrong but help found a discipline....
We need to remember how we got to where we are, and we'd like the future not to retire us. Science should look to literature and maintain a vibrant living history as a monument to ingenuity and persistence. We won't retire Shakespeare. Nor should we Bacon. (pp. 256-7)
Four Queens is an unpretentious, straight-forward narrative history of the 13th century in Western Europe told within the framework of the lives of thFour Queens is an unpretentious, straight-forward narrative history of the 13th century in Western Europe told within the framework of the lives of the daughters of the Count of Provence: Marguerite, queen of France; Eleanor, queen of England; Sanchia, Countess of Cornwall and (for a brief moment) Queen of the Romans (Germany); and Beatrice, Countess of Provence and Queen of Sicily (also for but a brief moment)....more