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A Distant Mirror:  The Calamitous 14th Century
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ART - ARCHITECTURE - CULTURE > A DISTANT MIRROR - BOOK AS A WHOLE and FINAL THOUGHTS - OCTOBER 24th – OCTOBER 30th

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Oct 26, 2011 12:10AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments This is the BOOK AS A WHOLE and FINAL THOUGHTS thread. This is a spoiler thread meaning that any part of the book can be discussed here at any time.

Week Eighteen - OCTOBER 24th – October 30th -> Final Thoughts - Book as a Whole and INDEX

So if you do not like "spoilers" I would suggest you remain on the weekly threads.

For those of you who have read the book before and want to comment, or for those who finish books or a group selection early, this is always the thread where you can write your thoughts and post your ideas and final opinions about the book selection as a whole.

Please be mindful to be considerate of the book and the author at all times and show respect for the selection which was voted for by the group membership. Also be respectful of other group members' differing opinions.

Bentley

A Distant Mirror  The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchmanby Barbara W. TuchmanBarbara W. Tuchman


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Oct 08, 2011 06:52AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments I have opened this thread because some folks may have skirted right by and have finished reading the book already. If you are one of those please feel free to post your comments here. This is not a non spoiler thread.

Also remember that for now the discussion is still going on....via the weekly non spoiler threads which you can access depending upon where you are in the reading.


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments Folks, you will notice that I tried to get the weekly threads that folks will still be contributing to at the top of the pack as you catch up. But all are still there but reordered.


Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2063 comments I finished! Wow, what a ride. I'm glad there are historians who write books like this. I have no interest in reading all those original documents. Thanks to Tuchman and her staff for slogging through it all and making it somewhat coherent!

Of course some of her perspectives and interpretations are... not concrete. But that is the way it goes when the record is incomplete, contradictory, or both.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments Congrats on getting through the book and glad you liked it. It is great to have somebody sort through all of the original docs for us and distill the information into a fine book.


Mary Ellen | 139 comments Elizabeth, agreed! I marvel at how much stuff Tuchman had to keep track of, how many obscure writings, characters, etc. I'd heard of some of the folks in her "cast of characters" of course, but not of her centerpiece: Coucy!

I think Coucy was a great find and great choice for the focal character. His personality remained a mystery but he was a real-life Forrest Gump in being present for so many key events of his lifetime. (I wonder if he could write? Seems like no one kept a diary in those days, or none that survived. Maybe the renaissance idea of the importance of the individual affected this?)


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments Yes Vince - Coucy was a lucky find for Tuchman.


Vince (vpbrancato) | 698 comments So this was a great book but a lot of work to read and to try to sort out all the characters and places etc.

I really liked it and I liked reading it with the group and the other perspectives for which I thank all of you who participated.

Regarding dairies Mary Ellen I am curious how comfortably the "noble" class wrote - I think it was mentioned that Coucy dictated his will.


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments Glad you liked it Vince and hope Mary Ellen finds her way here to this new folder so that she can converse with you.


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments Here is a post that Vince made on another thread and because it had a rating; I am moving it in its entirety to this thread. I left a copy of the note below without the rating on the previous thread as well.

Vince stated:


Yes Elizabeth - insightful comments

I liked this chapter and epilogue - in that it made the book friendly and understandable again.

It focused more on Coucy's activiites and experiences and that made it easier. I found the exploration of being a prisoner was very interesting - knowing those without ransom possibilities were disposed up. A modified Bataan Death march because you wanted to be able to sell the folks.
The reality that these men really and regularly exposed themselves to early and painful deaths - not that there was not already enough "tormenting" (steal/borrow the word) going on.

I wondered if it was a last Jewish anti - German jab that in the second to last paragraph of the book Ludendorff got the "anti culture" role of finishing destruction of the castle.

Thanks - but the difficulty reading leaves me leaving the book with three stars


Vince (vpbrancato) | 698 comments Well back again

I am going to hear Niall Ferguson speak later this week on his book the Civilization

Civilization  The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson Niall FergusonNiall Ferguson

I am reading the introduction on my Kindle (no cost for the sample) and I am ready now as I Sultan Murad II, Henry IV, the Dukes of Burgandy and Orleans, Tamerlane....................

Well it just struk me as seredipity that I read this just after finishing A Distant Mirror

A Distant Mirror  The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman Barbara W. TuchmanBarbara W. Tuchman

So if you have a kindle maybe you want to download and read what you can


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments Glad for the input Vince. And congrats for finishing the Tuchman book.


Vince (vpbrancato) | 698 comments Bentley wrote: "Glad for the input Vince. And congrats for finishing the Tuchman book."

thanks - just time problems - fighting hydro-fracking in New York these days -
now to finish Bill
By the way I didn't consider a star rating a "spoiler" but I can see it should not be there while the book is still in process of being read


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bentley | 24010 comments The ratings showing in the subject line are a real distraction and really belong in the book as a whole thread; not a great goodreads idea.

There is always something new showing up.

Good luck with completing Bill.


Mary Ellen | 139 comments Vince, I find your "Jewish anti-German jab" comment curious, since Tuchman mentioned that Ludendorff acted against the advice of his colleagues, presumably also German.

Happily, I did not find this book as hard to read, but only because I gave up on trying to keep track of the details early on! :)

I am taking away a sense of how utterly miserable life was in so many ways, especially for the peasantry, (though no picnic for the nobility, either; good point that they regularly exposed themselves to violent death. Even the jousts could be deadly, IIRC.) I have an image of constant toil, constant crushing tax burdens, poor diet. Meanwhile the twits at the top squandered unbelievable sums on fruitless military campaigns (some that never went anywhere!), even a single banquet. Let the revolution begin!


Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2063 comments I think I had your same trick for enjoying the book, Mary Ellen. Namely that I gave up trying to keep track of the details. Some of it is that I knew so little about the century, so I focused on the big picture type events. Learned a lot.


Vince (vpbrancato) | 698 comments Mary Ellen wrote: "Vince, I find your "Jewish anti-German jab" comment curious, since Tuchman mentioned that Ludendorff acted against the advice of his colleagues, presumably also German.

Happily, I did not find t..."


Hi

Si I am just reading this and Elizabeth's final comment now. Not sure why but I would mention in regard to your remark about "military campaigns" that if one goes to museums where weapons and other impliments of war are shown it has always struck me that disproportionate amounts of effort and time were spent developing and making and decorating these compared to other tools and impliments in almost any period of history.


Mch | 1 comments I am just learning how to use this site so please forgive me if this is in the wrong spot. I love the book; I haven't completed it yet. However, I was disappointed that she called Christine de Pizan a "pessimist". If anything, Christine was an advocate for and an example of the importance of women. It was an era where men allowed women to run just about everything while they were off making war yet wanted to refer to these same people as far inferior creatures. Christine used her power as France's first female professional writer to point out that women can do whatever men can and can do it well. She also points out that there is honor in the role of a woman, doing what traditionally comes her way and thus, women should be accorded respect. I see this as positive, not pessimistic.


message 19: by Kathy, Assisting Moderator - Health/Med/Science, Ancient History (new) - added it

Kathy (Kathy_H) | 2091 comments Mch wrote: "I am just learning how to use this site so please forgive me if this is in the wrong spot. I love the book; I haven't completed it yet. However, I was disappointed that she called Christine de Pi..."

It is never too late to post in a book thread. This thread is on the book as whole, but there are other threads for the book broken up in different sections. I am a Tuchman fan, but have not read this one. I might just read it and catch up with you.


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Books mentioned in this topic

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (other topics)
Civilization: The West and the Rest (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Barbara W. Tuchman (other topics)
Niall Ferguson (other topics)