Gladys's Reviews > A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. Tuchman
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's review
Dec 23, 2011

really liked it

I enjoyed A Distant Mirror, particularly the way its wealth of detail and narrative prose immersed me in 14th Century life. As the title implies, reading about a time that is both very different and very similar to the present inspires some interesting reflections on human nature. While the western world certainly has come a long way, it seems that there are some aspects of human behavior (greed, politicking, impulsiveness, violence) that will always be with us at a macro and a micro level. Tuchman's focus, which often turns to war and battle, also illustrates what was important to the people of the Middle Ages. I would have liked to have known more about social customs, family life, and the like, but unfortunately those aspects of 14th Century life took a backseat to military and religious issues.
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Overall, a well written and readable historical study -- recommended to anyone interested in this time period and willing devote some time to a long, but ultimately fascinating book.

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