Customer Reviews for

A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Highly readable!

Manchester's work in this volume is, admittedly, not scholarly in the usual sense of the term. That being said, this book is hard to put down. Manchester's style is engaging and he paints such a picture of medieval times that, upon reading him, one feels as if he has em...
Manchester's work in this volume is, admittedly, not scholarly in the usual sense of the term. That being said, this book is hard to put down. Manchester's style is engaging and he paints such a picture of medieval times that, upon reading him, one feels as if he has emerged from a brief sojourn in the era.

posted by Anonymous on June 29, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Interesting, but unreliable

It's well-written and interesting enough to read if you're into scandals and Medieval gossip. I read it like a history book at first, so I was shocked by some of the anecdotes Manchester presents as factual history. I'm glad I double-checked and did my research becaus...
It's well-written and interesting enough to read if you're into scandals and Medieval gossip. I read it like a history book at first, so I was shocked by some of the anecdotes Manchester presents as factual history. I'm glad I double-checked and did my research because much of what's here isn't as widely accepted by historians as the author suggests. Personally, I had a lot of trouble with this because I like getting my facts straight, and I didn't enjoy the feeling afterwards that I had believed a lot of scholarly tall tales.

posted by Anonymous on May 27, 2007

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2008

    Highly readable!

    Manchester's work in this volume is, admittedly, not scholarly in the usual sense of the term. That being said, this book is hard to put down. Manchester's style is engaging and he paints such a picture of medieval times that, upon reading him, one feels as if he has emerged from a brief sojourn in the era.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    If you need to know what happened in Europe in the Middle ages, this is the book.

    I originally came across this book due to a course in Medieval European History I took in College. I quickly fell in love.
    One of the few non-fiction books I can read more than once, William Manchester's "A World Lit Only By Fire" is a tour de force of history outlining the great events, ideas, and people that brought Europe through the "Dark Ages" into the renaissance.
    What makes it a great book is it's readability. I have given it as a gift to several friends, none of whom have backgrounds in history, and all have enjoyed it- and most have gone on to delve into more specific themes Manchester touches on.
    Manchester knows his history- and knows how to write about history in a way that not only teaches, but creates enjoyment in the learning.
    I'd love to meet him, to say "Thank you."

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2008

    One of My Favorite Books EVER

    Manchester won me over with his gentle, flowing narrative about the Middle Ages. All the information was there, and so was the warmth and humanity of Manchester.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2003

    Sex, Politics and Religion

    I am a Sophmore who was assigned this book for summer reading for my AP Euro Hitory course. This is definetly not a book that I would have been inclined to pick up on my own, but it was worth it. Although I am not Christian, I did want to learn more about the orgin of the traditions that are so widely practiced in todays society; this book help a lot! The paganistic, self-destructive celebrations of the polytheists were transformed into so-called 'Holy' celebrations of Christ's (peace be upon him) birth, when no one new the year of his birth, much less the exact month or day. Nevertheless the papacy, with its pervertedness, made it such a renown tradition that it is still practiced today in the new millenium! Now I look at the Renaissance as though it was part of the Medieval tumult, and i have an inhanced understanding of all of the heretical and 'holy' insidences. This is an amazing book for only those with an opened mind, not for the immature who call it 'sacrilegious'. It is truth, and William Manchester, though critisized, had to have some guts inorder to write with such candor and make a NATIONAL BESTSELLER out of it. For all who seek truth, regardless of their faith, should read this book. And even if one doesnt wish to seek truth, it is a good topic for conversation. HAVE FUN WITH IT!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2002

    A Superb Book

    'Shackled in ignorance, disciplined by fear, sheathed in supestition....' This book discusses the blindness and ignorance of post-Roman Europe. After the collapse of the Roman Europe by barbarians, small clans, and tribes, all technological advancements were destroyed. This book 'shows' the degradation of Eurpean sophistication. By taking a small fleet around the world, the remaining crew of Magellan showed that the land and sea beyond their exploration should be marked on maps rather than calendars. It also 'shows' the barbarism, viciousness, and all too powerful pope. At a time of illiteracy, Catholicism was the new Empire. I read about things I couldn't concieve. It is by far my favorite book. For anyone who wants to learn more. This is a must!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2007

    riveting overview of the period

    While I'll bow to experts in other reviews who question Manchester's sources and conclusions, I thought this was a wonderful read (perhaps because I read it voluntarily, rather than for ap history.)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2002

    Great Book!

    I had to read the first chapter for Summer Reading for my AP European History class. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy the entire book to read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Silv and Ang

    Wait

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2005

    It's a great book for people who are going to take AP Euro..

    I had to read this book for the summer assignment for AP Euro History and this book had helped me to read about specific events/names/dates and understand more deeply about the Medieval times and the renaissance. If you guys are going to take AP Euro, then I would recommend you guys to read this book before the school year starts since Renaissance is first topic that you will learn in AP Euro.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2002

    A Literary Voyage of Dicovery

    William Manchester fleshes out several events of European history, all of which left the world permanently changed. The book describes a voyage of discovery, the moral crisis of a great institution and the ruthless use of power over all subjects of medieval authority. A great story written by a great story teller.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2001

    History with the sex left in.

    When reading Walter Scott, it is possible to tell where in the text he has opened his second bottle of Claret. In this book, Manchester does the same, only his claret is freedom from the strictures of Academia, and results in a richness of descriptive language that allows the reader to smell, taste and feel history. The mindset of medieval times becomes tangeable, allowing the reader to not only gather the facts, but to understand this alien age, whilst recognizing it's echos in our own time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2000

    An exciting read

    This book has turned out to be one of my faves. If you ever want to get an overall idea of the general atmosphere in Europe immediately before the Renaissance, this is the book to read. It's very engrossing and definitely much more fun to read. Its information is easily accessible and you genuinely do gain something from reading it. Highly recommended to anyone who just wants a quick overview of the time period.

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    Posted March 24, 2013

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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    Posted December 2, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2012

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