Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era

Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era

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Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Norman Cantor's rich manner of informing his readers about how the Middle Ages revolved around John of Gaunt in The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era is that of a learned and extraordinarily gifted historian. If at any point in reading his book I happened to change, or would expect someone else to change, it would be when I read his paragraph in his introduction. He gets straight to the point right from the start by letting us know that the main person he is going to talk about is John of Gaunt, who lived past the rare age of fifty, was son of a very famous king, and inherited a ridiculous amount from his father-in-law (1). He captured my reluctant attention from the very start, delving into surprisingly understandable and astonishingly interesting details and facts as if determined to keep me in his narrative grip. How could a single man influence an era as much as Norman Cantor writes they did? Well, the only way to find come across an answer was to read on. Never have I felt so interested and exhilarated to be reading a history book. The Middle Ages were not the ones that I read about in bedtime stories and saw in animated cartoons, but they actually involved real people with real problems involving religion, money, war, and power. I never knew any of that until I finished reading his book. It gave me a whole different perspective and interest than before. That would truly be my only truly important change after reading his book, and making people of all ages interested in history with his writing is most definitely his foremost merit. Norman F. Cantor was an accomplished author born on November 19, 1929 that specialized in writing and teaching about the Middle Ages. He graduated with a doctorate from Princeton in 1957, and went on to teaching at New York University. He wrote several best- selling books during his lifetime including, Inventing the Middle Ages: The Lives, Works and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth Century, and several other works that focused on his specialized field of the Middle Ages. Most of his work has been praised by critics all over the country, and have received excellent comments on his amazing style of teaching history through his unusually flawless writing and manner of conveying information. Norman Cantor was greatly recognized for being one of the most influential historians if all times. Even after his death on September 18, 2004, Norman Cantor's books are still being read and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people of all ages throughout the world.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the organization of the book. The first 200 pages are not bad at all - the last 40 was a real drag. The book could have easily been shortened. The manuscript tends to repeat itself a lot. If you read Cantor's book on the Plague, there will be some repetitive information. Having said that, it was nice to get some of that information again and Cantor's description of Gaunt's relationships are good. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Warriors and Women. I like all the Cantor books, but some are better than others. I tend to agree with some of the reviewers that this is not a great biography and that Cantor's points are brought up quickly and without a lot of defense. But I still read it and enjoyed it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Last Knight is at the nadir of current historical writing. The writing is simplistic. The historical interpetation is strewn with politically correct mantras that make little sense in our own era and are incomprehensible nonsense when woven into the Middle Ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You don't know how excited I was to see a new book written on John of Gaunt. Ever since reading Anya Seton's wonderful novel about him, he's been one of my favorite historical characters, and I know how hard it is to get a hold of any of his existing biographies. But this... other than the novelty of having a new book about him... there's not much to recommend here. 'The Last Knight' makes some truly outrageous statements without giving any evidence to back them up. (Certainly, none of John of Gaunt's other biographers knew for a fact he'd never used a condom and that, with the exception of his brother, all his best friends were women.) If you're already familiar with the life of John of Gaunt and this time period, you might find this an interesting read, just don't expect this 'social history' to stick to the facts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Overall, I loved this book. It is very easy to read, and is packed with real information that makes the 1300s come alive. The author obviously knows enough to be able to 'condense' his knowledge into easy-to-read, yet rich text. The book covers a lot of ground effortlessly. I would highly recommend this book. The only thing I did not like is that the author injects very modern categories of thinking into the 1300s. For example, he keeps emphasizing that homosexuals were an outsider group. I doubt that people in the 1300s thought of it that way. That is a modern category that he is putting on the 1300s. For example, he states that Jews and homosexuals were persecuted and were outsider groups. I doubt that homosexuals were as persecuted as Jews, and no doubt, a homosexual could cover it up much better than a Jew could [several English kings were homosexuals, so how bad could they have had it ? whereas it was impossible for a Jew to become King]. Homosexuals have always been thought of as 'other' and not normal in Christian countries, but to view them as a group is a very modern way of seeing it. Also, the author states that Gaunt's wealth - relative to today, was 'about half a billion dollars'. Well, I seriously doubt that. That is relative wealth, not absolute wealth. Being rich back then meant you had a fire all the time, could raise an army of thousands, and could buy people off. But does anyone really think that Gaunt's wealth in an absolute sense was anything like Bill Gates' ? I found those modern categories a bit detracting from an otherwise excellent, readable book.