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

Barbara W. Tuchman—the acclaimed author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning classic The Guns of August—once again marshals her gift for character, history, and ...

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A must-have book for anyone interested in the convoluted political and social situation in the 14th century, the time of the Plague, the beginning of the 100 year war, the widening Papal schism and incessant class struggle. This book does not focus on the arming of a knight or on the exact events that happened on the battle field (though battles are described in enough detail to explain the outcome). What this book does wonderfully well however is to set up the proper context for the wars that plagued this century: that political events lead to the wars and what was the consequence of the armed conflict.

The book deals mainly with France and England, but there is plenty of information on the events in Italy, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. B. Tuchman has written the book in an easy to understand and fun to read prose while maintaining historical objectivity and academic merit.

There are some small inaccuracies, if one can call them that, regarding arms and armor but provided that this is not the scope of the book it is rather forgivable.

Highly recommended.
—Updated Aug 26, 2005

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