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AD 1000: a World on the Brink of Apocalypse [Paperback]

Richard Erdoes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sep 1998
It is the one-thousandth year of christianity. The end of the millennium is fast approaching, and with it the nightmare visions of Armageddon and Apocalypse. Tracing the career of Pope Sylvester II, a visionary so brilliant many believed he had made a secret pact with Satan, author Richard Erdoes creates a vivid tapestry filled with powerful vignettes and revealing character sketches. As rich as any fantasy, this chilling historical account holds up a dark mirror to our own society, here at the eve of the second millennium.

Product details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Ulysses Press; Reprint edition (Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569751579
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569751572
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 16.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,452,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining! 6 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I am not a professional historian, so I cannot comment on the veracity of Mr. Erdoes's description of Europe at the last millennium, but if one-tenth of what he says is true, it was a pretty horrifying place. The book is in a sense a biography of Gerbert of Aurillac, who was to become Pope Sylvester II, the pope who presided over midnight mass in St. Peter's at Rome on December 31, 999. Gerbert's life is used as a centerpiece in a banquet of vignettes of European life at the time, including studies of the Holy Roman Empire, the papacy, the Byzantine Empire, the Moors in Spain, feudal France and Germany, the Slavs in Russia, the Vikings in Scandinavia, and the Magyars in Hungary. Very, very few people seem to have been well behaved, but perhaps Gerbert was. What becomes painfully obvious is that living conditions have improved dramatically in Europe in the last thousand years, but human nature has remained pretty much the same. An extensive bibliography and a decent index, but no notes to indicate specific sources, accompany this very entertaining history. Highly recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A long time ago... 21 Mar 2006
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
As Karen Armstrong says in her introduction, the year 1000 was a very different world, one that would never have believed that the global triumph of the West would take place in the next 1000 years. There were no cohesive nations of long standing; the Roman Empire's collapse hundreds of years prior remained the defining influence, and even consolidations under the likes of Charlemagne would not change the fact that half of Europe was still fighting the other half, usually in small, tribal cliques.
Despite the dominance of the Christian church, still at this time officially undivided, much of Europe was rife with superstition and nature religions that occasionally practiced barbaric rituals; the church unfortunately occasionally engaged in barbaric rituals of its own.
The Muslim and Chinese dynasties, on the other hand, were cultivated and developing at a rapid pace; the Greek Christian world was considered peripheral civilisation not to the West (considered barbarian territory) but to the other two dominant powers, neither of which concerned themselves much with Europe.
Robert Erdoes' book is not really a history book, but rather a narrative historical almost-fiction, a dramatised vision of what the world was like at the turn of the first millennium. he speculates that many people were thinking that this might be the millennium spoken of in some biblical interpretations -- this is generally incorrect, given that many people didn't realise what year it was, and other dominant cultures didn't use the now-standard Christian-inspired calendar.
The main figure in Erdoes' book is a man named Gerbert, an up-and-coming figure in the Western church hierarchy, who by virtue of his position is afforded opportunities to travel and experience different peoples and places.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but readers should beware. 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"A.D. 1000" reads like a work of narrative fiction, and it proves quite interesting. The fundamental structure of the book follows the chronology of Gerbert's fascinating rise to the Papacy. Because of Gerbert's unusual opportunities for travel, educational development, and influence in the most powerful courts of Europe, the book provides opportunities to discuss living conditions in the time. But caveat emptor: the author is not sufficiently critical of his sources. Some descriptions are presented as fact even though other seasoned historians have discredited similar claims.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and interesting but badly edited. 15 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A vivid and entertaining look at the life and times of the people living in Europe at the end of the first millenium. The book reads like a serious version of Monty Python's "The Holy Grail". Lots of historical factoids, gritty and sometimes disturbing descriptions of tenth century lifestyles, and complicated narratives of religious and political intrigue.The only negative I found is that the book, or at least the edition I read, is poorly edited. There are frequent typos, and sometimes the paragraphs and chapters seem a bit confusing, somewhat unfocused and slightly disorganized. These editing problems become a bit distracting at times. However, on the whole the subject matter is fascinating, and the author's approach (focusing on the life of Pope Sylvester II and using him as a centerpiece for discussing tenth century life) is effective.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining! 6 July 1999
By John B. Ferguson <ferguson@bard.edu> - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am not a professional historian, so I cannot comment on the veracity of Mr. Erdoes's description of Europe at the last millennium, but if one-tenth of what he says is true, it was a pretty horrifying place. The book is in a sense a biography of Gerbert of Aurillac, who was to become Pope Sylvester II, the pope who presided over midnight mass in St. Peter's at Rome on December 31, 999. Gerbert's life is used as a centerpiece in a banquet of vignettes of European life at the time, including studies of the Holy Roman Empire, the papacy, the Byzantine Empire, the Moors in Spain, feudal France and Germany, the Slavs in Russia, the Vikings in Scandinavia, and the Magyars in Hungary. Very, very few people seem to have been well behaved, but perhaps Gerbert was. What becomes painfully obvious is that living conditions have improved dramatically in Europe in the last thousand years, but human nature has remained pretty much the same. An extensive bibliography and a decent index, but no notes to indicate specific sources, accompany this very entertaining history. Highly recommended!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and wonderfully written 25 Sep 2005
By Elaina Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am not one to write a reviews but this book deserved one. When I buy history books I read the chapters that pertain to what I need them for and nothing else. This book however was different. I was pleased as I began to read it that it covered a lot of everyday life as well as church and war life. This was perfect, I was so excited. It really gave me a feel for the time period and how it was to live there, he was so thorough in his explanations of the terror these people faced, not just in the thought that their lives where about to end but in the ways that they lived their lives. I will of course have to go back and re-read much of it, there was so much information to take in and I didn't have my hi-lighter for any of it! This book in my opinion was worth way more then I paid for it, and had I found it when it wasn't on sale I would have bought it anyways. I have found that reading an author that writes history as though he were writing a book and not a non-fiction literature piece makes the journey back in time much more vivid and realistic. I get bored with the college textbook fashion of writing and find that I don't nearly absorb as much. He wrote this book in such fashion and it really seemed like this was a passion for him while he was doing so, making the pages just as exciting for you to read as it was for him to write. I would definitely recommend this book if this time period is something that interests you as much as it interest me, you will learn something and have a great time doing so.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A long time ago... 18 Jun 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As Karen Armstrong says in her introduction, the year 1000 was a very different world, one that would never have believed that the global triumph of the West would take place in the next 1000 years. There were no cohesive nations of long standing; the Roman Empire's collapse hundreds of years prior remained the defining influence, and even consolidations under the likes of Charlemagne would not change the fact that half of Europe was still fighting the other half, usually in small, tribal cliques.
Despite the dominance of the Christian church, still at this time officially undivided, much of Europe was rife with superstition and nature religions that occasionally practiced barbaric rituals; the church unfortunately occasionally engaged in barbaric rituals of its own.
The Muslim and Chinese dynasties, on the other hand, were cultivated and developing at a rapid pace; the Greek Christian world was considered peripheral civilisation not to the West (considered barbarian territory) but to the other two dominant powers, neither of which concerned themselves much with Europe.
Robert Erdoes' book is not really a history book, but rather a narrative historical almost-fiction, a dramatised vision of what the world was like at the turn of the first millennium. he speculates that many people were thinking that this might be the millennium spoken of in some biblical interpretations -- this is generally incorrect, given that many people didn't realise what year it was, and other dominant cultures didn't use the now-standard Christian-inspired calendar.
The main figure in Erdoes' book is a man named Gerbert, an up-and-coming figure in the Western church hierarchy, who by virtue of his position is afforded opportunities to travel and experience different peoples and places. Gerbert, the teacher of the emperor Otto III, eventually becomes Sylvester II, a powerful but always embattled pope. Otto, holding on to the remnants of Charlemagne's empire and vision of a reunited vision, works with him, but in the end, both fail.
Erdoes develops the worldview in an interesting fashion. This being more a novel than a history, it does not have citations, facts and figures for the most part. Erdoes often opts for the historically-incorrect but true to the mindset rendering of history -- as in the most ancient of times, sometimes the truth of a civilisation can be told more from its mythology than from its simple history.
A fun book to read!
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