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The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Library ed edition (22 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400144930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400144938
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 4.6 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,180,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan was born in 1968, grew up in Virginia, and was educated at home by pioneering parents, back when home education was still unheard of. She worked as a professional musician, wore a costume at Colonial Williamsburg, toured with a travelling drama group, galloped racehorses at a Virginia racetrack, taught horseback riding, worked in radio and newspaper ad sales, learned enough Korean to teach a Korean four-year-old Sunday school, and served as librarian and reading tutor for the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Center in Williamsburg, Virginia.

In her less haphazard adult life, she earned an M.A., M.Div., and Ph.D. She has taught at the College of William & Mary in Virginia for the last sixteen years. Susan is married and the mother of four.

Susan's most recent book for Norton, The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade (2010), is the second in a four-volume series providing a narrative world history. Look for the first volume as well--The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome.

Her previous book, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (2003), is a guide to reading the classic works of fiction, poetry, history, autobiography, and drama. Norton also published The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (with co-author Jessie Wise); originally published in 1999, this bestselling guide to education in the classical tradition was revised and updated in 2004 and again in 2009.

Product Description

About the Author

Susan Wise Bauer is the best-selling author of the Story of the World series and The Well-Trained Mind, among other works. She lives in Virginia. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Greycat on 2 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First off, this book is very large, as is the topic it covers. It is essentially an overview of the medieval period, from the last days of the Romans, for the main continents across the world - and it is truly fascinating and engrossing.

Amazingly, the author achieves their goal very well indeed. Each chapter deals with a different culture, moving forward slowly in time to indicate clearly the evolution of the period from each perspective. However, this is never overwhelming. The 'story' of each land/culture flows well (and often humorously), and never becomes dry or just a barrage of names or titles. Societies and influences are clear, and it's easy to get an idea of what is happening, where and why.

As an overview of a very long period over a very wide area, it is excellent and (miraculously!) never unwieldy. There's enough detail for readers who find appeal in a particular time or location to then look for further, more detailed accounts elsewhere.

An excellent text, recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought it was a very good and informative book. It covers the subject extensively and is well written, though quite long.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good worldwide review of the history of the period. She has an easy to read style and the book is informative about a number of areas I knew very little about.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 71 reviews
146 of 151 people found the following review helpful
Very well done 18 Jun. 2010
By LikeBooksTooMuch - Published on
Format: Hardcover
After spending too much of my life on technology and engineering, I have been spending my last 10 years reading History for Fun. It is my pleasure and my passion.
I'm still learning a lot about history so I can't claim to be an expert.
I can't claim that Bauer is "correct". But at this point, I read multiple histories from multiple authors to generate my own view.

But Bauer's book is a great place to start to get a readable over-view of "medieval" history to allow one to start to drill down into areas and times of particular interest. (Or maybe just get enough to move on to the next era.)

But this, by far, is the most readable history books that cover such a long period of time over such a wide area (the whole earth).


The chapters average around 10 pages. Each chapter will cover a period of about 20-50 years in a particular area (Western Europe, Middle East, India, Korea, Japan, China, etc). It makes a nice nugget. As time change, an area may be "West Francia", "Spain", or "North Africa".
Each chapter is relatively self-contained, as much as possible, within the context of a 600 page continuing narrative. Each chapter is easy to read, fascinating, and there always seems to be a little "humor" in the background.

This is a narrative; about kings, queens, popes, dukes, eunuchs, states, nations, wars... "Classic narrative history", it doesn't spend any time talking about what it meant to be a young boy in Korea in 814 or marriage rites in Persia or bathing habits in France. (Thank God.)

Susan Bauer is a great writer, but paired with Norton Press, it makes a great book. The production is just great.
Each chapter has at least one map. The map covers the area being discussed in the chapter. Every city, river, tribe, clan, state mentioned within the text is marked on the map. (There were a few little slip-ups but it became a game for me, as I love maps). There are so few productions that take the time to make sure that a map relates to the text and the text relates to the map.

The other great production part of the book is that there are 2 different footnotes. Footnotes that reference original sources are placed in the back of the book; footnotes that are really sidelines, are at the bottom of the page. I hate books that mix source references and side notes; it is just lazy publishing. But Norton does Bauer's work well. Side-lines, and there are not that many, are at the bottom of the page; you don't have to switch back and forth. (A sign the publisher cared about people actually trying to read the book.)

Third great feature of the book is that each chapter ends with a timeline, actually parallel timelines that cover major events and rulers in surrounding areas. It allows one to re-anchor the last 10-15 pages into the bigger context of time and space.
It is a long book, but if you have any interest in understanding the world between 400-1100, I think this is a great place to start. I wish this had been available 10 years ago.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Readable, organized history 1 Jan. 2011
By A. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Susan Bauer has written a fabulous history of the time period often referred to as the "dark ages." It was, of course, an enormous task to summarize 1000 years of history into 650 pages, but Bauer did a wonderful job. It is superbly organized, and Bauer's prose is engaging. Each chapter has at least one map marking places indicated in the text, and the chapters are brief. It's organization also makes it easy to use as a reference if some readers aren't ambitiously motivated to read the entire volume. I heartily recommend this book for the family library.
42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Better than a textbook, but not quite popular history 2 Jun. 2011
By Enjolras - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have pretty mixed feelings about this book. It's certainly more entertaining than most history textbooks, and probably a good introduction to Medieval history. Still, I wouldn't really recommend it as a popular history book that one could relax and read. It jumps around too much and throws out too many names, dates, and events too quickly. After reading it through, I felt I could barely remember much of it. I'd recommend using this book more asa reference or reading chapters about certain periods of interest. The chapters don't really connect in any significant way anyways. Ultimately, I'd like to see this book - or one like it - used as a high school textbook.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Good overall narrative 27 Feb. 2012
By Freyja's Books - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up because I didn't know much about the time period it covers, from about 300 - 1100 CE, and this is probably as perfect a book as you can get for filling in the information about the general narrative of the time. Although the book is very informative, it obviously cannot fit everything that there is to know about the era into 666 pages -- consider it an introduction, not comprehensive. Most of the juicy details and day-to-day experiences and thoughts of the people in this time period are left out because the book focuses on sweeping political changes like conquests and regime changes. The author has decided to include all of world history in this book, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, European, and American, although the Muslim and Christian world get the vast majority of the space. Except for when the armies of Islam were extending their borders from Spain to India, I felt like this inclusion of all of world history into one short book was awkward and telling too many disconnected stories at once. Since I have no interest in Asian history during this period, I could have skipped those chapters entirely and have lost none of the narrative. I will leave it to other readers to determine whether or not an all-inclusive approach is best.

I only give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it takes a just-the-facts approach, which will bore most general readers looking for a good story. If you're not at all interested in the struggles of royal families to hold onto power, this book is not for you. Dynasties and their territories receive far more attention than peoples, culture, and dramatic events here.

Since I consider this book a good introduction to the time period, I will research the subjects that I found interesting in other books, which seems to be the best use of this book.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Impressive, big-picture political chronology 14 April 2011
By Paul Hassler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The book is a political chronology of the known world from about 300 to 1100 AD. Its common threads are the efforts at political control, the role of religion in politics, and the nearly constant (military) interactions between diverse and growing populations, the proto-nationalities that gradually gel into the nations we know today. There is little information on culture, economy, engineering and the like. Instead, you get an overall feel for what a medieval empire meant, to quote the author: "a conquered mass of peoples, some in constant rebellion, with on-going struggles for power at the top and an ever-present tendency for the whole thing to fly apart." You also get a feel for how the modern religions took shape and spread. In particular, the author illustrates the political advantages to having a single, homogenous religion with uniform doctrine, perhaps begging the question that asks why so many people insist on a god in the first place.

It is a clear, fast-paced, well-written narrative. The short chapters are arranged so that if you wish to skip the sections on certain regions in order to keep your focus on another area, you can do this without skipping a beat. And as one reviewer pointed out, at least one map plus a timeline of rulers is placed in every chapter, immensely helping a non-historian (me) keep track of the locale and people covered by that chapter. Highly recommended for a big-picture view of the period, as a reference to political and demographic change, or simply as food for thought.

If I may, for those seeking a detailed study of the political, economic and social structures of ancient Rome that carried on in various forms after the empire ceased, might I suggest, "The Inheritance of Rome", by Chris Wickham. For a perspective on the political influence of Christian doctrine, consider, "The Closing of the Western Mind", by Charles Freeman.
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