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Barbarian West 400-1000
Barbarian West 400-1000
by J. M. Wallace-Hadrill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential introduction to the meaning of the Medieval world, 24 Jun 2012
Whereas some histories get bogged down in the particular detail and lose sight of what is of general significance, this history explains the meaning of the Medieval age. Perhaps because history written in the 1950s was a time when the historian was expected to reflect and enlighten as well as excavate juicy facts and engage in dialogue with other historians.

Wallace-Hadrill succeeds where others fail because he sees the human being inside history. He is able to ask what was the purpose of these people, why did they do what they did. He explains the Medieval people to themselves and therefore to us. In short, he uncovers their humanity. He succeeds in getting under the skin of Medieval Europe like no book I have read.

I'd suggest reading this in conjunction with Engels, The Origins of the Family, as Hadrill explains the subsequent development of the tribe into the kingdoms as the barbarian chieftans clashed with the Roman Imperial forces.

At the heart of the book is the changing relation between the individual and the society - specifically the changing way in which leaders came to exercise authority over society.

Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche
Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche
by Bill Plotkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.48

6 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak on relation of individual to society, 26 May 2011
In a society that appears to have no further goal than its own survival, questioning the purpose and meaning of our individual lives is certainly no bad thing. But the author actually counsels against discussing our 'soul journey' with other people because 'others might respond with derision or envy. ... worse is being killed politely by a half smile, a how nice, or a change in topic'. Strange for a book that claims to want to re-engage the individual with the community to advise the reader not to speak to anyone. 'To talk about your vision before you have solidly enacted it may undermine your resolve to make it real', Bill advises. Umh, really.
Not questioning somebody or have to respond to questioning is entirely sensible for a vision built on ecstatic connection rather than rational reflection. After all, how do you explain to someone that you are part of nature and you belong to the universe? They might ask some difficult questions - like how are you connected, is there an invisible thread? This isnt to say that we're not part of something outside ourselves. Of course we're all part of something - its called human society. Reflecting on this ought to be the starting point to the discovery of any meaningful life. It is perhaps worth remembering that the tool of human communication - language - is what really seperated us from nature and began the story of human civilization (see Helen Guldberg's More Than Just An Ape). Perhaps the question we need to ask ourselves is do we want to live like animals or stand up and live like men?
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