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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom
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on 5 January 2013
Historical writing would be poorer without Tom Holland. He's written convincingly about a period of which I knew nothing.

Not that it lacks mannerisms. "Clever" paragraph openings frequently jolted me out of the narrative, and there are the usual jumps backward and forward in time.

However, once again he sets the bar high and clears it with ease. This isn't just about warring thugs. We're treated (and they are treats) to unheralded essays about slavery, and the wretched lot of peasants. Holland shows not just fluency, but human sympathy. Indeed, his prose is so good that he manages to make even the Battle of Hastings exciting.

An absorbing, educational, unpatronising page turner.
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on 7 November 2015
Disappointing. His thesis seemed to be that .everything which happened in the two centuries before and after the year one thousand, from the Norman Conquest to the founding of the Russian nation, revolved around the idea that then the world would end the Second Coming would take place which simply doesn't make sense. Lots of interesting historical tit-bits which don't really link up nor are they really explored.and the 'writing' itself is repetitive and full of high-flown verbiage. The book is more like material for possible historical novels.He's lucky that he's young enough and good looking enough to be trotted out on the Telly as a historian but what he writes isn't 'history'.
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on 24 October 2016
Excellent condition
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on 26 December 2011
If you have read Tom Holland's wonderful book "The Forge of Christendom - The End of Days and the Epic Rise of the West"
Then you have also read this book. They are - with the exception of the title - the exact same text.
Neither book makes any reference to this fact however, so if you have bought both, it is only when you are eagerly trying to decide which to read first that you will discover you have been hoodwinked.
This excellent author's reputation has been severely damaged by this and he should definitely insert a sturdy piece of footwear into his publisher.
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on 20 January 2017
Interesting thesis
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on 26 November 2016
just what i wanted
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 8 November 2009
This is a scholarly look at the so-called Dark Ages around the 10th century. As he was covering the known Christian world (from Britain to Palestine) he had quite a task as so many differing events were taking place. But he manages to bring clarity to a complex subject. He gives us a great sweep of history which includes Christians, Vikings, Saxons, Normans, Franks, Jews and Saracens and they manoeuvre for land, money and power.

One of the enduring features of the time was the vying for supremacy between Rome and Constantinople and the continual battle between lay rulers and the Pope. He points out the somewhat ignoble beginnings of the concept of knighthood and later how pilgrimages turned into crusades. The rise of the Cluny monastic order is also well covered. Nor does he neglect to mention the very lowliest of society and the woeful lives of the peasant class even though little has been recorded of their lives - "for the silence of the poor is almost total".

Holland has a deft touch with language. In recounting how William Longsword, a Norseman converted to Christianity, had gone to parley with the Count of Flanders "he had done so unarmed, as befitted a Christian lord meeting with a fellow prince; and the Count of Flanders, as befitted a Christian lord meeting with a dangerous pirate, had ordered him hacked to death."

But suffused through these tumultuous times is the widespread belief that the world was about to end and that the Antichrist would arrive and the effect this has on the actions of many. (Spoiler alert - the world doesn't end!")
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on 21 May 2009
Tom Holland is simply the best contemporary history writer around. With Rubicon he brought a much needed verve and wit to the overly familiar area of Roman history. With Persian Fire he then told the story of the Persian wars with the Greeks from both sides. Now with Millennium he has written his magnum opus.

The other books he has written so far have been specific in their topics however with Millennium has created in essence the story of how Europe shifted from the post Roman malaise to the medieval world. He talks at length not just about the rise of the Papacy but the other key players in this tale which includes the Islamic Caliphates in Spain and Egypt, the Byzantine Empire, the Vikings, the pagan cultures of Eastern Europe, the German Empire, France and England.

This is no mean feat, the time lines and deeds of these different groups are notoriously hard to follow- I remember myself at school getting hopelessly muddled over which Otto did what to the Wends- but not any more. Each one of these peoples is a book in itself but Tom Holland not only seamlessly glides from one topic to the next but as always his easy writing style draws the reader into the complexities of the time.

An awesome achievement in terms of historical summary and a highly enjoyable read too a must buy for any fan of history.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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on 30 December 2009
Holland appears to make his living simply from writing rather than inhabiting the world of academia, having published books on classical history but not as far as I know holding a university post. For all that, the research that led to this book is astounding. One of my favourite periods, the 10th and 11th centuries. Holland treats it in terms of the strong expectation among Christians that the world would end either in 1000 or 1033 and the influence this had on their actions. Wide-ranging geographically - Byzantium, Spain, Francia, Scandinavia, Russia, Rome, Germany, Sicily, England - the book is also comprehensive in the reach of its subject matter: religion of course, diplomacy, military matters, the massive importance of Cluny, the development of the feudal polarity of castellan and peasant in the Frankish kingdom (and its catastophic effect on the mass of the population), the Normans as predators. Very well written, the book, rather than doing the traditional thing of putting forward a point of view and assembling evidence to support it, is really a very long essay in which Holland gets inside the heads of the actors and how they made sense of things. His thesis that the severing of the link between church and state in this period led to the specificity of subsequent European history needs closer scrutiny however.
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on 30 November 2009
Having also read 'Rubicon', as well as Holland's study of ancient Persia, I was not surprised to find this book so very readable, indeed more so than the latter. He is, I think, as master of words and their grouping into sentences. Emphatic prose, elegantly articulated which, after a few dozen pages, sweeps you away on a powerful train of expression. I am tempted to make a comparison with Gibbon who did that definitive job on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire so long ago.
The downside might be that this is not really 'historical writing' as we know it today. It's like all the facts and debateable opinions we could have chewed over carefully and judiciously have been dissolved into molten writing in which what counts is style rather than content. Not that I can accuse him of getting any facts wrong ! And I'm definitely going to buy the next one !
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