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

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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 sparkling prose to compose an astonishing portrait of medieval Europe.
The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering age of crusades, cathedrals, and chivalry; on the other, a world plunged into chaos and spiritual agony. In this revelatory work, Barbara W. Tuchman examines not only the great rhythms of history but the grain and texture of domestic life: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes, and war dominated the lives of serf, noble, and clergy alike. Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries, and guilty passions, Tuchman re-creates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, dominating all, the knight—in all his valor and “furious follies,” a “terrible worm in an iron cocoon.”
Praise for A Distant Mirror
“Beautifully written, careful and thorough in its scholarship . . . What Ms. Tuchman does superbly is to tell how it was. . . . No one has ever done this better.”—The New York Review of Books
“A beautiful, extraordinary book . . . Tuchman at the top of her powers . . . She has done nothing finer.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . a great book, in a great historical tradition.”—Commentary

NOTE: This edition does not include color images.

About Barbara W. Tuchman

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BARBARA TUCHMAN received her bachelor's degree in history and literature from Radcliffe College in 1933. Following her graduation, she took a position with the American Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations in Japan, where she also wrote for the Far Eastern Survey and Pacific Affairs. Upon her return to the US, Tuchman began working for The Nation, and in 1937 she corresponded from Valencia and Madrid on the Spanish Civil War. Her titles include Bible and Sword, The Zimmerman Telegram, The Proud Tower, Notes from China, A Distant Mirror, Practicing History, The March of Folly, and The First Salute. Tuchman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1963 for The Guns of August and in 1972 for Stillwell and the American Experience in China. She died in February, 1989 and was survived by her husband, three daughters, and four grandchildren.

Author Hometown: New York, NY
Published August 3, 2011 by Random House. 784 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for A Distant Mirror
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1


on Sep 21 1978

As in her other works, she has preserved the richness and complexity of her subject, without sacrificing the lucidity, wit, and liveliness of her presentation.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Bruce Cole on Mar 10 2012

Not all professors should be writing for a general readership...

Read Full Review of A Distant Mirror: The Calami... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Foreign Affairs

Above average

Popular history, imaginatively researched, that tells us much of the life and anguish of the fourteenth century, with its wars, social upheavals, and the Black Death.

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