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A world lit only by fire : the medieval mind and the Renaissance : portrait of an age

by William Manchester

  Print book  |  1st ed

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
This is a dreadful book   (2008-09-21)


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by SMonson

If I could give this book less than half a star, I would. It is extremely popular, and has had many re-printings, probably because it is very readable. However, the author is not an expert on the period (his specialization is early 20th c, J.F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill & H.L. Mencken), he doesn't like the period, but he has a morbid fascination with it. Inaccuracies abound; the author makes many errors of fact, assumptions, and sweeping generalizations. In fact, he is fairly clueless about the period. He says in the first paragraph of the introduction that he only used secondary sources; this is a major defect, and a hallmark of poor scholarship. 

One example: Quoting Holinshed, who spoke of "the filthie sin of lechery and fornication, with abominable adulteries, speciallie in the king," Manchester decides this must apply to Edward VI, that poor invalid, governor-ridden boy who probably was never alone even in the loo, and certainly never had the opportunity for lechery!

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