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By clover kicker (Thu Nov 27, 2008 at 04:40:49 AM EST) (all tags)
Problem #1 - I don't know as much about history as I'd like. Drool.

Problem #2 - I'm lazy. Drool.

Solution - find (relatively) brief history books to provide an overview, and to hell with the details.

Today's review - Hollister's Medieval Europe, A Short History.



My copy is an older edition, presumably the new one is just as good.

I'm pretty ignorant of continental history, but I learned the broad strokes of British history from some decent TV documentaries I watched a few years ago (tag: lazy).

The book sketches the latter half of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance, i.e. ~ 1000 years, in about 400 pages. Hollister breaks the period into early/high/late middle ages, and discusses the events, the way societies were structured, and the important ideas of each era.

There's a long chapter on Rome/Byzantium, and another on Islam, obviously big influences on medieval Europe.

He clearly aimed this book at 1st year history undergrads with short attention spans, the style is very readable, and he keeps things moving with no tangents. Perfect for dumb laymen.

I learned a lot, 2 thumbs up from me, the dumb layman. History buffs can probably skip it. 



Next time - Gernet's A History of Chinese Civilization



Anyone recommend a concise history of the Middle East, or is that even possible? How about India?
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There is in fact a ... by lm (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Nov 27, 2008 at 05:21:17 AM EST
... Concise History of the Middle East. Not that I've read it.

I was very fond of Lapudis' History of Islamic Societies but at over 800 pages of text (not including end notes or bibliography), I'd not call it concise and it doesn't even cover the entire middle east.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
I'd much rather read 1 long book by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Nov 27, 2008 at 07:44:34 AM EST
then 3 medium books.

800 pages isn't so bad if the topic and writing are interesting.

[ Parent ]
I found myself losing interest towards the end by lm (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Nov 27, 2008 at 07:58:56 AM EST
But for the most part I found it to be interesting. One thing that Lapudis does that I think is all to rare is that he directly addresses the ideas that are being expressed in the literature of the era. For example, he spends a few pages exploring the connection between Sufism and Persian love poetry. I like someone trying to make those connections between the history of ideas and the expression of those ideas in culture.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Books by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Nov 27, 2008 at 05:52:46 AM EST
by Philip Hitti

--
The three things that make a diamond also make a waffle.
Concise history of the Middle East lol by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Nov 28, 2008 at 04:19:29 AM EST

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It's political correctness gone mad!

history textbook reviews, yay! | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback