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Extended Audio Sample A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, by Barbara W. Tuchman Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (9,489 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Barbara W. Tuchman Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

Barbara Tuchman reveals both the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived. Here are the guilty passions, loyalties and treacheries, political assassinations, sea battles and sieges, corruption in high places and a yearning for reform, satire and humor, sorcery and demonology, and lust and sadism on the stage. Here are proud cardinals, beggars, feminists, university scholars, grocers, bankers, mercenaries, mystics, lawyers and tax collectors, and, dominating all, the knight in his valor and “furious follies,” a “terrible worm in an iron cocoon.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Barbara Tuchman at the top of her powers…A beautiful, extraordinary book…She has done nothing finer.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “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.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Wise, witty, and wonderful…A great book, in a great historical tradition.”


  • “[Wanda McCaddon] renders interesting even Tuchman’s most pedantic moments of scene-setting…[McCaddon’s] reading, with impeccable French and English accents, immerses the reader in the lengthy narrative, mixing politics with the personal. Humorous asides, especially commentary from peasantry…enliven the telling.”


  • Winner of the National Book Award for • History
  • ANew York Times Bestsellerfor Nonfiction in 1979

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Aaron Benedict | 2/17/2014

    " An excellent overview of the 14th Century. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Janice Oneill | 2/12/2014

    " I couldn't get myself to finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rick McNeely | 2/12/2014

    " An impressive work of narrative history that will vastly increase your understanding of medieval life. Well-written, well researched, but not for those who find history tedious. A great book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Andrew | 1/30/2014

    " Definitely will read more Tuchman. Wonderfully detailed and informative "

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