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Download A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance; Portrait of an Age Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance; Portrait of an Age Audiobook, by William Manchester Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,501 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: William Manchester Narrator: Barrett Whitener Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2007 ISBN: 9781455186808
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The preeminent popular history of civilization’s rebirth after the Dark Ages

From tales of chivalrous knights to the barbarity of trial by ordeal, no era has been a greater source of awe, horror, and wonder than the Middle Ages. In handsomely crafted prose and with the grace and authority of his extraordinary gift for narrative history, William Manchester leads us from a civilization tottering on the brink of collapse to the grandeur of its rebirth, the Renaissance, a dense explosion of energy that spawned some of history’s greatest poets, philosophers, and painters, as well as some of its most spectacular villains.

One of the most volatile periods of western history witnessed the passing of the Dark Ages and the dawning of the Renaissance, illuminated by magnificent scientific and artistic achievements and spectacular leaps of thought and imagination. Manchester’s narrative weaves together extraordinary figures, varied elements, and accomplishments of the period.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Manchester provides easy access to a fascinating age when our modern mentality was just being born.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Lively and engaging, full of exquisite details and anecdotes that transform this period—usually murky—into a comprehensive tableau.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “A captivating, marvelously vivid popular history that humanizes the tumultuous span from the Dark Ages to the dawn of the Renaissance.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Manchester has not forgotten the skills that, with invective, eloquence, and anecdote, make him a master storyteller.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “An absorbing and readable history.”

    School Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ken | 2/19/2014

    " Manchester took a challenging project and made it a very readable and interesting book. It was as good the second time around as the first time, years ago. Probably not for diehard Roman Catholics who do not challenge the status quo. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tom Darrow | 2/13/2014

    " Extremely dry and eleitist in its language. He uses far too many dollar words when the quarter word would have improved the clarity much more. It's good research and scholarly, but very hard to read. I actually give my advanced world history students (9th grade) a 10-page section of this book at the start of the year. The purpose is twofold... 1) give them a decent background on the middle ages (because the class starts in the Renaissance) and 2) knock a few of the weaker kids out of the class. It works on both counts every year. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff Rocklin | 2/11/2014

    " Historical. The Middle Ages, 600 years from A.D. 400 to A.D. 1000. Fairly Amazing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meg | 1/26/2014

    " Contains blatant falsehoods and misinformation. See page 200. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill Williams | 1/16/2014

    " As a fan of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, I tore into this thick book hoping for a better insight onto the daily life of the knights, peasants, and painters of the era. Now, I know far too much about the Catholic church and how it was shattered by corrupt officers and their selling of indulgences among other highly questionable acts. The final section about Magellan was a revelation and a nice change from Anglican politics. His real life journey reads like a lost chapter from the Tales of the Black Freighter. An interesting book, but not what I was expecting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brigitte | 1/16/2014

    " I originally read this in high school and it is still enjoyable now. It's like reading a gossip column of the Renaissance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gail | 12/25/2013

    " An excellent introductory work on the Middle Ages. Manchester writes clearly and keeps the reader interested...no slogging through endless statistics and deadly heavy prose. Interesting and informative. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 10/13/2013

    " Interesting connections made centering on Ferdinand Magellan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 April | 10/9/2013

    " Highly readable. Great portrait of an age. Everyone should read this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice Verberne | 9/18/2013

    " This book covers the Medieval through Renaissance history of central Europe giving the reader a complete insight as to what series of events happened to move mankind out of medieval life and into an age of enlightment. I particularily liked the section on Magellan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Josh | 8/26/2013

    " he's just way more impressed with magellan than i am. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natalie | 7/11/2013

    " A great book to read when you're sick of all the pulp fiction you're used to. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 6/18/2013

    " I think that this book more than most that I have read helps to really show what the world was like in the past. The extreme differences and how the culture looks at the outside world helped me to create a more realistic gaming world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 6/17/2013

    " Well-written and easy to follow history of the medieval mind and times. It's taking me a while to soak in, but I'm enjoying it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monica Newman | 3/17/2013

    " Manchester explores how a civilization on the edge of collapse explodes out of the Middle Ages, into the Renaissance, spawning some of the greatest poets, philosophers, painters, adventurers and reformers. I found this book fascinating for explaining this usually murky period of history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yvonne Carter | 8/13/2012

    " Hisory of Middle Ages "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Pinson | 6/8/2012

    " Amazing book. There are some arguments about how well-sourced the book is but really interesting to read the true story of the Pied Piper & other tales. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rod Davies | 3/30/2012

    " One of the best historical books I have ever read. Must read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wood | 3/11/2012

    " One of the best reads out of all the books I was required to read in college. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig | 6/2/2011

    " An elementary description of the medival world prior to the Renaissance. It amazed me that people were typically born, raised, lived and died within site of the same piece of property. People didn't wander off and explore for fear of getting hopelessly lost. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 5/4/2011

    " I like the detales included in the book. and how the book tells the stories of the time and give pictures and stuff including important people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lori | 3/27/2011

    " A must-read for all you history majors out there. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stephanie | 3/21/2011

    " Entertaining, but of dubious historical quality. *adjust scarf, sneers* "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rod | 3/15/2011

    " One of the best historical books I have ever read. Must read!


    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dallas | 3/5/2011

    " A great read for history buffs, full of detail and the attention to detail that makes Manchester's histories read-worthy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Haider | 3/2/2011

    " Very entertaining. Well-written and researched.

    Gives details about life in the Dark Ages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dil7worth | 2/13/2011

    " Very informative. An interesting look at the dark ages and what was going on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justin | 1/26/2011

    " I've heard that the facts aren't perfect in this book, but as an overview of the dark ages it delivers interesting insight. I thoroughly enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Satyrblade | 1/2/2011

    " Although it heads off-base in the latter third, this book present the European Renaissance through the lives of the people who lived it. Highly readable and deeply insightful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 April | 12/28/2010

    " Highly readable. Great portrait of an age. Everyone should read this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brigitte | 12/26/2010

    " I originally read this in high school and it is still enjoyable now. It's like reading a gossip column of the Renaissance. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mazohyst | 12/9/2010

    " I had to read this book for my Social AP class. I must say, it was like reading 100+ pages of Wikipedia. Although I tried to keep an open mind about it, I just could not read it all. Needless to say, the essay I had to write for this was absolutely horrible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 12/4/2010

    " . . . never knew what it was like during the period. This is one of my favorite books "

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About the Author

William Manchester (1922–2004) was an award-winning American author, biographer, historian, and a professor emeritus of history at Wesleyan University. Among his many New York Times bestselling books are A World Lit Only by Fire; The Glory and the Dream; American Caesar; Goodbye, Darkness; and The Last Lion, a multivolume biography of Winston Churchill. He was also a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award.

About the Narrator

Barrett Whitener has been narrating audiobooks since 1992. His recordings have won several awards, including the prestigious Audie and seven Earphones Awards. AudioFile magazine has named him one of the Best Voices of the Century. He lives in Washington, DC.