Saturday, December 19, 2009

A few days ago I finished A World Lit Only By Fire by William Manchester.

The subtitle says it is about the medieval mind and the Renaissance, but those two subjects are, respectively, only briefly discussed or barely mentioned. The book is really three essays.

The first is a very brief and cursory overview of the medieval period. This is so cursory that it seems to over-simplify in many ways and is heavily criticized in online reviews.

The second is a detailed overview of the Protestant Reformation, and is much better than the first. It covers a lot of the major events, including the lead up to Martin's protests and the reasons why they were more successful than previous heresies. Very interesting and well written.

The third is a profile of Ferdinand Magellan, whose expedition was the first to circumnavigate the globe, though he himself died in an ill considered battle in the Philippines.

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