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    Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, The
    by NormanCantor, HaroldRabinowitz
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 June, 1999)
    list price: $45.00
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    Editorial Review

    As greater numbers of naysayers look forward to the collapse of civilization, perhaps it's best to see what happened last time. It turns out the Dark Ages weren't so bad--in fact, after reading through The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, you might find yourself pining for the good old days before the Renaissance. Historian Norman F. Cantor has assembled a crack team of experts to unleash their copious knowledge on our modern world; better still, Viking Press has enlisted excellent designers to present the information efficiently and even beautifully. You'll find yourself irresistibly drawn from one entry to the next (there are over 600, so leave time for browsing) as the story of the Council of Nicaea leads on to explorations of medieval Christianity and much more. Twenty longer essays on general topics provide the foundation for the rest of the Encyclopedia and make great reading on their own, but the meat of the book is in the details. Lavishly illustrated in both color and black-and-white, including artworks, maps, and timetables, this reference work looks as good on the shelf as it does on the coffee table. --Rob Lightner ... Read more

    Reviews (12)

    3-0 out of 5 stars good work but typos?? hurt
    This is a beautifully produced book with hundreds of color plates. There are many areas barely touched upon, but this is not a deep work, just one meant to acquaint people with Medieval times and possibly lure to a more in depth study. But since this is an "encyclopedia", I ask did you ever get in depth works there? They are merely the start of a journey. If you think along those lines you will have a clear view of how this books works and serves. So approach it as that and you will be pleased.

    It is merely a starting point. Some inaccurate information, so beware to double check sources when using information. Not sure if the errors were done in actual research (hard to believe of a Rhodes Scholar) or just typos. Either way, in a work such as this they really hurt the credibility.

    4-0 out of 5 stars 1000 of History
    'The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages', edited by Robert Cantor (Rhodes Scholar, Fulbright Fellow, &c.) is a good reference work, an encyclopedic dictionary, covering the roughly 1000 years from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance. In addition the usual definition-explanation entries, it has three types of sidebar essays: Illuminations, which focus on sources, Life in the Middle Ages, which talks about common life details, and Legend and Lore, which explores imaginative concepts which informed medieval life.

    There are maps, literally hundreds of photographs and illustrations, a layout that is inviting for study, reference, or general reading. It is 'easy on the eyes', much more so that a usual encyclopedia.

    The scope of this work is also broader than most medieval reference texts. 'Despite what students of medieval history are accustomed to reading, life did exist outside of Europe in the Middle Ages.' That having been said, this is still a very euro-centric book. This book gives a great deal of attention to science, medicine, and other topics often ignored or pushed to the periphery of a more politically-oriented textual treatment.

    There is an introductory essay that is well worth reading even if this is meant to be an on-the-shelf-for-reference-only sort of book. In talking about the influence on popular culture of the Middle Ages (everything from The Name of the Rose to the medieval garb, feudal structure and apprenticeship-education framework of Star Wars), Cantor says:

    'In order to recognise [this Middle Ages influence] one has to have at some time known, and this has been the job of historians, who today painfully append to Santayana's famous saying (about those forgetting the past being condemned to repeat it) the observation that one cannot forget a history one did not know in the first place.'

    Cantor describes twentieth century medievalists as being on a quest for 'wellsprings of a romantic and idealistic consciousness that would inspire a vibrant counterculture.' There is some of that in this book, but largely being encyclopedic rather than analytical and critical in nature, the reader/researcher can use the information contained herein for his own evaluations.

    From the Abbadid and Abbasid Dynasties to Yaroslave the Wise and Yugoslavia, from Boethius to Wycliffe, this book has hidden treats and interesting articles for all.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Not a reliable sourcebook for the Middle Ages
    Supposedly, this book was put together by some of the "world's most distinguished medievalists"!One hopes not!In addition to the glaring errors of taste and judgment pointed out by some of the other reviewers, the factual errors are astonishing!One of the most egregious errors occurs on p. 138: "Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of two kings, Philip I of France and Henry I of England"!!!!! Eleanor, of course, was the wife of Louis VII of France and of Henry II of England!This kind of sloppiness is simply not acceptable in a book that purports to be by "someof the world's best medieval historians" (fronticepiece).The pictures are pretty; some of the articles are acceptable (but hardly noteworthy), but the book should be avoided at all costs by serious (or would-be) students of the Medieval Period. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0670100110
    Subjects:  1. Encyclopedias    2. History    3. History - General History    4. History: World    5. Medieval    6. Medieval World History (Circa 450 - Circa 1450)    7. Middle Ages    8. Reference    9. History / General   

    The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany
    by T. L. Jarman
    Hardcover (01 January, 1956)
    list price: $19.50
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    Isbn: 0814702171
    Sales Rank: 1526078
    Subjects:  1. Europe - Germany    2. History   

    by R. H. Barrow
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Textbook Binding (January, 2000)
    list price: $10.50
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of the Roman soul ...
    Why do we remember Rome?. What made it great?. R. H. Barrow answers these questions and many more in a little book of 224 pages, that somehow manages to provide the reader not only a great deal of information but also entertaining reading material.

    'Romans' isn't a profound study of exactly how Romans contributed to literature, jurisprudence, architecture, or what were the characteristics of their daily life. Notwithstanding that, it allows us to learn a little bit of all that, motivating the reader to go on reading about the diverse subjects.

    According to Barrow, the Romans built a different kind of Empire, one inspired by a law that they created, and imposed on themselves. The author follows the process from the early days to the fall of the Empire, taking especial care to point out the clash between new and old habits, and how that made an impact on the kind of Empire Rome was. Of course, that is only part of what 'Romans' is about: it also allows you to understand what pietas, humanitas, libertas, mores, auctoritas, fides, severitas, gravitas and constantia meant for the Roman citizen, thus giving you at least a glimpse of his soul.

    In my opinion, this book is especially noteworthy because it aims to explain what kind of men were behind the greatness of Rome, therefore looking at the issue from the right point of view. History is made by men, and you can only understand it if you at least try to learn what motivated them at a given time. Barrow knew this, and tried to share it with us. For that, I heartily recommend this book to you :)

    Belen Alcat
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0883070111
    Sales Rank: 1168292

    Conspiracies, Cover-Ups, and Crimes: Political Manipulation and Mind Control in America (Issues in Soviet & East European Studies)
    by Jonathan Vankin
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 September, 1991)
    list price: $24.95
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Conspiracys Exposed In America It Happens Everyday
    This book is as the tile reads.Jonthan Vankin Kenneth M.Currie tell It all.Excellent read.It will open up your mind as to what Is happening In america.And how we the people are being held hostage in our own country.Mind control.Manipulation.We the american people paid with our tax dollars to arm Iraq and other countries.Our hard earned money funded the goverment for the mess this world is In today.When we the american people can not afford health Insurance.Work two jobs to make ends meet.Where is the president in this country? What Is he doing to help us. No jobs, Insurance,Terrosist In our country. We are the second world country not the first.Its not going to get any better.Does the goverment care about us.NO.Do you have a cement building with 23 rooms and hospitals and doctors in It.The govement does. They tell us to go about our lifes.When they have many of body guards that we the people pay for.What a bunck of lies they feed us everyday. Just an american who cares. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1557783845
    Sales Rank: 942261
    Subjects:  1. 1945-1989    2. 20th century    3. Conspiracies    4. General    5. History    6. Manipulative behavior    7. Military - General    8. Political crimes and offenses    9. Politics - Current Events    10. Politics and government    11. Politics/International Relations    12. U.S. Government (Specific Aspects)    13. United States   

    A Criminal History of Mankind
    by Colin Wilson
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1990)
    list price: $13.95
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    Reviews (9)

    5-0 out of 5 stars delivers what it promises....and more...
    Just finished reading it (little hard to find copy) and once again Colin Wilson doesn't disappoint. I'm truly amazed at the amount of research the author put in. Recommended to readers who like true crime.
    There are others who have said the same thing but Wilson's perspective makes all the difference.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Human nature at its darkest
    I had read only one book by Colin Wilson ("The Outsider", of course) when I found a paperback in a used-book store. There followed a month of fairly intense reading, because "A Criminal History of Mankind" is fascinating from beginning to end, and many sections I read over again. Wilson divides the book into three main sections: 1) The Psychology of Human Violence 2) A Criminal Outline of History 3) The Age of Mass Murder. In the first section, Wilson notes that criminal actions have been motivated by the "hierarchy of needs":food, shelter, sex, and the need for admiration. (In recent years, we have seen those who commit murder in order to gain fame.) Wilson describes what he calls the "right man", a sociopath obsessed with image and self-esteem. Most of these people are life's losers, but not all. A startling exception is the successful comic actor Peter Sellers, whose son's biography shows Sellers to have been almost criminal in his manic, morbidly obsessive nature. The second section is, by Wilson's own admission, H.G. Wells' "Outline of History" from a criminal point of view, everything from ancient Athens to Victorian London. Interestingly, Wilson writes: "This book is centrally concerned with crime; but if we ignore the creativity, we shall not only fail to understand the crime: we shall miss the whole point of human history." The third section goes into our own era, the Bundys, the DeSalvos, the Mansons. Wilson spends a full 50 blood-drenched pages on the Mafia. The book, published in 1984, touches only briefly on the disturbing increase of children who kill. Along with the horrors, there are pages of incisive philosophy: "It is true that we cannot live without an ego; a person without an ego is little more than an idiot. Another name for ego is personality, and in artists, saints, and philosophers, the personality is a most valuable tool. Neither St Francis nor Beethoven nor Plato would have achieved much impact without their personalities. But the personality is a dangerous servant, for it has a perpetual hankering to become the master. Every time we are carried away by irritation or indignation, personality has mastered us."Violence will always be with us. A casual glance at yesterday's New York Times finds the coverage of a man who threw his baby from a 15-story window while bickering with his wife. But Wilson ends his riveting book with cautious optimism: Referring to the criminal as a distortion of humanity, he writes (and quotes the German poet Novalis) that when humanity itself is aware that this is only a nightmare, we are close to awakening.

    5-0 out of 5 stars rhyme & reason
    if you have ever read anything by colin wilson (certainly youve read "the outsider") then definetly read this book. The things this book can teach us about society and humanity is unparalelled in a 'simple'true crime fashion. One of our centuries greatest philosophers has anintriguing view on many things, yet quite often you will find yourselfagreeing with much of what he says about us all. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0881846465
    Sales Rank: 961856
    Subjects:  1. Crime And Criminals    2. General    3. History    4. Murder    5. Nonfiction - True Crime / Espionage    6. Psychological aspects    7. Sociology    8. Violence   

    The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention that Changed the World
    by Amir D. Aczel
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (02 May, 2002)
    list price: $13.00 -- our price: $9.75
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (44)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Tale of Discovery & Use of the Compass
    The "Riddle" is well researched and written in a down to earth, flowing, enjoyable, fascinating and educational journey of discovery. Good illustrations help clarify text descriptions. To emphasize the *importance of the compass to navigation*, there is a quote from an English Augustinian monk, Alexander Neckam (1157-1217) from his book, `De Naturis Rerun':

    "The sailors, moreover, as they sail over the sea, when in cloudy weather they can no longer profit by the light of the sun, or when the world is wrapped in the darkness of the shades of night, and they are ignorant to what point of the compass their ship's course is directed, they touch the magnet with a needle. This then whirls round in a circle until, when its motion ceases, its point looks direct to the north." (p 30-31)

    Aczel opens the story of the "Riddle" by first relating his childhood memories of growing up on a passenger ship in the Mediterranean where learned how to navigate from his father, the ship's captain. "As the years went by, I developed a feel for the compass and the wheel" (p 2)

    This gives him a unique perspective in tracing the origins of the compass and the discovery of magnetism and it's application to the navigational compass. So years later, when he set sail on the journeyto find the origins of the compass, he was first directed to Amalfi, Italy where the first European invention of the compass was supposedly credited to a man named Flavio Gioia in 1302. Although the city of Amalfi boasts ofthe discovery of the compass with statues and the like, it doesn't take long to find serious flaws in this legend and the unfolding of that story makes for a fascinating tale in itself.

    The true history of magnetism and the compass is presented in a fascinating overview that also includes the historical use of the stars, reading of ocean currents, weather and migrating birds that helped early mariners in navigation over the centuries.

    The Chinese are credited by most historians as being the discoverors of magnetism and this possibly as far back as 1000 BC. They found that magnetic lodestone had an effect on metal and when a piece of spoon-shaped metal was magnetised by it and then placed in water, it always pointed South. Initially, thisdiscovery was used for divination and land coordinates, but eventuallywas adapted to sailing for navigation.

    From the ancient Chinese, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Europeans to the modern times, the story of the compass and so much more is thoroughly covered. This is an excellent read!

    As a companion to Aczel's fine book and for more compass info,I also recommend "The Compass" by Paula Z. Hogan, 1980. Although written for children, it is informative and suitable for all ages and backgrounds and in 60 pages, packs more compass facts than any other book I have seen.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Left Some Explanations Open
    The topic was certainly interesting, but the device is so simple that it's a little difficult to go much deeper than the author did. He certainly cites enough documents, but, not too unexpectedly, they seem to talk to human events rather than of anything technical. It's good to know about how the sixteen points came about, but he offered no explanation about what I consider the somewhat bizarre naming of the points. Maybe I'm missing something, but is the scheme for name ordering the points between, say, N and E, the same as from, say, E to S?

    The section of Flavio Gioia left me almost as confused about the supposed inventor of the 'modern' (1302?!!) compass as the Italians who erected a statue in 1902 to this apparently fictional character. The name Gioia appears from nowhere.

    I would like to have more detail about how early navigators actually did some of their navigation, but what he did supply was still interesting. Not too long ago I was in the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and saw some interesting devices the Scandinavians used. Unfortunately,a huge crowd of students made it difficult to really figure out and even see what the exhibit had to offer. It would have been good to see the detail offered there expressed in such a book as this.

    I found a section near the very end of the book a little puzzling. He talks about how the Chinese were very secretive about their discoveries, and mentions they had a cure for malaria for some two centuries. Only recently has it become known to the West. It's based on a herb that's not only found in China but in N. America. He never mentions what it is! This is somehow how I felt about the book. It seemed to leave the door open for other answers to items discussed in the book.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Amateurish and poorly researched.
    I'll put it simply: this is a poor history of the compass. For almost ten years, publishers have been throwing money at anyone who might attempt to repeat the success of Dava Sobel's 'Longitude', and here we see the worst outcome of that lust for success. This book is worthless.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0156007533
    Sales Rank: 31590
    Subjects:  1. Compass    2. Electromagnetism    3. History    4. Navigation    5. Science    6. Science/Mathematics    7. Scientific Instruments    8. Science / Electromagnetism   


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