Distant Mirror

Tuchman, Barbara W. A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978.

Huge confession. Although many people called this a interesting read, I couldn’t get into it. I barely reached page 24 before I was groaning with boredom. It is obvious Tuchman writes really well and this isn’t a dry account of some historical beginning or tumultuous end, but I couldn’t get into it. At all. The premise is simple. Tuchman is comparing the 14th century’s turmoil (the Black Plague) with that of the horrors of World War I. Okay, it’s not only about that; Tuchman makes other comparisons between the 14th and 20th centuries, but that is mainly where the title gets its name. That’s as far as I got. Sad, I know.
I did manage to find one quote that I particularly enjoyed: “Nothing is known of this individual except his name, but once established on the hilltop, he produced in his descendents a strain of extraordinary strength and fury” (p 7).

Author Fact: Tuchman has a dormitory named after her on the Harvard College campus.

Book Trivia: A Distant Mirror has had a couple publishing reissues.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Barbara Tuchman: Too Good To Miss” (p 225). Obviously.

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