A Distant Mirror (1978)

Creators

Barbara Tuchman (writer).

Extent

Read in 2018.

Categorization

Narrative history.

Subject

The charming and level-headed nobleman Enguerrand de Coucy (1340–1397) and, through him, the entire milieu of 14th-century Europe with an emphasis on agricultural, medical, religious and political crises in England, France and Italy.

Commentary

Not every aside is equally engaging, but the grand sweep is amazing. Tuchman picks out the telling details, like elderly people having difficulty reading, and a third of the population being under the age of 14 as a reason for the apparent puerility of the culture.

non-fiction text