After covering the history of pre-civilization on through antiquity in her first tome with The History of the Ancient World, Susan Wise Bauer returns with the next volume in the four-book series, The History of the Medieval World. Weighing in at over seven hundred pages, Bauer has once again outdone herself covering the fall of Rome in the third to fourth centuries on up to the first crusade in the eleventh century. What makes Bauer’s work so beneficial as well as important is that she is not simply covering the history of Europe, but concurrently relates to the reader the rise and fall of rulers and people of the Middle East and India, as well as Asia; in The History of the Medieval World, Bauer even has a number of chapters dedicated to the Americas and the growth of Mesoamerica.
Perhaps what makes these works so seminal is Bauer’s telling concurrently of all these civilizations’ events, happenings and histories, providing interrelating details and facts to link everything together. While this may seem somewhat overwhelming in a block of text, Bauer breaks this up with numerous maps – at least one per chapter – explaining where the events are happening and to who, as well as occasional photos to further illustrate a point. At the end of each chapter is an invaluable table that lists the chronological events of the chapter with dates, as well as other columns listings events of other civilizations in previous chapters.
In this way the reader never becomes lost or confused, with all these facets that help keep him or her on track. Of course, there is also an extensive bibliography and a lengthy index to provide easy referencing, as well as a full table of contents with one-sentence chapter summaries. It appears inevitable now that when the last two volumes of this series are complete, the four-book set will be an important collection for any fan of history, be they teacher, student, or amateur historian.
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Originally written on May 3 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.