The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople by Susan Wise Bauer

The History of the Medieval World gave us that history up to the end of the First Crusade, with this book picking up in the wake of that around 1100 and carrying us to 1453–the approximate beginning of the Renaissance. So why is this book labeled like this when practically every other historian agrees on the labeling? As near as I can tell, it’s because this is when the texts of the Ancient Greeks were first rediscovered, just as the title claims. I realize the devil’s in the details, but that’s pedantic. This book, like the two volumes before it, is for general audiences that want to see how the pieces fit together. Confusing people with something that arbitrary seems pointless.

What is not pointless is this book. As with the Ancient and Medieval World volumes before it, this book covers all of the hotspots of the globe, East and West. To see how the world of the Samurai line up with that of the Crusaders or the Mongols is just astounding. If you’ve not read the previous two volumes, get them. Everything in these books serves to show the cause and effect of historical events and the people who rode through them. Names and dates are there as references, but the personalities are touched upon so as to give the overview some meaning and provide that perfect springboard for future learning.

I really want a book on the Renaissance and Reformation now so as to continue the flow of these works. When viewed through the long lens, it’s easy to see how the world we live in today is built upon all of that which has gone before. To the people who lived back then, it’s always the modern world, just as ours is for us. Why there aren’t more history books written like this, I’ll never know. Kudos all around for this book and for its predecessors for making history both broad enough to see the big picture and detailed enough to understand it in context as the sum of its parts.

5 stars

bauer-renaissance-world

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