Review of William Manchester's a World Lit Only by Fire

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Review of William Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire
William Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire: the Medieval Mind and the Renaissance is a historical, nonfiction book that I found to be both only intriguing and enticing, despite its beginning and ending parts. The beginning chapter of Manchester's book, "The Medieval Mind," was quite slow and overly informative, although a bright spot was illuminated with the discussion of peasant life and customs in the Dark Ages. The ending section, "One Man Alone," seemed completely out of place when included with the rest of the story, although Manchester's extreme affinity to Magellan was painfully obvious. The middle story, however, was not only fascinating and well written, but researched outstandingly well. This middle part of the nonfiction, "The Shattering," overshadowed the rest of the book with its alluring anecdotes of medieval, Church, and Renaissance history. This chapter was the bulk of the volume, and thank heavens for it, for otherwise Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire would have been a painstaking read and exceedingly dull.

"The Medieval Mind" was but a short twenty-eight pages, yet upon these pages Manchester put down a multitude, and perhaps a surplus, of facts. The first part was filled with strict history, telling of the Huns, Visigoths, and Osgoths. In what could have been a fascinating tale of history, Manchester transpired into lists of conquered nations, lands, and peoples. Picking himself up, Manchester then began to tell in eloquent detail the stories of those living during the Dark Ages and, thusly, the famines, plagues, and pandemics that cursed the time. More dreadful lists followed this, however, discussing varying religions of the time, such as Paganism. This discussion ultimately transgressed into the tale of Christianity's and Catholism's supremacy during the medieval era. Here, Manchester told of Aurelius Augustinus, who had an incredible impact on Christianity. One of his...
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