The Abacus and the Cross

  • by Nancy Marie Brown
  • Narrated by Suzanne Toren
  • 11 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The medieval Catholic Church, widely considered a source of intolerance and inquisitorial fervor, was not anti-science during the Dark Ages - in fact, the pope in the year 1000 was the leading mathematician and astronomer of his day. Called The Scientist Pope, Gerbert of Aurillac rose from peasant beginnings to lead the church. By turns a teacher, traitor, kingmaker, and visionary, Gerbert is the first Christian known to teach math using the nine Arabic numerals and zero.
In The Abacus and the Cross, Nancy Marie Brown skillfully explores the new learning Gerbert brought to Europe. A fascinating narrative of one remarkable math teacher, The Abacus and the Cross will captivate readers of history, science, and religion alike.

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What the Critics Say

"A thoroughly engrossing account of the Dark Ages and one of its Popes, both far less dark than popular histories teach.... The years around 1000 CE seem to be every medieval historian's favorite era, but Brown's welcome addition to the genre provides a lively, eye-opening portrait of a sophisticated Europe whose intellectual leaders showed genuine interest in learning." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Useful book, end was slightly disappointing

Would you listen to The Abacus and the Cross again? Why?

I would consider listening again, and maybe reading the Hardback, for some of the useful historical information and source material.


What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was a little disappointing, and I got the impression the author fell into the age old- trap of lionizing her subject, and presenting a rather uncritical picture of his life and times.
So much so that the centuries preceeding his death are represented in an unfavourable light, a few generalizations made, and the achievements of later figures often ignored.


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- Medieval Lady

The story of the life of Gerbert d'Aurillac

This audio book plunges you into the world of Medieval Europe at the turn of the first Millennium. The framework is the life of Gerbert d'Aurillac who is a fascinating and much maligned figure who became Pope in 999 but is forgotten for his mathematical and scientific importance.
The book is packed with detail and you do need to concentrate hard to the narrative to understand the complexities of the Courts of Europe. Yet the narrator is fantastic and her clear and sublime tones fascinate and keep you listening. I am so glad I purchased this as an audio book and did not read it.
It will be of much interest to historian, scientist, theologians and just people who thirst for knowledge. Wonderfully rich and deep.
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- Gemma

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-12-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios