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I have immense respect for Thomas Cahill and this series. Cahill manages to cover a lot of ground in a few steps, encompassing politics, religion, art and culture in an engaging and informative style. His strength is in his ability to make history relevant -- why we should care what happened nine centuries or two millenia before we arrived. Where other texts often treat the reader to accounts drier than the bones of these long-dead movers and shakers, Cahill makes them as alive as the people we gossip about, and understands well what facets of a particular age will appeal to today's readers. I highly recommend this book, as well as any of the others in this series, "The Hinges of History."
So, to the one caveat: Cahill's politics do creep in; however, he offers his opinions openly and briefly.
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It is so much fun to read a book where there's a fairly routine need to stop and look up a word. Cahill's approach to history is so lively and intellectual (at least for this old brain) that I feel entirely enlivened just realizing I read the book. To highlight several illustrious historic figures (Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, and Dante Alighieri--to name a few)instead of using a linear way of covering the same ground is brilliant, not to mention fresh and stimulating, both.
But the most startlingly moving section of the book for me was his short Postlude, "Love in the Ruins" in which he describes in a heartbreaking way, how the Catholic church has so hideously betrayed its mission by its current wave of scandal. Although it might seem odd to find such a treatise on the way the Church has 'handled' the pedophilia crisis in a book about Medieval times, it is incredibly fitting--because if it were not for the Church, Cahill points out, Western Civilization as we know it would not exist.
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