Monday, July 1, 2013

Evidence Please

The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era by Norman F. Cantor

Summary: There may be no more fascinating historical period than the late fourteenth century in Europe. It was a world in transition, soon to be replaced by the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration - and John of Gaunt was its central figure. Norman F. Cantor, the best known and most popular historian of the Middle Ages, brings Gaunt to life in his newest work, The Last Knight." John of Gaunt was the richest man in Europe, apart from its monarchs, and he epitomized and surpassed the ideals of the late Middle Ages. From chivalry - he was taught at a young age to fight on horseback like the knights of old - to courtly love - his three marriages included two romantic love-matches - he was an ideal leader. He created lavish courts, sponsoring Chaucer and proto-Protestant religious thinkers, and he survived the dramatic Peasants' Revolt, during which his sumptuous London residence was burned to the ground.

Review: A barely there biography of John Gaunt along with sweeping generalizations and many references to homosexuality and billionaire capitalists.

I am very interested in medieval history along with medieval literature. I want to study the medieval period for my PhD. I plan on starting to read more about the medieval period along with medieval scholarship. The Last Knight seemed like a good book to read to get an idea of the late medieval period. Unfortunately, some reviews on Goodreads warned me that the book might not be such a great read. Reading the book only confirmed the poor quality of this book.

The author has won awards and honors and is has written a number of bestsellers. For someone who has researched and written about scholarly subjects, I found his scholarship lacking. The author's biography on Goodreads puts it best: his books generally received mixed reviews in academic journals. He makes grand sweeping generalizations and provides little to no evidences, assumes to know what John Gaunt was thinking and feeling, and often harps on homosexuality and billionaire capitalists. I did learn some interesting information about the medieval although I plan on reading more accurate books to gain more knowledge and understanding.


Recommendation: I can't recommend this book due to the faulty and misleading content.

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