Within each specialized community of endeavor, be it medicine, physics, porno, tiddley winks, or writing brilliant historical books, there are names and talents that the rest of us stand in awe of. In a field popular with the general public (sports, politics, entertainment), it is easy to mention people like Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Abe Lincoln – Even the uninitiated or unlearned have heard these names and know what they have done. In more specialized areas, the names are sadly not as well known to the general public, but that does not in any way diminish the impact or importance of these people. In the field of writing history, no giant has ever been bigger or better than Barbara Tuchman.
Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, Tuchman’s work is the standard against which all historical writing is measured. I could literally run the well of superlatives dry describing the ways in which this woman is the best. Even the superb David McCullough is but a pale imitation. I would advise anyone who is even tangentially interested in history to consume Tuchman’s books as I would advise a musical novice to listen to Mozart or a literary beginner to read Dickens. This torrent was upped originally on MakeGreatMusic dot Net and is unabridged and ripped to 64 kbps.
Barbara Wertheim Tuchman (January 30, 1912 – February 6, 1989) was an American self-trained historian and author. She became best known for The Guns of August, a history of the prelude and first month of World War I.
As an author, Tuchman focused on producing popular history. Her clear, dramatic storytelling covered topics as diverse as the 14th century and World War I, and sold millions of copies.
Tuchman was the author of books that aspired to be more popular than the established classics of the field. Inventing the Middle Ages by Norman Cantor, a history of medieval historians, describes her work in context.
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, published in 1978, is a work by American historian Barbara Tuchman, focusing on life in 14th century Europe.
To provide a central figure in her sweeping narrative, Tuchman chose the French nobleman Enguerrand de Coucy, partly because he lived a relatively long life and could therefore stay in the story during most of the 14th century. (De Coucy was born in 1340, seven years before the Black Death began in southern Italy. He died in 1397.) But he was chosen mostly because he was in the forefront of action tied, as he was, to both France and England. De Coucy was a French noble, but he married a daughter of Edward III of England.
The book covers the cataclysms suffered by Europe in the 14th century: the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, the papal schism, pillaging mercenaries, and popular revolts, including the Jacquerie in France, ruthlessly suppressed by de Coucy and his contemporaries, the liberation of Switzerland, the Battle of the Golden Spurs and peasant uprisings against laws that enforced the use of hops in beer. However, Tuchman does not just focus on political and religious changes. She begins her book with a discussion of the Little Ice Age, a change in climate that lowered the average temperature of Europe until the Eighteenth century. Tuchman also takes care to describe the lives of the people, from nobles and clergymen, right down to the peasantry.
Her most central text, as it is for any historian of the century, is Jean Froissart.