Book Review: Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages by Dan Jones (four stars)
‘That all this can still be traced back to the machinations of powerful men in the seventh century a.d. may seem astonishing—but as so often proves the case, the Middle Ages remain with us today.’
Excellent overview of the trends and influences of that epoch of history roughly between the fifth and sixteenth centuries. Thematically developed with attention to inventions, economics, trade, religion, and exploration. Ties many streams together to promote understanding.
‘For generations, historians have been trying to fight the idea that the medieval Crusades were at root a “clash of civilizations” between the Christian and Islamic worlds. For one thing, such a stark and binary reading of medieval history plays uncomfortably into the narratives of extremist factions today.’
Readable and engaging prose. Like a novelist, Jones starts chapters in the middle of that topic and backtracks to develop his tale. Occasionally confusing. Ties historic and contemporary events, occasionally padding with personal opinion and bias.
‘My aim with all my books is to entertain as well as inform. If this one does a little bit of both, I shall consider it a blessing.’