“A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance” offers historical insight across a broad sweep of time, beginning with the fall of the Eternal City of Rome in the fifth century, through the bleak and uncertain times that were the Middle Ages, to the reflowering of European civilization during the Renaissance. Manchester touches on the key characters and conflicts of the age, including the great thinkers, artists, philosophers, and scientists that brought European society to the brink of modernity. Although Manchester’s views on the Middle Ages may be a bit outdated, this book serves as an excellent overview of the Renaissance and its precedents.

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