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Monumental? Yes certainly. Excellently written? Quite so.
A history of the 14th century? No
A history of 14th century Europe? No
A history of 14th century Anglo-French relations? Yes that should
sum it up.
Ms. Tuchman's work really is fantastic but it has been made out to be a history of the 14th century in Europe, which it is not. Details of the Church have been given but more were expected for one of the most dramatic 100 years period for the Church; a century which saw the violent passage of many heresies and of course also of the Great Schism. Further the author almost ignores into oblivion the Germanic princes and the Holy Roman Empire. Relations with the Orient too have been glossed over or brushed aside. It seems that Eastern Europe and Russia have no business being in Ms. Tuchman's. work and nor do the various emirates of Muslim Spain.
However whatever Ms. Tuchman does write about she writes really well. I don't think she has left out anything from the 14th century history of the Hundred Years War. The author goes into greats depths of the relations between the French and English courts, the lives of the nobles, the battles and the ideas of Chivalry, the trade, commerce and taxation aspects. Innumerable short annecdotes have been cleverly woven into the history to endear the reader to the work and to bring the history of the period alive. Unfortunately Ms. Tuchman always ends up only mildly chastising if not completely pardoning English war crimes and courtly machinations while condemning severely similar acts on the part of the French. She does however herself make note of a similar attitude of the 14th century English for their own atrocities vis a vis those committed by their French contemporaries.
I would recommend it for how much one can learn about writing from Ms Tuchman and also for the Anglo-French history it does talk about.

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An EXCELLENT book. Loaded with facts, with just as much interpretation as adds flavor. I was through it and wishing for more. Not at all dry; but neither is it debased to be 'easier to read' by any means. An ideal for casual historical account, the perfect book for bringing to the beach when you want something better than a thriller or action-adventure scifi novel 

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User Review  - piquant00 -

Eminently readable history of Europe in the high middle ages, with parallels to our "modern" sociopolitical problems. Read full review

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