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Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Review: The Middle Ages (2015) by Johannes Fried

Book Review:
The Middle Ages
 by Johannes Fried
Published January 2015 by Belknap Press at Harvard University
Translation from the German by Peter Lewis

 The academic movement to revisit the so-called "Dark Ages" of post-Roman, pre-Renaissance European Century is well over a half century old at this point.  This project is just as "revisionist" as revisionist history can be, but since this period evokes few strong emotions among teachers and students, learned Professors have done their work largely unopposed.  Much of the work in this area has been done by Authors writing and French and German, so translation is very much a part of keeping current in recent developments and more long term trends in the scholarship.

 It's easy to see that The Middle Ages by retired professor of Medieval History at Frankfurt Univerity Johannes Fried is important merely by looking at the book.  The Middle Ages is a broad narrative synthesis, meaning that it is written as much (if not more) for a lay audience, but with a depth and attention to detail that is sufficient to evoke interest from specialists in the field.  It's like, the main narrative is for the general readers, and then the notes and bibliography are for the specialists.  In this case, many of the cited sources are in German, which means that The Middle Ages is likely as close as English readers are likely to get to those books.

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