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The last Apocalypse
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385483368, Paperback)With the turn of the century approaching, talk of the apocalypse runs rampant. In The Last Apocalypse, James Reston reminds us that such talk is nothing new. At the previous turn of the millennium, Vikings, Moors, and Hungarian Magyars beseiged Europe with wanton cruelty and violence, spreading fear and destruction wherever they went and leading many to believe that the end of the world was near. Such colorful characters as Sigrid the Haughty, Svein Forkbeard, Ethelred the Unready, and Al-Mansor the Illustrious Victor were the heroes and villains of the era.
Reston, author of previous works that include Galileo: A Life and Sherman's March, evokes the historical essence of the time using limited legal and church documents, archaeological artifacts, and rare contemporary literary accounts. Reston's history reads like an engrossing novel, carefully crafted without getting bogged down in dry details. He skillfully interweaves the complex story of how each European country dealt with these changes, bringing the period back to life.
Reston portrays A.D. 999 as a profound turning point for mankind, mapping out the fate of each country as the Christian kingdoms, unified in belief, brutally conquered and imposed the will of Christianity upon heathen Europe. In the space of 60 years, the established ruling elite were slaughtered or forced to succumb to the turning religious tide. By A.D. 1050, the sign of the cross fell like an ominous shadow across Europe, paradoxically signifying the dawn of peace under Christian unity.
(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 11 Jan 2013 07:28:51 -0500)
In 950, Ireland, England, and France were helpless against the ravages of the seagoing Vikings; the fierce and strange Hungarian Magyars laid waste to Germany and Italy; the legions of the Moors ruled Spain and threatened the remnants of Charlemagne's vast domain. The papacy was corrupt and decadent, overshadowed by glorious Byzantium. Yet a mere fifty years later, the gods of the Vikings were dethroned, the shamans of the Magyars were massacred, the magnificent Moorish caliphate disintegrated: The sign of the cross held sway from Spain in the West to Russia in the East.James Reston, Jr.'s enthralling saga of how the Christian kingdoms converted, conquered, and slaughtered their way to dominance brings to life unforgettable historical characters who embodied the struggle for the soul of Europe. From the righteous fury of the Viking queen Sigrid the Strong-Minded, who burned unwanted suitors alive; to the brilliant but too-cunning Moor Al-Mansor the Illustrious Victor: to the aptly named English king Ethelred the Unready: to the abiding genius of the age, Pope Sylvester II - warrior-kings and concubine empresses, maniacal warrior and religious zealots, bring this stirring period to life.
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