Author(s): Paul Collins
"Stimulating, encyclopedic, and often downright funny, this is a book worth remembering.” --Stephen O’Shea, Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada)
"A lively, full-to-bursting history of the turbulent tenth century in Europe.... Collins presents chaotic upheaval across Europe in an organized and riveting fashion.” --Kirkus (starred review)
The tenth century dawned in violence and disorder. Charlemagne’s empire was in ruins, most of Spain had been claimed by Moorish invaders, and even the papacy in Rome was embroiled in petty, provincial conflicts. The stability once provided by Imperial Rome had dissolved, leaving a perilous landscape behind. Yet the story of the tenth century is the story of our culture’s birth. This was the moment that civilization emerged from the Dark Ages into the light of day.
The Birth of the West tells the story of a transformation from chaos to order, exploring the alien landscape of Europe in transition. It thoroughly renovates older conceptions of feudalism and what medieval life was actually like. The result is a wholly-new vision of how civilization sprang from the unlikeliest of origins, and proof that our tenth-century ancestors are not as remote as we might think.
"The Birth of the West is a re-making of what we think we know about the end of the Dark Ages. It is also the gate to the utterly unexpected cosmos of European forebears.... The characters who people The Birth of the West are as familiar as relatives--as indeed they are--groping their way to a cohesive Western culture. The Birth of the West is thus the tale of our birth, and Collins tells it with a narrative grace and elegance which will make readers cherish it.” --Thomas Keneally, author ofSchindler’s Ark
Thomas Keneally"The Birth of the West is a re-making of what we think we know about the end of the "Dark Ages." It is also the gate to the utterly unexpected cosmos of European forebears. In some ways, from waterlogged England by way of the folk beliefs of French peasants, to the ambitious consolidation of Germany, corruption and reform in the Papacy, the machinations of Constantinople and the continuing presence of Moorish culture in Western Europe, the characters who people 'The Birth of the West' are as familiar as relatives--as indeed they are--groping their way to a cohesive Western culture as yet dominant in the world. The 'Birth of the West' is thus the tale of our birth, and Collins tells it with a narrative grace and elegance which will make readers cherish it."
"Kirkus Reviews, starred review""A lively, full-to-bursting history of the turbulent 10th century in Europe...Collins presents chaotic upheaval across Europe in an organized and riveting fashion.""
Jay Rubenstein, Professor of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and author of Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse""In The Birth of the West, Paul Collins makes accessible and exciting the world of tenth-century Europe. With a sense for both the grand narrative and for the quirks of particular personalities, Collins makes this central medieval century seem not so dark. Rather, lit by the fiery eyes of three German kings named Otto, who stand at the heart of Collins' story, it is an era of significant cultural achievement and political advance--though no less bloody for it."
"Western Europe claws its way out of the Dark Ages--just barely--in this hair-raising history.... Writing with a supple prose and an eye for colorful detail and vivid characters, Collins shapes some of history's most appalling behavior--first prize might go to Pope Steven VI, who exhumed his predecessor's rotting corpse and placed it on trial for heresy--into
Paul Collins graduated from Harvard with a master of theology, received his doctorate in philosophy in history from the Australian National University, and was ordained a Catholic priest. Since March 2001, when he resigned from active priestly ministry after thirty-three years of service due to a doctrinal dispute with the Vatican, he has been a full-time writer and radio and TV presenter. He lives in Australia.