This morning’s New York Times repeated some of the same points I made in my post about the closure of Kirkus:

Booksellers gave mixed reviews about Kirkus’s influence. Some said they read it along with other journals, as well as talking with publishers’ sales representatives and reading advance galleys, when deciding what to buy. Others said they had long since stopped reading Kirkus….

In some ways it seemed that the passing of Kirkus was mourned much like the local deli that finally closes after a long battle with a landlord — missed as much in theory as because of its practical effect on the market.

“While I hate to see the closing of another major book review outlet, truth be told, it’s been a long time since a review there actually moved the needle in any meaningful way,” wrote Tim Duggan, executive editor at Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, in an e-mail message. “It has less to do with Kirkus than with the way the rest of the media marketplace has evolved.”

I’m not sure whether the same is true about Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal (the three industry journals still standing). But effectiveness aside…a good review in any of them still brightens a writer’s day.

So here’s the Publishers Weekly review of The History of the Medieval World, which just appeared and made me very happy indeed.

The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade
Susan Wise Bauer. Norton, $35 (640p) ISBN 978-0-393-05975-5

Bauer (The History of the Ancient World) continues her witty and well-written examination of world history with a volume that is rich in detail and intriguing in anecdotal information. In describing dramatic events (such as the worldwide –impact of the eruption of Krakatoa in 535 C.E., or civil war among the descendants of Charlemagne), near-legendary individuals (like the great general turned mercenary El Cid), and decisive historical movements from the fourth century C.E. to the beginnings of the 12th century, attention is effectively paid not only to western and eastern Europe but to North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Far East, South Asia, and the Americas. The political and military rise and fall of rulers or would-be rulers and the prominence of religion in matters of conscience and state give force and power to the narrative as does the constant impact of simple human emotion and ambition on the flow of history. A bit overwhelming in its scope, Bauer’s work nevertheless proves perfectly, and entertainingly, that the “more things change, the more they stay the same.” 20 illus., 85 maps. (Feb.)

Showing 5 comments
  • Justin

    Good review! May it be the first of many.

  • Justin

    Arrgh! Silly Publishers Weekly! Why did they say 85 maps? There are 100 maps in this book, yes?

  • LInda

    Can’t wait to read your newest book!

  • Janice in NJ

    Wonderful! So when will Amazon have copies?

    Oh – try not to be discouraged by “A bit overwhelming in scope” as you wander around in China and India discovering more “scope” for book III. I have confidence that you’ll offer up something that I can handle.


  • Christina


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