The perfect popular history book should be like a cute little puppy, easy to pick up and hard to put down (literally or metaphorically). And this is just such a book, complete with big eager eyes and a shiny nose. But like a puppy, it isn't quite fully formed. It sets out with the noble objective of creating a coherent narrative of the era around the turn of the first millennium. The framing mechanism is the idea that lots of people were reacting to the imminent return of Christ. It doesn't really succeed. In fact it sort of shows the opposite. But that doesn't stop it from being a cracking read.
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