However, both books start their coverage with the year 1500, when the Middle Ages was coming to an end.Anyway, he's a great writer and that made me open to reading this book, that and it's really short. I'd never known much about the humanists or Luther or how the Reformation developed.But whenever he attempts broad descriptions of life in any period it feels really shaky. Human behavior is infinitely variable, it's how prevalent a type of behavior is that really counts.I've read several Manchester books in the past and even visited Essen while in Germany after reading The Arms of Krupp.They looked at me pretty weirdly at the youth hostel--I think I was the only American tourist they had that year.Rodney Stark has also written on life in medieval Europe: I just read (the first half or so) of Western Europe in the Middle Ages 300-1475 by Brian Tierney and Sidney Painter; I think Tierney revised Painter - sorry touchstones not available. I'm currently reading Church and State in Early Christianity (through the 8th century) by patristics scholar Hugo Rahner and intend to read Tierney's The Crisis of Church and State: 1050-1300. It looks like whoever would add these Tierney books would boost their obscurity. is there a specific country or time during the Middle Ages that you are interested in, or are you looking for a general book just to get the basics?It really depends what you're interested in...economics? A general survey of the Dark Ages in Europe from the loss of Roman influence to the defeat of Harold at Battle, near Hastings, in England.Somewhere among the articles about amphibians and Damon & Pythias was an entry on the Dark Ages, with a description of a terrible lapse of civilization.Manchester doesn't go much beyond this before he gets to his real work narrating the exciting developments of the Renaissance.He talks about the "mindlessness" of the people of the medieval period (tell that to Abelard or Aquinas or any number of chroniclers, theologians and academics). ) Apparently peasants didn't have surnames (not true, or at least so simple). Usually I am one of those people who needs to experience something to judge it, but recently I have been finding that reviews by qualified individuals are enough to direct me in other directions.My favorite was "the medieval man's lack of self ego" (page 21). I am a scholar of Giraldus Cambrensis and the man had a huge ego. I was also plannin gon reading this book, but now I'll move to the next option.