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Famous Men of the Middle Ages Review by Dr. Anne Margaret WrightJohn Haaren, AB Poland, and Leigh Lowe
4105 Bishop Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40218
The book Famous Men of the Middle Ages ($16.95) has something for everyone: lots of adventure and excitement for kids and lots of great history for parents. Memoria Press was started by a homeschooling mom, Cheryl Lowe, who wanted to publish books for classical Christian education that are affordable and easy to read. This book covers the often turbulent period from the end of the ancient times to the beginning of the modern age by presenting the fascinating stories of 33 individuals or groups of people from this time period. Many of the names are easily recognized, such as Charlemagne, Edward the Confessor, Marco Polo, William Tell, Attila the Hun, and Joan of Arc (yes, she is a woman in a book about famous men, but she was very significant to history!). Others are perhaps less well known, such as Canute the Great, Peter the Hermit, Edward the Black Prince, and Egbert the Saxon.
Most of the stories are just a few pages long, making them ideal for a short unit study or a springboard for a more in-depth study. They are written as stories, not as dry history, which makes the information more interesting and easier to remember. The stories would be appealing for late elementary grades but are probably best suited for junior high or high school grades. There are wonderful pictures to bring the stories to life, although they are all in black and white, which takes away some of their beauty. I would not say that the book is written from a specifically Christian perspective, as there is really no significant discussion of Biblical concepts that can be gained from these men's lives or moral lessons, etc. However, they certainly present much fodder for discussion about these important lessons from history.
I would like to see more of a Christian focus, perhaps in a supplemental study guide or teacher's guide, allowing important lessons to be learned from history. I also love all of the artwork but was disappointed to see these beautiful pictures only in black and white, although I'm sure that helped keep the cost of the book reasonable. All in all, my family found this to be a fascinating and well-written book about a little-understood time period. It would be appropriate for a variety of homeschooling approaches. While it was written specifically to supplement a classical education and is well suited for that purpose, it could also work well for unit studies or supplemental information or even as a reference book for major historical figures during this time period.