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BECOMING CHARLEMAGNE:
EUROPE, BAGHDAD, AND THE
EMPIRES OF A.D. 800
(2006)

Published by Ecco/HarperCollins, Becoming Charlemagne focused on five years in the reign of the real-life warlord who inspired centuries of legends and lore. From the beginning, I set out to write a short, accessible narrative for newcomers to medieval history, a goal that evolved from the college classes I was teaching at the time. While emphasizing the long-distance diplomacy between kings, emperors, and popes, I tried to portray medieval history on a human scale. 

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In a starred review, Publishers Weekly praised Becoming Charlemagne for offering "dazzling glimpses of Charlemagne's life and times." The assessment of Kirkus Reviews was as positive as it was philosophical: "Debunking the myths that surround legendary figures is a tricky business, but Sypeck acknowledges the allure of the ways in which Charlemagne and his era have been romanticized, mitigating the sting and turning it into an educational opportunity." Booklist hailed Becoming Charlemagne as "an inspired, instantly readable work of popular history."

 

The years I spent promoting Becoming Charlemagne took me to interesting venues, from a museum of arms and armor in Massachusetts to a tea salon in suburban New Orleans. I'm gratified to know that the book is still in print as a HarperPerennial paperback. You can order a copy from Amazon here.