Long pictured as a big sleep, the middle ages was also a time of awakening--of Christianity, the universities, the cities. Professor Dahmus (medieval history at Pennsylvania State University), a noted scholar (History of Medieval Civilization, Seven Medieval Kings), here offers a solid interpretation for the general reader. Starting with the decline of Rome and the siege of Europe by barbarians and Moslems, Dahmus carries his account to the dawn of the 16th century. With remarkable clarity, he treats religious, political, social, cultural, and economic developments, and shows how classical, Christian, and foreign influences coalesced during the middle ages to form the basis of modern Western civilization. In the past, Dahmus has been faulted for writing for scholars in too sprightly language with too few indications of sources. This is, of course, not as apparent in a popular history, and readers will be fascinated particularly by his account of the style of life under feudalism.