A pair of books considering the Middle Ages via topical arrangement; the other, simultaneously published, is Medieval People. In both, the device is fairly effective in shedding light on what it was like to live in Western Europe between the fifth and fifteenth centuries. Introducing locales like ""The Field,"" ""The Road,"" ""The Parish Church,"" or ""The University"" with brief quotes from the period (mostly identified, e.g. as from Froissart, Chaucer, or ""a medieval writer""), Howarth covers each in just three pages, adequate to bring together some useful concepts about ""The Forest"" (the royal monopoly on game, forest law, poachers, Robin Hood) but less useful for those that have been treated in depth elsewhere (""The Castle""). The format is attractive, with well-chosen period illustrations, half in color. Many of the captions give time and place; others, like the text, perpetuate the erroneous impression that the entire millennium was dominated by a single well-ordered society. Also, some pictures are reproduced so small that the point is hard to discern--e.g., a tapestry meant to contrast the costumes of peasants and nobility. Overall: useful supplementary material in the standard British-import style, with plenty of facts and little interpretation or new insights; choppy but serviceable prose and interesting arrangement. Glossary; further reading (just eight other textbook-like books); index.