The early Middle Ages have been dismissed as a step backwards for civilization-a barbaric time in which warfare and conquest eclipsed learning and progress. But were the "Dark Ages" really so bleak? Art historian Waldemar Januszczak (Every Picture Tells a Story) says no, then takes US on an artistic journey back to this much-maligned epoch to reveal the evidence. He travels from Britain to North Africa and from Byzantium to Spain, finding beauty and refinement where one might have expected only brutality and destruction. With Januszczak as a gregarious guide, witness the mysteries of early Christian art, Islam's masterly mosques, intricate Anglo-Saxon metalwork, and the painstakingly illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels. Along the way, discover that the people who rose from the ashes of the Roman Empire did not lack for wisdom or beauty-they created their own age of light.