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A History of the Byzantine State and Society Paperback – October 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0804726306 ISBN-10: 0804726302 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1044 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804726302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804726306
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The last few years have seen a renewed interest in Byzantium (e.g., John J. Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium, LJ 4/1/97, and Treadgold's previous Byzantium and Its Army 284-1081, Stanford Univ., 1995). Byzantium's role in shaping and passing down to us the tradition, law and literature of the Greeks and Romans was vital to the rejuvenation of Western civilization. With this work the author (history, Florida International Univ.) has produced a comprehensive history of Byzantium that covers both state development and societal change. Working from original sources and modern works, he weaves social and political developments into a vivid story of Byzantium's existence over the span of 1100 years. His work differs from Norwich's literary narrative compilations by drawing on the latest scholarship. Written for both the general reader and the scholar, this work may well become the standard English-language history of Byzantium. Highly recommended.?Robert Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A vivid story of Byzantium's existence over the span of 1,100 years. . . . Drawing on the latest scholarship and written for both the general reader and the scholar, this work may well become the standard English-language history of Byzantium."—Library Journal


"Fluently written for the general reader—few will tire of its 850 pages of text—its coherent account reflects the most up-to-date scholarship."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

More About the Author

Warren Treadgold received his doctorate from Harvard University, has taught at UCLA, Stanford University, and UC Berkeley, and is now National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Byzantine Studies at Saint Louis University.

Customer Reviews

He avoids Norwich's foible of sensationalizing Byzantine history, yet manages to tell an intriguing story nonetheless.
trowbridgee@asme.org
This book is an excellent introduction to the history of the Byzantine Empire for one who is reasonably well read in the general history of the periods covered.
David E. Blair
Professor Treadgold's method is to determine the best answer to a confusing historical question and present it without hesitation or qualification.
Lawrence R. Barusch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Douglas W. Trabaris on January 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read most recent books on Byzantium, and believe this one to be the best. Unlike most recent books -- even including the very well-written 3 volume Norwich history -- this one delves into very interesting details of the state budget. While details of how the Byzantine Empire budget evolved over the centuries may not fascinate most people, I thought it showed the relative size and prosperity of the state. Also interesting (to me at least) are the ethnographical maps and military analyzes. Moreover, the book flows very nicely and keeps the reader's interest until the very end.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Marc Osborne on May 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is only for those who really like Byzantine history and it's best for those who like old-fashioned, narrative, history. That may be a small target audience, but if you fit, you'll probably love the book like I did. Treadgold's strength is the lives of the most important people in the empire, especially the emperors. Although there are separate chapters on economic and social trends, often important religious and social developments are woven into chronologies based on the emperors' lives. Treadgold also emphasizes the significance of events within the empire over external ones. For instance, in discussing the decline of the empire in the latter half of the eleventh century, he details at (very interesting) length the personal weaknesses of the emperors, but hardly mentions the strengths of the Turks. That's not necessarily a criticism; he may simply think that other historians over-emphasize the importance of external factors on the history of the empire. But he doesn't always alert you when he's propounding unconventional views. He sees the battle of Manzikert as being much less significant than do many other Byzantine and military historians. I have no idea who is right, but Treadgold doesn't mention the conventional understanding of the battle at all; he simply asserts that most of the Byzantine army survived and goes on.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By R Boast/D Edmunds on January 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Why should anyone who is not Greek care about Byzantium, Professor Treadgold asks in his introduction to this magnificent book. Because, he answers, Byzantium fashioned and passed on Christian theology, Roman law and classical literature to the modern world. Byzantine culture underpins the Christian Orthodox culture of Serbia, Russia, Bulgaria and Greece, and is also worth studying as a civilization because it is so very different from our own. Warren Treadgold, author of two excellent books on the Byzantine army and on Byzantium's revival in the late eighth-early ninth centuries has now written the definitive one-volume history from the "refoundation of the [Roman] empire" by Diocletian in 284 (an interesting and novel starting-point) to the fall of the City of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. Treadgold has with this book completely surpassed the older one-volume histories of Vasiliev and Ostrogorsky. This book is also far superior to Norwich's three-volume history which tries far too hard to make Byzantine history entertaining - it is absorbing and fascinating enough as it is. Treadgold writes unpretentiously and clearly and as well as presenting an excellent synthesis has some novel ideas of his own, such as his analysis of the origins of the theme system, which he convincingly attributes to the emperor Constans II. Treadgold brings out above all the amazing resilience of the Byzantine state, which almost fell apart after the reign of Heraclius but which then recovered strongly to become the dominant Christian state by the start of the eleventh century. The book is also superbly produced by Stanford University Press and comes with an excellent bibliographical survey. A real bargain - everyone even remotely interested in the Byzantines should read it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence R. Barusch on June 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Professor Treadgold writes a clear, precise and forceful account of a dozen centuries of eastern Mediterranean history. This is the best introduction to Byzantium of this generation, perhaps ever.
The newcomer to the field (along with many others) will find that rulers, battles, even entire nations, enter and exit these pages with confusing rapidity. To assist the reader, Professor Treadgold provides a generous collection of photos of art, architecture and coins, detailed maps, lists of rulers, explanatory notes, genealogy charts and a user friendly index.
Professor Treadgold's method is to determine the best answer to a confusing historical question and present it without hesitation or qualification. Occasionally a footnote explains why the second-best hypothesis is absurd. Inevitably, those familiar with the field will find themselves disagreeing on some points, but this approach constitutes the strength of the book. The field is beset by quarrels of little significance (what difference does it make who fathered Leo the Wise?). Professor Treadgold brushes these aside to allow the narrative to flow freely and the patterns and connections to emerge.
Byzantium had its own historians, who do not please the modern taste. We would like to know, but are not told, how Byzantines educated their children or chose their mates. Foreign cultures, archaeology, science, even the system for administering justice tend to be passed over as unworthy of attention. The criticisms of this book stem from Professor Treadgold's decision to rely principally on the written records produced by the Byzantines. Doubtless there are fascinating books to be written on this time and place using other materials, but they will not be Byzantine history.
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