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Barbarian West 400 - 1000 [Paperback]

J. M. Wallace-Hadrill
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 9, 1996 0631202927 978-0631202929 4
In the fourth century the Roman Empire was under threat. The Barbarians were becoming a powerful force in Europe, and the Huns, the most savage of these tribesmen, were sweeping south towards the imperial frontiers. At the same time the Empire faced growing internal social and economic problems: plague and war had diminished the agricultural population and productivity was falling; the army was under increasing strain in defending the extensive boundaries. Christianity, too, continued to prove an unsettling influence - accepted and established in Constantinople, but not in Rome.

In this perceptive and stimulating book, Professor Wallace-Hadrill traces the development of Western Europe from the dissolution of the late Roman Empire to the emergence, in the tenth century, of the individual states of medieval Europe. Now in its fourth edition, The Barbarian West contains a fully revised and up-to-date bibliography.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'The author is to be congratulated on a suggestive and valuable essay.' --English Historical Review

'Shows thought and enterprise and freshness of judgement.' --Times Literary Supplement

From the Back Cover

In the fourth century the Roman Empire was under threat. The Barbarians were becoming a powerful force in Europe, and the Huns, the most savage of these tribesmen, were sweeping south towards the imperial frontiers. At the same time the Empire faced growing internal social and economic problems: plague and war had diminished the agricultural population and productivity was falling; the army was under increasing strain in defending the extensive boundaries. Christianity, too, continued to prove an unsettling influence - accepted and established in Constantinople, but not in Rome.

In this perceptive and stimulating book, Professor Wallace-Hadrill traces the development of Western Europe from the dissolution of the late Roman Empire to the emergence, in the tenth century, of the individual states of medieval Europe. Now in its fourth edition, The Barbarian West contains a fully revised and up-to-date bibliography.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 4 edition (December 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631202927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631202929
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,482,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense starting point, but good. March 23, 2004
Format:Paperback
This is a short little book that is tackling a very large subject. It also, self-consciously is limiting the extent it covers its subject, thus the limiting of 400 A.D. to 1000 A.D. It is also limited in that originally the book was written in 1952, only with some updating done in both '67 and '85. At its core is still a good framework for what was known on the subject in 1950.
All that said it does provide a good little introduction to the topic of post-Roman Barbarian folk movements. The major tribes involved in those movements in Western Europe were the Franks, Goths, Lombards, and a few others. Because of the historical record being a lot of Swiss-cheese, with writers from the past often confusing one tribe for another, or using words for Goth or Frank as a generic term meaning "Any German dude" complicates the modern understanding of the situation.
The major reason people find the study of these folk movements and invasions confusing is because even the people writing about it at the time, the Roman-Celtic peoples living in Italy, Spain and France were confused by it. This has lead to history scholars being confused about it to a certain extent. Naturally enough, this leads to a lot of confusion among laypersons on the subject.
This is only a good introduction though. If you are seriously interested in any of the tribes in particular, then you may wish to look elsewhere. But for an understanding of some of the major interrelationship disputes the various tribes had with the Romans and each other, then this provides a good starting point.
Of particular value is the books endnotes and bibliography. These provide direction for the person looking to continue and learn more about the topics and issues raised herein.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars does the author care if you know March 18, 2008
Format:Paperback
This book covers one of the most confused periods in western history, and I must say it left me more confused than enlightened.

The novice may gain superficial knowledge about the Lombards, Visigoths, Franks, and Ostrogoths, from Hadrill's compact book, but not much else. (I challenge any beginner who trodded through this to say anything illuminating about Visigothic Spain!)

Too many times the author frolics about interpreting documents and developments without giving any background information. If I did not know any better, I would think he was having a debate in his own mind. Hadrill certainly lacks expositional skills, nor is his ability to write clear english any better.

I would not recommend this to a novice (layperson or student). It is one of those books you read, set down, reflect upon, and realize you do not remember anything it said.
For an advanced student who has the requisite background knowledge, it might serve as a contentious (brilliant? tendentious?) interpretive history, but for the beginner it is gibberish.

History professors should stop using this text in introductory courses. Why not pick a text by an author who actually cares about EXPLAINING the Barbarian West to students so that they will UNDERSTAND the time period. Methinks Hadrill wishes to impress with his erudition too much.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor Introduction June 23, 2005
Format:Paperback
I purchased this book as an introduction to post-Roman European history, and while I found it informative, I was thoroughly disappointed by the author's presentation skills. Every sentence in this 170-or-so page book is laden with information, many times based on facts which the author already assumes the reader knows or which he had briefly discussed thirty pages prior in one line. Many times the new facts seem unrelated to each other, connected only by flimsy transitions written in the airy manner. The book is also far too dense to serve as any useful introduction to the relevant time period. The abscence of maps and family trees, two things which would greatly ease the burden of the reader from the rapid-fire assault of new facts, further decrease the legibility of this book.

Walle-Hadrill attempts to introduce and discuss the histories of all major Germanic tribes that existed during a 600-year time period in less than 170 pages. It really doesn't work and is too challenging for someone in need of a good introduction. Also, and this may come as a surprise to some, much new research has been done over the last five decades in the matter of medieval history and thus this book may be missing some fundamental facts that have only recently been discovered. For those in need of a good introduction to the time period, I would recommend a relatively new book that is either less ambitious in its goals or substantially longer and inclusive of maps, trees, and other useful presentation devices.
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