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Rome and the Barbarians, 100 B.C.-A.D. 400 (Ancient Society and History) Hardcover – September 8, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


An excellent book that comes from eleven years of painstaking research. Thomas S. Burns has written a readable and well-documented survey of Rome and the numerous peoples to its north... The book is exceptionally well organized... This book is useful for research and in the classroom not only because of its extensive documentation and bibliography but also because it is readable both for scholars and students.

(John F. DeFelice History: Reviews of New Books 2004-01-00)

An excellent study... Burns breaks the stereotype of the barbarians as destructive savages held in check by the Roman Empire. In its place he offers a balanced view of an evolving relationship between complex, diverse societies on the barbarian side and the civilized Romans... The book is enhanced by Burns's very effective integration of the traditional literary sources with the testimony of archaeological evidence... Sheds light on an important aspect of Roman history and is valuable to both the scholar and the beginning student.

(J. P. Karras Journal of Military History 2004-01-00)

Anyone who has struggled to convey to a class the manifold ways in which the establishment of a legionary fortress revolutionized the life of a region will envy Burns' pedagogical fluency.

(Michael Kulikowski Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004-01-00)

I recommend the book highly as an informed, up-to-date, and well-written review of a huge amount of data, easily readable and well referenced.

(Peter S. Wells International History Review 2005-01-00)

This detailed analysis of Roman-barbarian interaction rests on a very solid scholarly base.

(Choice 2004-01-00)

<I>Rome and the Barbarians, </I>is a book that will delight both academics and their students.

(Gocha R. Tsetskhladze Ancient West and East 2006-01-00)

A thought-provoking analysis... A good foundation upon which future studies can build.

(James Chlup Ordia Prima 2006-01-00)

A remarkably even-handed portrait of Roman-northern action and reaction.

(Frank M. Clover Classical Review 2005-01-00)

Burns brings thirty years of extensive study of the literary and archaeological evidence to bear on the nature of the impact not only that the Romans had on the barbarians but also that the barbarians had on the Romans. Fortified with a thorough exposition of the source material, meticulous analysis, and provocative suggestions, <I>Rome and the Barbarians</I> will take the dialogue to another level.

(Ralph W. Mathisen, University of South Carolina)

A very good read for any student interested in the Romans or the barbarians.

(New York Military Affairs Symposium Newsletter 2009-01-00)

From the Back Cover

The barbarians of antiquity, so long a fixture of the public imagination as the savages who sacked and destroyed Rome, emerge in this colorful, richly textured history as a much more complex—and far more interesting—factor in the expansion, and eventual unmaking, of the Roman Empire. Thomas S. Burns marshals an abundance of archaeological and literary evidence, as well as three decades of study and experience, to bring forth an unusually far-sighted and wide-ranging account of the relations between Romans and non-Romans along the frontiers of western Europe from the last years of the Republic into late antiquity.</P><P>"Anyone who has struggled to convey to a class the manifold ways in which the establishment of a legionary fortress revolutionized the life of a region will envy Burns' pedagogical fluency."— <I>Bryn Mawr Classical Review</I></P><P>"I recommend the book highly as an informed, up-to-date, and well-written review of a huge amount of data, easily readable and well referenced."— <I>International History Review</I></P><P>"[A] book that will delight both academics and their students."— <I>Ancient West and East</I></P><P>"A remarkably even-handed portrait of Roman-northern action and reaction."— <I>Classical Review</P><P></I><B>Thomas S. Burns </B>is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History at Emory University. His many books include <I>The Ostrogoths: Kingship and Society; A History of the Ostrogoths; Barbarians within the Gates of Rome: Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians; </I>and, with John W. Eadie, <I> Urban Centers and Rural Contexts in Late Antiquity.</I>


Product Details

  • Series: Ancient Society and History
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1st edition (September 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801873061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801873065
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,587,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Frank Camm on December 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of very long essays on the relationships between Rome and the barbarian societies present beyond or within its European frontier boundaries north of the Alps. Each essay focuses on one part of the Roman frontier in Europe and/or some period of time during the span of time in the title. I found that the level of care and detail displayed in the essays tended to fall as the essays moved from the west (Gaul and Batavia) to the east (Dacia) and from the earliest period (the late Republic) to the latest period (late Empire) covered in the book. I could never figure out how Prof. Burns organized any of these essays. They have no roadmaps, summaries, concluding sections, or subtitle markings to light the way. Mainly, I experienced a well-read, subtle scholar working his way through issues he thought were important for each essay, reaching out as he drove on to the treasure trove of references that he has accumulated in his study or office over the course of his long career. The experience is a bit like eating tapas. You get lots of interesting things to eat through the course of a meal that someone else has planned, but can't predict what will arrive next or why one has appeared with another.

The focus throughout is clearly on Rome--on mainly Roman sources and on events within Roman boundaries or that result from Roman actions. I came to the book mainly to learn more about the barbarian communities of Europe. In fairness, the title, the dust cover, and everything about the book makes it clear that Rome will be the focus--just a heads up for anyone who might have come to this book with priorities like mine.

The references are a goldmine for any amateur like me who wants to know what is available and where to look next.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. C. Simpson on January 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Burns has painstakingly compiled a career's worth of educational study to show the relationships created, nurtured and harnessed between the Roman people and the ancient tribes of Western and Eastern Europe. You may find it suprising the actual dependencies held between both groups. The establishment of border "Barbarians" to shield long held Roman interests from the more savage of the norther tribes is a very old view of modern allied states. The Roman Republic and subsequent Empire was, in a very few words, a complex diplomatic, economic and military machine. The numerous working parts required much more than the strong arm presumed by most passing readers. The ability to successfully manage this type of entity placed incredible demands on Rome and its leaders while, at the same time, provided the proving (battle) grounds for all aspiring Roman up and comers. Burns does a fantastic job in showing that not only did Rome use the Barbarian tribes to prove the mettle of Roman officers, but integrated these same tribes into what would eventually become the ancient worlds greatest "modern" economy. The fall of the Roman Empire is shown not to be the cause of irresistible hordes of barbarian invaders, but the inherent impossibility of managing the vastness of Roman interests. Thomas Burns has earned his merits as a Roman scholar and in doing so brings to light a broad expanse of history and speculation that is integral to the study of Rome. Recommend this book to anyone who seeks a wide understanding of Rome and the group who both sustained and eventually became its citizenry - the Barbarians.
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34 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on April 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the revisionist account that grafts modern concepts of `diversity' `tolerance' and `cultural awareness' onto people who lived in 100 B.C. In this book it is assumed that since Rome dared to make value judgments and condemn the barbarians, who in fact were savage and ruthless, that Rome must somehow be some sort of evil hegemon like America and the Barbarians must have been `noble savages' like innocent peace loving native Americans. Unfortunately this is revisionist tripe. The reality is the barbarians actually were savage and it took Roman civilization to pacify and civilize them. Only by serving in the legion and learning roman ways of life and settling in the provinces did the barbarian tribes like the Gauls adopt civilization and become what we know today as the medieval europeans. If it hadn't been for Rome and Rome's extraordinary pursuit of science and technology and administration Europe would be a cultural backwater of feuding tribes to this day, much the way Creaser found it in 30 AD. In fact Rome's influence is so broad that not a major town exists in Europe today that doesn't include the trappings of a Roman wall, aqueduct and amphitheater. The Barbarians on the other hand built few lasting structures.
Seth J. Frantzman
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