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Byzantium: An Illustrated History Paperback – December 18, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Hippocrene Books (December 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0781810337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0781810333
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book fills the need for a capsule history of this neglected empire." --ForeWord, January, 2005

From the Inside Flap

Long after Rome fell to the Germanic tribes, its culture lived on in Constantinople, the glittering capital of the Byzantine Empire. For more than a thousand years (A.D. 330 to 1453), Byzantium was one of the most advanced and complex civilizations the world had ever seen. Born in the Classical era, it flourished in the Middle Ages and contributed to the flowering of the Renaissance.

As the Mediterranean outlet for the Silk Route, with trade networks stretching from Scandinavia to Sri Lanka, it served as a vital bridge between the Muslim East and the Catholic West. Its artists created somber icons and brilliant mosaics that inspired French kings and Arab emirs alike. Its priests and monks fostered the Orthodox Christianity that is the faith of millions today.

Byzantium: An Illustrated History offers more than 50 photographs and maps, a timeline, a chronology of emperors, and a guide to Byzantine sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the Middle East.


More About the Author

Sean McLachlan is a former archaeologist who has excavated in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Now a full-time writer, he specializes in history, travel, and fiction. He won the 2013 Society of American Travel Writers Award for his Iraq reportage.

Sean is busy working on three fiction series: Toxic World (post-apocalyptic science fiction), House Divided (Civil War horror), and the upcoming Trench Raiders action series set in World War One.

Half of Sean's time is spent on the road researching and writing. He's traveled to more than 30 countries, interviewing nomads in Somaliland, climbing to clifftop monasteries in Ethiopia, studying Crusader castles in Syria, and exploring caves in his favorite state of Missouri.

Sean is always happy to hear from his readers, so drop him a line via his blog!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Purdy on March 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be compelling as well as interesting, especially since the author spends enough time to highlight the more personal sides of the major characters of the Byzantine Empire. Knowing the dates and places may be important but understanding "why" the events took place is even more important in the continuing study of mankind. The author does a wonderful job of explaining the nuances of the men and women who have made the Byzantium Empire such a compelling study still today.

The only thing that could make this a better book is if there were more of it.

Jim Purdy - Tucson, Arizona, USA
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles R. Hogg on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am an avid follower of Byzantine history, and have just begun reading the book (hence my rating is tentative). I appreciate the level of language--it is not overly technical. Mr. McLachlan does a nice job at the outset of his description of the Arian problem, but here's where the problem comes in. On p. 18 he claims that "Constantine convinced the clergy to compromise. Christ and the Father, it was decreed, were 'of like substance,' a statement vague enough to be acceptable to both sides." This is factually wrong. The Council of Nicaea decreed that the Father and the Son were of the same substance (homoousios in Greek), not of like substance. This issue is important to me, because I'm looking for an introductory-level history of Byzantium that gets the theological aspects straight, so I can share it with others. I am hoping that this error proves to be the exception.

(And just a suggestion. I note that Mr. McLachlan's degree is in archaeology, and specializes in history and travel. It might be worth considering having someone theologically trained to review those portions of the book which deal with theological topics such as this, before it is printed or before it is re-issued.)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good, quick overview of what is sometimes a grindingly confusing story ("byzantine"?). Lots ofpictures, however, which is very good because the Byzantines were such great artists.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Florentius VINE VOICE on November 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book under the assumption that it would contain at least a few color plates-after all, it is billed as "An Illustrated History." But I should have "looked inside the book" first. The illustrations are all b&w and don't come close to doing justice to the glory of Byzantine mosaic and painting.

The text is similarly lackluster. While I sympathize with the author's dilemma of having to squeeze 1,100 years of history into a 240 page book, there is no excuse for bad writing and shoddy research. The prose is dreadfully stilted, as if the author has never heard of dependent clauses or compound sentences. Truly, the text could have been lifted verbatim from the Weekly Reader or some other elementary school-level periodical.

The errors scattered throughout the text are similarly unacceptable. A few examples will suffice: The author claims that the general Belisarius "did not restrain himself and looted towns and villages" during his invasion of Italy. This statement is simply false. While Naples was sacked as punishment for a long and unwarranted siege, the strict policy of Belisarius was to respect the rights of the Italians-even to the point where he forced one of his own generals to return some ill-gotten booty to an Italian citizen. This error is perhaps explained by the fact that the author only used the "Secret History" of Procopius as a primary source for this period, totally ignoring the 6 other books of public history written by this same ancient author. This is the equivalent of using only the National Enquirer Magazine to write a history of 21st century America.

Another error is the statement that the Second Ecumenical Council in 381 AD "established the patriarch of Constantinople as the highest Church official." It did no such thing.
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