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Chronicles of the Barbarians: Firsthand Accounts of Pillage and Conquest, from the Ancient World to the Fall of Constantinople Hardcover – October 20, 1998


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Hardcover, October 20, 1998
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books / Random House; First Edition edition (October 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812930827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812930825
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,911,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"When a Scythian overthrows his first enemy," Herodotus tells us, "he drinks his blood; and presents the king with the heads of the enemies he has killed in battle; for if he brings a head, he shares the booty that they take, but not if he does not bring one. He skins it in the following manner...." Well, OK, perhaps we don't need to revisit that part of the classics just now. But if you have a hankering for ancient and early-medieval history, Chronicles of the Barbarians will take you straight to the source. Among the other Greek and Roman authors cited in this anthology are Livy, Polybius, Tacitus, and Julius Caesar; later sections provide eyewitness glimpses of Genghis Khan ("in the subjugation of his foes his rigour and severity had the taste of poison") and Tamerlane (who "loved bold and brave soldiers, by whose aid opened the locks of terror and tore in pieces men like lions and through them and their battles overturned the heights of mountains"). One caveat: Edward Gibbon's passages on the death of Alaric and the Vandal attack on Rome are very eloquent, but they are, properly speaking, out of place in a collection of firsthand reports. --Ron Hogan

From Library Journal

Novelist and anthologist McCullough brings together firsthand accounts of barbarian invaders from Herodotus (d. 424 B.C.E.) to the fall of Constantinople (1553) for general readers. Common fears color these accounts, which stretch across a millennium and a half and span two continents. Scythians, Huns, Vandals, Mongols, Turks?all were seen through the same lenses of fear, ignorance, and bias. The Irish were lazy, the Vandals treacherous, the Tartars relentless in vengeance. The Vikings "everyday wash their faces and heads in the dirtiest and filthiest fashion possible: a girl servant brings a great basin of water to her master; he washes his hands and his face and his hair; then he blows his nose and spits into the basin. When he has finished, the servant carries the basin to the next person. Each blows his nose, spits, and washes face and hair in it." History buffs will enjoy this attractive and lively anthology.?David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By SUPPORT THE ASPCA. on January 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Well Written, detailed, told with a little tongue in cheek empathy for the various peoples that were called barbarians. Yet,the author at times seems to ridicule the very authors he so often quotes. Since the barbarians did'nt choose to write their own histories, does not mean that their enemies who they attacked were lying in their descriptions." Indeed, numerous archaeological finds far often than not prove the Classical records to be true." Most scholars use to snicker at the very idea that the Amazons existed, they were proven wrong!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joseph K. Dittmer on February 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is awesome. There is nothing like getting history straight from the sources especially when that history is about peoples who were at best semi-literate. The sources used in this book are varied and impressive from Herodotus to Doukas with a lot of famous and not so famous guys in between. It is also interesting to learn what the "civilized" people thought of the "barbarians". Anyone interested in ancient or medieval history, and likes a few crazy barbarians this book is for you.
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By Apollo on June 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like it a lot. Looking at these ancient wars through the eyes of the people who were there is cool. No skewed post-modernist thought, just 'this is what I saw and why I think it matters" from someone who was there. Cool.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Snowshoe on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this book 'used' but arrived in perfect, like new condition. It was also delivered very quickly. Thanks.
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