From Library Journal
Much as H.D.F. Kitto condensed The Greeks (1988), Treadgold (history, St. Louis Univ.) here abridges his massive History of the Byzantine State and Society (LJ 9/1/97). The Byzantine Empire (285-1461) spanned three continents and demands a succinct overview, especially given its relevance to such diverse disciplines as modern Balkan politics and church history. The author's historiography depends greatly on quantifying change. In each chapter, he provides a narrative account of the events of a specific period followed by sections on the society and culture. These latter sections reflect the author's interest in the size and pay of the armies, the demographic variations of regions and cities, and such factors as urbanization or the lack thereof. He draws fascinating conclusions from the revenues and bureaucracies of the different eras. The excellent bibliography will give students a good start on research in any of the periods discussed. Recommended for all libraries. Clay Williams, Hunter Coll., New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Edward Gibbon regarded the Byzantine (or East Roman or Later Roman) Empire with disdain. It was both a pale imitation of classical Hellenic culture and a degenerate inheritor of Roman Latin political institutions. Although subsequent historians have modified that view, the general perception of a static empire in a state of "perpetual decline" remains. This compact survey of an empire that outlasted the Roman Empire in the West by a millennium may not dispel that notion, but it does pay tribute to the vibrancy, cultural richness, and historical legacy of the first great "Christian" empire. Treadgold necessarily moves quickly, but he convincingly illustrates how the Byzantine (1) transmitted elements of classical culture to disparate groups, including Slavs and Arabs, (2) were instrumental in bringing Christianity to eastern "barbarians," and (3) maintained a degree of stability in the eastern Mediterranean despite constant external threats. This is an excellent general history of a still underappreciated people and of their contributions to the modern world. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved