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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1 Paperback – August 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1232 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140433937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140433937
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Edward Gibbon was born in 1737 in Putney, England, and was the only child of his parents to survive infancy. Although his education was frequently interrupted by ill health, his knowledge was far-reaching. His brief career as an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, ended when he joined the Catholic Church. His father sent him to Lausanne, in Switzerland, where, while studying Greek and French for the next five years, he re-joined the Protestant Church. In 1761 he published his Essai sur l'étude de la Littérature; the English version appeared in 1764. Meanwhile, Gibbon served as a captain in the Hampshire Militia until 1763, when he returned to the Continent. It was while he was in Rome in 1764 that he first conceived the work that was eventually to become The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

In 1774, after the death of his father, Gibbon settled in London and was elected to Parliament where he sat for the next eight years, although he never once spoke in the Commons. He also took his place among the literary circles of London. The first volume of his famous History was published in 1776; it was highly praised for its learning and style but incurred some censure for its treatment of the early Christians. The second and third volumes appeared in 1781 and the final three, which were written in Lausanne, in 1788. He died while on a visit to his friend, Lord Sheffield, who posthumously edited Gibbon's autobiographical papers and published them in 1796.


David Womersley teaches at Jesus College, Oxford, and edited Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for Penguin Classics.


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Customer Reviews

I think any serious student of history should read it.
bill
If not, then it would probably be best to drop the book and go on to something else...each of us is quite different you know.
D. Blankenship
I will not buy another book on kindle if it has footnotes.
Joy Battles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

243 of 250 people found the following review helpful By Drake-by-the-Lake on June 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I do not recommend buying an edition of "The Decline and Fall" based upon price alone, because for many reasons, which will become clearer to you after reading this complicated and scholarly work, the editions vary in content and price, nor does price alone guarantee quality.

For many hours prior to purchasing, I researched the numerous editions offered by different publishers and read reviews, and discovered a consensus among Gibbon fans in favor of Womersley's unabridged edition, in part because it includes a complete and unmodernized text, Gibbon's own comments and notes, and his famous Vindication, a final and thorough answer to scurrilous critics of his time. All of this is provided at a quite reasonable price, considering the length of the work (in excess of 1,300 pages), albeit in soft cover which I find makes a book easier to read, if slightly less durable.

I recommend buying this new edition from Amazon, instead of the used editions also offered here, because many of them, I discovered after investigating, are not the same as this one I am reviewing (ISBN 0-14-043393-7, which is Volume I). Like I said, there are many editions of Gibbon's masterpiece floating about, old and new, of varying quality and content. The vendors' failure to disclose the ISBN in their descriptions prohibits any purchase by the discriminating. Just pay the seventeen or so bucks for the new book, which is dirt cheap for a work of this magnitude.

There should be no need to defend Gibbon nor his work, which is simply the best I have yet read. I loved history as a boy, even while reading the simple and often stupid books offered in school.
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101 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Slioch on August 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Found in a letter dated February 13 1844 from my great-great-great-uncle George Mackenzie in India to his sister Alice in Scotland: "Have you ever read Gibbon's Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire? I am very fond of it for many reasons. It is a grand book and to read it always makes me feel as if my life extended thousands instead of tens of years and as if I could trace out the revolutions of Empires. It is beautifully written and the English of it is to my taste particularly elegant, and except where Gibbon's judgement was obscured by his prejudice, it is true as history can be. His reasonings from the great events which he relates are generally speaking very true and I have heard that there is hardly a better guide for a politician than that history. What an immensely long duration the time of it is - from the year 90 after Christ till the year 1490 or thereabouts in fact almost down to our own times. It is a great ornament to my bookcase and I often read it & prefer it to any novel whatsoever." So the 5 stars are on behalf of Uncle George who sadly died later in 1844 aged 25.
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97 of 105 people found the following review helpful By hokuros on January 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This "publisher's" supposed "commitment to the preservation of printed works"--which in the present case involves issuing a photographic reproduction of an 1845(?) edition of a work in the public domain-- would appear to be nothing more than a money-making gimmick. Envision a text whose early sections are marred by frequent underlining, which is then poorly scanned. Add the unforgiveable fact that not just any pages are entirely missing, but very key pages, and you'll have an idea what this volume offers. Appalling that Amazon or any "reputable" bookseller would offer such trash. Do yourself a favor an look at other editions!
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Format: Paperback
Well, after more than a year of off and on reading I finally finished the first volume of Gibbon's vast chronicle and only have five massive books to go. All in all it has been a wonderful journey, tedious at times, but wonderful! This first volume was first published in 1776 and now, after over 200 years still stands as one of the great pillars in the cannon of Western Literature and of course is still a framework used by historians even to this day.

There are of course three aspects of this work that need to be considered. The first of course is the history. Gibbon is considered by many as the first modern historian. He broke new ground (more about that later), and gives us a very good view of the Roman Empire as seen through the eyes of a man of his time. Secondly, this is most certainly a literary work of no mean quality. It is actually an absolute gem; a work of art is words. Third, there is the history of the history; the placing of Gibbons work as a historical event within itself, which is sometimes overlooked.

Now shear volumes have been written concerning this early study of the Roman culture, both critical and laudatory. I have great doubts that anything I say here will add to this mound of observations which have been gathering since the ink dried on the first printing of the work. I can only give you, the reader, my personal perspectives; keeping in mind that I am not in anyway a historian, theologian nor literary master. No, I am just a common `good old boy,' living in the hills that likes to read, loves history and enjoys a reading challenge.
I have a bound set of these books on my bookshelf and I must admit that they sat there for a couple of years.
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