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History of the Goths Paperback – February 13, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 580 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (February 13, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520069838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520069831
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Herwig Wolfram's book represents the culmination of his scholarly work in this field and synthesizes the archaeological and historical research of several generations of scholars. Every serious student of the ancient, as well as the medieval, world should have a copy. Future textbooks on the period will have to take account of its contents. . . . An extremely important book." -- Robert K. Sherk, History

"This book provides a thoroughgoing revision of our knowledge of the German invasions." -- Michel Rouche, Francia

"Through a fresh examination and reassessment of the Latin and Greek sources, Wolfram provides a wealth of detail on the formation of the Gothic tribes, their migrations, and the later history of the Ostrogothic and Visigothic settlements. . . . There are original and provocative ideas and conclusions presented here . . . and it is safe to say that neither the Goths, nor their historians, will ever be the same." -- Everett Crosby, The Virginia Quarterly

"Wolfram's study is indispensable." -- B. S. Bachrach, Choice

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

William Morris portrayed them as wonderful examples of folk-solidarity against the corruption and imperialism of Rome.
Ian M. Slater
The book provides an overview of the people and events, and includes some genealogy charts, an extensive set of notes, a bibliography and an index.
Fred Camfield
Wolfram seems fearful of drawing conclusions in this book, as if hypothesis or informed opinion might make him seem an irresponsible historian.
Konrei

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael Martinez on December 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wolfram takes on a difficult subject, the history of a people whose origins are crusted over with legends and generations of archaeological interpretations. Some of his conclusions have been challenged but Wolfram makes a solid case for many of his interpretations. His survey of Gothic history and culture is a landmark in Gothic research.
The book is intended for academics and therefore includes numerous citations and end-notes and footnotes. If the reader can ignore all the note references, the narrative flows well enough. Wolfram's detailed analysis does dispell a few nationalistic myths, but he replaces them with a thorough retelling of Gothic history. Most reference works about ancient Germanic peoples tend to speak of the Goths in an offhand manner. But they left a lasting imprint on several parts of Europe and Asia, even if we can no longer feel their presence today. Wolfram does a good job of removing the Goths from legend and putting them back into history.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Understanding the Goths and their role in history used to be simple. On the one hand, you could go along with Alexander Pope in his "Essay on Criticism," and declare of the fall of Rome, "A second deluge learning thus o'errun, / And the monks finished what the Goths begun" (which is particularly pointed, given that Pope himself was a Catholic).

On the other hand, you could praise them. The reasons for favoring the Goths were somewhat diverse. For example, the Victorian socialist and poet (and designer and fantasy novelist, etc.) William Morris portrayed them as wonderful examples of folk-solidarity against the corruption and imperialism of Rome.

In Germany, at the same time, historians announced that they were convinced that the Goths demonstrated how the Germanic Race brought Freedom back into the world -- just like the Kaiser! (Leading Nietzsche to ask the difference between such a Conviction and an ordinary Lie. He also expressed relief that the ancient Germans, whose inferior blood had helped destroy the Roman Empire through intermarriage, were NOT ancestors of the modern Germans.)

In America, broad-minded scholars, brought up on the doctrine of Anglo-Saxon Liberty (and the Norman Yoke), rushed to recognize the continental Goths as honorary Anglo-Saxons, extending a privileged status to at least some Europeans.

All of these views (including Nietzsche's) depended on the assumption that the name Goth (and its variants) in ancient and early medieval texts always meant the same thing, and that the Ostrogoths and Visigoths were simply branches of the same original tribe -- "tribe" too being a term taken for granted (along with translating *gens* as *race*).
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40 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Konrei TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Herwig Wolfram's HISTORY OF THE GOTHS is probably the best one-volume survey volume, perhaps the only, available on the Gothic tribes. These tribes, the quintessential "barbarians" who sacked and then succeeded the Western Roman Empire, were an amalgam of Germanic and Slavic bloodlines, who ultimately ruled large sections of the former Empire, and most notably Iberia.
As Wolfram admits, "A Goth was anyone who said he was," and the book suffers from the same lack of focus. Although attempts are made to discuss the social structure, culture, and history, military and otherwise, of the Goths, the discussions are superficial, rambling, and without point, and leave the reader feeling inconclusive. Wolfram seems fearful of drawing conclusions in this book, as if hypothesis or informed opinion might make him seem an irresponsible historian.
Who, after all, were these people, and why did they ravage Europe, and why were they so, finally, inestimably incapable of sustaining their identity? The book begs answers.
In part, the fault may be the writing style, which is textbook dry and lacks any sense (or attempt) at vividness. Wolfram's Goths are museum pieces, not a living, breathing community of people.
The scholarship of this work is exhaustive and astounding. Over half the book is comprised of Author's Notes and Bibliography. Certainly, if the reader has an abiding interest in Gothic history, this is a wonderful sourcebook for other, primary, materials.
Reading much more like a dissertation than a popular work of history, HISTORY OF THE GOTHS is a tedious and boring read, unless, like the author, you find these vanished people compellingly fascinating.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mjw on November 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Wolfram's "The History of the Goths" is a work deserving of high praise. If you want a book to give you an insightful, well-researched, & thoughtful glance at the Goths, then this is the one you'd want. It explores popular "myths" about the Goths from the Romantic era until the early- to mid-twentieth century. From there, we dive into a deep Ocean of ancient & medieval history, the written sources, language, archaeology, & many intriguing theories about the Goths - such as the question of their origins & their homelands, traces of their oral literature found among written sources from Antiquity until the Middle Ages... & thoughtful interpretations of "conventional" history, before & after the "fall" of the Roman Empire.
The Goths are one of those peoples from whom legends were made; sadly through a process of historical fate, & grave misrepresentation, the Goths are all but forgotten to contemporary popular knowledge. This book tries successfully to understand the world & culture of an ancient people so important to European history. If one has an inquiring mind, this book is no difficult read at all, - & for this motivation, it's a worthwhile investment.
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