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The Making of Byzantium, 600-1025 Paperback – August 5, 1996

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520204973 ISBN-10: 0520204972

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"An excellent book. Its originality lies in its broad geographical perspective, the extensive treatment of neighboring countries . . . and the emphasis on archaeological evidence."—Cyril Mango, Exeter College, Oxford

From the Back Cover

"An excellent book. Its originality lies in its broad geographical perspective, the extensive treatment of neighboring countries . . . and the emphasis on archaeological evidence." (Cyril Mango, Exeter College, Oxford) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (August 5, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520204972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520204973
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael Healy on March 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
An excellent book for someone who wants to gain an understanding of the Empire and what drove it. The author makes a genuine attempt to help the reader to set aside the biases and prejudices of our age and to see things from a Byzantine perspective. He also calls into question certain myths that are repeated all too frequently in histories of the Empire -- such as the legend that Emperor Basil II blinded 14,000 Bulgarian prisoners. There is no contemporary evidence for this, yet the tale continues to be told. Also, as noted in the other review, Whittow calls into question standard views on the size and organization of the Empire's military resources. I'm not fully convinced by his arguments, but they cannot be ignored. Above all, though, this book is valuable for the attention it gives to parts of the Medieval world that are all too often ignored or forgotten, like Armenia and the Georgia in the Transcaucasus or the Khazars in the steppes of what is now southern Russia. The attentive reader will go away with a much fuller and clearer knowledge of the Early Middle Ages.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Scott J. Hieger on December 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Whittow makes the reader re-examine widely held beliefs on the structure and history of the Byzantine Empire. His views on the lack of success of the military structure of the Empire as well as the basic size and financing of the government caused me to completely rethink my impressions of the Empire. I haven't heard of much discussion concerning his views, however, I believe this book will dramatically alter the perceptions of the Byzantine Empire and will cause scholars to rethink their beliefs. Excellent!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kirialax on July 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a wide-sweeping narrative and thematic survey of middle Byzantine history. Whittow does an excellent job both briefly sketching out the story of what happened and supporting it with a great deal of solid analysis. While the narrative is sufficient, one should not look to this book if imperial politics and war is merely what one wants to read about. Although badly dated and lacking serious analysis, John Julius Norwich's trilogy still fills that gap rather well. The strength of this book is how Whittow manages to hit so many themes in so few pages and yet do the vast majority of them justice. As the title suggests, the major current that runs through this work is the changes to state, society and worldviews from the time of the end of the era of Justinian and his immediate successors to the beginning of the end for the Macedonian dynasty. Whittow deals with the rise of Islam and how the Byzantines attempted to deal with that challenge imperially, intellectually, and religiously. This is all tied in closely to the changes that took place in the economy with the decline of cities at the end of antiquity. As an archaeologist, Whittow can certainly (and rightly, I would argue) be accused to placing too little emphasis on literary materials at times, and especially in arguments where he deals with questions like the end of ancient cities, but all the same it remains an extremely refreshing view of the Byzantine world. He spends a good portion of page space on geography, and this goes a long to establishing Byzantium in its physical context, something that he is keen to do as an archaeologist and something that more textual historians should do.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JPS on March 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
First posted on Amazon.co.uk on 23 January 2012

This book is NOT a history of the Byzantine Empire, because it does not cover the whole period. It does not include the three first centuries, when the Empire was still the Eastern Roman Empire and only starts around 600, withy the end of so-called Late Antiquity, as the "Old Order" (to use the author's expression) is about to fall. It also stops in 1025, with the death of Basile II, often (and partly misleadingly) presented as one of the greatest soldier-emperors.

Whay this book is mainly about is, to quote another of its chapters, "how the Roman Empire survived" the Slavic and Avar invasions in the Balkans, the Lombards in Italy and, above all, the relentless Arab onslaughts during the 7th and early 8th century, followed by another two centuries of constant raiding in Asia Minor.

Another merit of this book is to present at the outset in a chapter on the strategic geography of the Near East the huge challenges that the Empire's defense raised and the implications this had: being obliged to fight wars on two fronts (or more) was generally above the Empire's capabilities so that either one of the fronts had to be sacrified, at least temporarily or Byzantium's diplomacy had to make sure this didn't happen. The ways and means used to ensure this are one of the main themes running across the whole book.

Finally, perhaps the main quality of this work is its attempt to be realistic. For instance, the "Age of Reconquest", that is the period during which a resilient Empire reconquered some of the territories it had lost centuries ago, is presented with all its limits. More than the Emperor's own policy, it was that of the military aristocracy of landlords in Asia Minor, and raised considerable problems.
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