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The Oxford History of Byzantium Hardcover – December 5, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0198140986 ISBN-10: 0198140983

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198140983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198140986
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 1.3 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #446,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Byzantine Empire receives a wide-ranging but unfocused treatment in this volume of essays by U.S. and U.K. academic historians. Several chapters provide a comprehensive if somewhat rushed chronicle of the empire, from the founding of Constantinople to its conquest by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Others discuss aspects of Byzantine Christianity, social life and literature, while Byzantine art and architecture are abundantly represented in the many photos and full-color plates of castles, monasteries, mosaics and icons. Individual essays are intelligent and clearly written, but also somewhat dry and noncommittal; while broadly representative of contemporary scholarship, they do not quite add up to a compelling portrait of Byzantine civilization. Writers complain of the paucity and unreliability of Byzantine sources, and sometimes shy away from decisive historical interpretations. Political history chapters, which focus on the deeds of the emperors and the relatives, generals and miscellaneous usurpers who were forever overthrowing them, are a welter of conspiracies, rebellions, blindings and revenge blindings that can only be described as, well, Byzantine. And in a narrative crammed with battles and campaigns, there is little in-depth discussion of the Byzantine military as an institution and a fighting force-a curious oversight for a study of an empire that was often fighting for its life. Color and b&w photos and illustrations throughout.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Editor Mango, professor of Byzantine and modern Greek language and literature at Oxford from 1973 to 1995, has assembled many of the world's leading scholars of Byzantine studies to contribute essays for this ambitious volume, which can best be described as a narrative history by diverse hands. The subject is enormous, and these essays attempt to illuminate the course of Byzantine history and focus on key political and cultural issues in under 400 pages. This is a remarkable achievement, considering that Byzantine civilization endured over 1100 years. In his excellent itntroduction, Mango addresses the question of when Byzantium, as a distinct political and cultural identity, came into being. He sees it evolving, like medieval Europe, out of the period we call Late Antiquity, which spans the reorganization of Roman government in the late third century to the collapse of urban life outside of Constantinople owing to the almost chronic warfare of the seventh century. Out of the ruins of the classical world, medieval Europe and Byzantium emerged as distinct civilizations. With over 150 illustrations, this work offers a wider spectrum of viewpoints than the Byzantine histories of John Norwich or Warren Treadgold. Highly recommended not only for scholars and students of Byzantium but also for general interested readers.
Robert J. Andrews, Duluth
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan E. Gawne on October 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The other reviewers here seem to be missing the point. Oxford has a very large text covering this period in great detail...this book is not meant to cover everything in depth...that is the job of the other text. This book is designed to INTRODUCE readers to Byzantium, no go into great depth, hence its shortness. It is an OVERVIEW not a compilation of all of our knowledge of Byzantium. As an OVERVIEW it does an acceptable job at covering the materials. It has its shortcommings, but is an alright text.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In spite of Byzantium finally getting its fair share of attention among historians over the last century, good single-volume introductions to the empire are few. John Julian Norwich's [[ASIN: A Short History of Byzantium]], an abridgement of his massive popular work in three tomes, is one option. But I was happy to come across THE OXFORD HISTORY OF BYZANTIUM and would recommend this as a good introduction. Each chapter of the OXFORD HISTORY was written by a different scholar, adding some variety to the book and hinting at issues considered contentious among historians. The book is also lavishly illustrated, and being able to see the architectural, urban planning, or artistic achievements of Byzantium gives one a better idea of what made Byzantium special. But what really sets the OXFORD HISTORY apart from Norwich's book is that it isn't formed as a mere dry chronology of rulers. The chapters covering straight-up chronology are four: "The Eastern Empiere from Constantine to Heraclius (306-641)", "The Struggle for Survival (641-780)", "The Medieval Empire (780-1204)", and "Fragmentation (1204-1453)". In between these, there are chapters dedicated to literary achievements, the life of the average man, and other matters that Norwich didn't treat adequately.

The book is not perfect. A number of authors here love pointlessly knocking Orthodox Christianity, curious when Orthodox readers form such a large market for Byzantium items. Also, there is no discussion of the life of women in the empire, which would be interesting to contemporary readers.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Moses Alexander on January 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While one certainly can't expect the history of Byzantium to be dealt with exhaustively in a 300+ page book, this book falls seriously short of Oxford University Press's typically high standard. 12 contributors' work make up this compilation of articles on the history of Byzantium. Most of the articles seem rushed and many are tedious to read (this coming from someone fascinated by the subject.) Additionally, many of the authors write in a condescending tone. There isn't a footnote or endnote to be found, although there is a chapter by chapter bibliography. I would seriously consider looking elsewhere for books on the subject, especially considering the price.
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28 of 39 people found the following review helpful By David Lawson on March 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book last Xmas at Foyles and brought it back to the states when I finally got the chance to read it. I frankly was very disappointed with it. The illustrations were fairly good but the text was not up to the usual standards of Oxford. Go to Norwich and you will be much better off !
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James A. Haluska, Jr. on August 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Oxford History Series is usually well done, with two exceptions, this book and the volume on the Crusades. Both are woefully short for their subject matter and just does not cover the subject in the depth that one is used to in other volumes of the series. I am highly disappointed in Oxford for this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TransLorentz on February 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not for the scholar, but can and ought to be read by any person with even the slightest interest in the mediaeval histories of Europe, the Church and the evolution of the relationship between church and state. Certainly the refreshing yet accessible perspectives presented in this volume do much to make Byzantium (with its one thousand years of unchecked caricature, associations and stereotypes) seem more like a real place with real people.
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