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Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World Paperback – July 31, 2007
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In a sense, the Eastern Empire was a buffer for the West. Without it, invasions from the east would likely have been more frequent and more consequential and the tide of Islam could well have entered Europe from the east as well as from the south.
The political narrative of the Empire is one full of tragedy and missed opportunities. The inability of the structure of its government to provide for peaceful, orderly succession (a common problem with several types of governments, including monarchies) and the amount of power held by the noble families meant that there was a great deal of political instability inherent in the Byzantine political system. This was increased by the importance of religion to the Byzantine civilization and the consequent destabilizing power of doctrinal wrangles (something almost inevitable with an orthodoctic religion).Read more ›
The subtitle "How a Lost Empire Shaped the World" may be an audacious one, but it gives the reader a good idea of just how comprehensive this small-format book intends to be. Most histories of Byzantium focus on either the military dynamics which slowly strangled the empire until only Constantinople remained and then itself fell to the Ottomans, or on the religious schism with the papacy that has not yet been closed. Wells treats those subjects well with fresh insights. But military and the religious divide play supporting roles to his true focus: the scholarly life of Byzantium and how it was spread to Italy, to Islam, to the Balkan nations and cultures, and, most vitally, to the emergent Russian power.
The author divides the book into three parts. In the first he covers both the preservation by Byzantine scholars of the fundamental works of Greek civilization and then the wave of humanist teachers that brought this learning to early Renaissance Italy. In his second section, Wells treats what was actually an earlier but not so permanent development: how the Arabs absorbed Byzantine learning as they conquered and settled in what had been Byzantine territory.
In Part III, the asserted civilizing power of religion takes a more dominant role as the author treats the interactions with the various Slavic migrations. His claim in the Introduction is that "the Byzantines turned the ...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well researched new historical book on Byzantium and how the separation of East and West occurred.Published 1 month ago by K. N. Emsden
A very readable and interesting account of a complex but fascinating period. An excellent introduction for the general reader and a welcome summary for those more familiar with the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Rhondda
I listened to this book on audio CD, or at least I tried to. I concur with the other reviewers who find the lack of writing in anything remotely resembling chronological order make... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Deacon 85
This author has done meticulous research and his writing style almost make this a 'page turner.' During my undergrad years the history of the Byzantine Empire was glossed over or... Read morePublished 10 months ago by J. Hayter
Mr. Wells is an excellent writer and this book is a pleasure to read. Much research went into this fascinating subject. We all owe Byzantium a big vote of thanks. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jacqueline Davidson
This book is full of useful and interesting facts. Yet, it is at the same time annoyingly blinkered by the author's own modern prejudices. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Enough
Excellent account of a history not well known but highly important. The greatest achievements of the Christian work remain submerged under Islamic domination.Published 22 months ago by John Haretos
Bizantine legacy still lives among us, from East to West their heritage is in the bedrock of the modern world.Published 23 months ago by Federico Garcia
A knowledge-expanding experience, not easy but doable. This copy is for the second of two close friends that I have had the presumption to give to them as worthwhile reading.Published 23 months ago by Jacqueline Oler