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The End of the Roman Empire: Decline or Transformation? 3rd Edition (Problems in European Civilization) Paperback – April, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: D.C. Heath and Company; 3rd edition (April 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0669215201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0669215205
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,829,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Graczewski VINE VOICE on July 6, 2011
Every so often I pick a general topic I want to better educate myself about. This year, I've focused on explaining the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, a timeless debate that never seems to lose its relevance, literally argued, refuted, and refined continuously from the time of the Declaration of Independence to the present day.

I picked up this compendium edited by Donald Kagan primarily because I have so much respect for the Yale historian I had faith that anything he put together would be worthwhile. My instincts were correct. This is an amazing volume that collects and classifies the main explanations for collapse of Rome by some of the leading historians of the past several centuries. It is a graduate level seminar in less than 200 pages.

What I found really helpful was Kagan's use of a simple metaphor as a framework for understanding the competing theories. He notes that the one indisputable fact about Rome is that it fell. And much like a corpse that is wheeled into the county morgue, it is up to the historians, acting as the medical examiner, to determine the time and method of death. Kagan notes that while even the time of death is a matter of dispute, the arguments over the cause of death are more varied and challenging. In short, Kagan says that there are four basic explanations: 1) accidental death; 2) natural causes; 3) murder; and 4) suicide. In my opinion, a few of the theories fall on the line between explanations, such as distinguishing between "natural causes" and "suicide," but overall the analogy is both accurate and constructive.

Kagan writes that only one distinguished scholar really argues for accidental death, the Irish historian J.B.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Lloyd-Jones on November 1, 2012
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Kagan's book is a collection of essays questioning whether Rome declined or transformed. Rostovtzeff, Walbank, and Jones discussed the problem of decline and fall. Bury and Gibbon argued for natural decline. Rostovtzef, Walbank, Salvian, and de Ste. Croix did social analyses on the empire. Grant, St. Augustine, and MacMullen said disharmony and disunity caused Rome's fall. Jones, Marcellinus, and Baynes argued that ultimately the barbarians brought an end to the western empire. Luttwak and Ferrill claimed military problems led to Rome's decline. The final essays by Brown, MacMullen, and Ferrill discussed whether Rome declined, transformed, or fell. The book also included a map of the empire and a chronology of events from 4 B.C. to A.D. 395.

I was impressed by the collective essays in Kagan's book because they came from the best authorities, both ancient and modern, on Roman history. The book gave an excellent overview of opinions ranging from military explanations to barbarian invasions. The essays were concise and easy to read, and the chronological table helped pinpoint the events discussed in each essay. I will definitely keep this book and use it for my final paper.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miguel Angel on May 2, 2013
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It's a good book for the Reader that is not too familiar with the Fall of Rome.
It offer different ideas and explanations for the decline; it also include the point of view of other authors and explain them to us.

Pretty concise, to the point and the author stays as objective as he cans while giving his personal opinion without diminishing others.

A good book to get familiar with the topic but definitely not an advanced or in depth research.

I used it for my school research but only to get familiar enough so I could read more advanced books.
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