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The Huns

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631214434
ISBN-10: 0631214437
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

The riveting history of the Huns is retold in this exceptional volume. From their first attacks on the Goths north of the Black Sea, to the collapse of their central European empire, the Huns campaigns are reconstructed from disparate & often fragmentary sources.

From the Back Cover

This is a history of the Huns in Europe from their first attacks on the Goths north of the Black Sea to the collapse of their central European empire after the death of the legendary Attila. In the only connected narrative account of the rise and fall of the Huns in English, Professor Thompson reconstructs their campaigns in detail from disparate and often fragmentary sources. In the process, there emerges a clear picture of their dramatic successes, and failures, against the non-Roman peoples of central and eastern Europe, and of their many invasions of the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire.

This dramatic narrative is punctuated by analytical chapters which chart the transformations wrought in Hunnic society by contact with the more developed world of the Roman Mediterranean. In these chapters, the author sets himself the task of explaining the sudden rise and equally sudden fall of the Huns in the fourth and fifth centuries. He finds his answer in the impact of Roman wealth upon the original social structures of the Huns.

The Huns includes an Afterword by Peter Heather, Lecturer in Early Medieval History at University College London, which sets Professor Thompson's book in the broad context of recent studies on the Huns.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (May 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631214437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631214434
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #825,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The book fits fairly well into the scope of the series-the peoples of Europe. However the people considered here are basically of Asiatic origin hence one needs to consider the abundant Asiatic sources for further gleanings about the Huns. The primary faults are the inability of the author to use the Asiatic information sources and a highly biased view regarding the material civilization of the Huns. For example, he takes it for granted that the Huns never minted their own coins but, there is ample evidence from the regions in and around India which were under Hun occupation that they indeed did mint coins. The book however does give an excellent view of the Hun world as seen by Priscus. This is possibly one of the main reasons why it would be a fairly good possession for a student of Central Asia. The book also goes on to analyze Attila in detail and probably the author is right in pointing out that Attila was a general of far less magnitude than Chingiz Khan. However, Attila was not the absolute luck rider as the author makes it appear. He was definitely capable of considerable organizational abilities especially given that his nomads were fair less disciplined than those of Chingiz. In any case I would strongly recomend the book for an Eurocentric enthusiast and would hope that in future a far more detailed analysis of these much feared Central Asian peoples does emerge
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kirialax on December 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
E.A Thompson's book entitled "A History of Attila and the Huns" was first published in 1948. This is a slightly revised version of that same book, with a different title to make it fit into Wiley-Blackwell's "People of Europe" series. Given the original title, the reign of the Attila is the bulk of this book. While I would consider this to be a limitation, it is hardly one that I can fault Thompson for, given the paucity of source material on the Huns around that period. The books starts off with a discussion of those sources, and this is to Thompson's credit, as far too many history books fail to give a discussion of the relevant source material before diving into it. He analyzes the main literary sources and discusses the limitations of archaeological evidence, although in the afterward, Peter Heather suggests that the archaeological understanding of the Huns has advanced since Thompson's day.

Thompson takes the reader through a journey of the obscure early days of the Huns, of which very little is known. It is good that he includes some excellent maps to illustrate their early movements, as I suspect most readers will not be familiar with many of the geographical features of Eastern Europe mentioned. The focus from this point on is the relationship between the Huns and the Roman Empire. With careful analysis, Thompson details the events that led up to the rise of Attila, his wars with Rome, the embassy that Priskos participated in, and his eventual fall. The book ends with an afterward by Peter Heather, one of the most renowned historians on the barbarians of the later Roman Empire, which provides a nice supplement.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a good book, but doesn't adequately address the point that many Chinese and Western scholars have brought up in recent years--that evidence suggests that they were a multi-ethnic tribal confederation with just a Turkish speaking elite. Also, they may not be the same people that the Chinese sources refer to as the Hsiung-nu, as many scholars have assumed. The first reviewer is wrong because the "Huns" have not been properly matched with a tribe in Asian records--therefore when using Chinese sources you cannot be sure that you are talking about the same group. Likely they were Turkish or Mongolian mounted warriors who picked up Samartians, Germans and Alans along the way to the Roman Empire.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Sohl on March 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm sure this is a fine book. On this page, I read a review (now deleted, apparently) that mentioned the book by Otto J. Maenchen Helfen titled "the World of the Huns", now sadly out of print. I ordered my copy from amazon marketplace, and found it probably the ultimate book on this subject ever. Any hunophile will find Helfen's book absolutely essential as he was the world's greatest living authority on the huns bar none. He never finished the book for fear of new discoveries outdating it, so upon his death, his colleagues put it together out of his notes and drafts. I apologize for this not really being a review of Professor Thompson's book, but I thought it necessary for people looking for info on the huns to know about Helfen's work also. If you can find a copy, snap it up. Chapters deal with agriculture, lassos, trade, cauldrons, amulets, turkic names, coins, relations with Goths, and many, many other things, that is just a drop in the bucket.
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