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The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians
The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians
by Peter Heather
Edition: Hardcover
59 used & new from $6.00

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rome was too much like we are today!?!, March 17, 2006
The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, by Peter Heather

This new book by a professor at Worcester College, University of Oxford is a true gem among books covering historical subject matter. The past when covered by most books attempting to educate the reader on historical subject matter covering several hundred years often results in text book like reading without the inspirational individual efforts of the everyday citizen being included or explained.

In this case I am happy to report that not only are many individual citizens brought to life through recovered letters and such, but many connecting aspects of interpersonal rivalries and ambitions supported by empirical evidence are interspaced with the big picture events surrounding those people and their lives. This book makes the reader more aware of the issues and subject matter from the view of the small group or individual than any other book on Rome which I am familiar with. The writing is also easy to follow for the average reader who is not a scholar.

If you are interested in finding out just how similar our world events today are to ancient Rome and the issues they faced, read this book! Rome faced many of the same issue as we see today. Examples of these issues include inflation of coinage by deflating the value of the raw metal content in the coins, gorilla warfare on its boarders, political intrigue through spies by rival super powers, citizens who were forced to deal with changing events rapidly if they wanted to start a business or venture into government work, among many other examples.

Heather argues, in my opinion very successfully that it was the barbarians who brought down the Empire rather than any social or moral collapse. However the real value of this book is for the average reader to dive into something, which reads like a fiction narrative trying to persuade the reader to a point of view. In my opinion it succeeds. However, the average reader can learn so much on this subject matter without subjecting themselves to the many long and boring textbooks, which are so abundant for any topic related to Rome and its downfall.

At 459 pages just for the story and persuasive argument for his theme Heather adds a timeline and other sources as well, making the total page count 572. In my experience this book reads like a page turner and should engage any history buff as well as those who shun history for its boring nature or lack of inspired stories to engage in and root for. The characters that Heather has pass in and out of Rome's history in this detailed book seem real and alive.

Books on Rome are abundant, but few engage the average reader in a way that compels and engages the imagination while failing to debase the story in the usual folly of solely telling everything from the view of the top person looking down on the minions. Rome had entrepreneurs and businessmen between the gladiators and slaves and emperors. Who knew that so many parallels to our modern western civilization would be seen through one book? Read this book for the entertainment as well as the educational value relating to a civilization, which still reaches forward in time to spread its influence on today's world events.

Whether you are interested in the development of the Germanic peoples influencing Rome and how they continue to influence us up to today or your interests lie with an early cult of Judaism as it emerged from a leadership dominated by martyrs to become the dominant religion of the empire despite its founder being publicly executed by the same empire, this book will put into perspective all of the issues of that time period in a way that is engaging and relevant to digest for the modern westerner.

This book was fun, entertaining and engaging. I highly recommend it.


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