- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 9, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1405198338
- ISBN-13: 978-1405198332
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Byzantines 1st Edition
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"The Byzantines is a welcome addition to the renewal of Byzantine Studies in contemporary academia." (Canadian Journal of History, winter 2009)
Winner of the 2006 John D. Criticos Prize
"Seeks consistently to place Byzantium in Context and to make the reader question fundamental preconceptions about the Byzantine empire." (Anglo-Hellenic Review)
Winner of the 2006 John D. Criticos Prize
"Averil Cameron’s The Byzantines marks a welcome departure from most previous attempts to portray and characterize Byzantine civilization. The book focuses squarely on the people of the Byzantine Empire, their views of themselves and their culture, and how these changed over time. The result is a remarkably clear view of who the Byzantines were, and the book will contribute significantly to a restoration of Byzantium to its rightful place at the center of the historical tradition of Europe."
—Timothy Gregory, Ohio State University
Top customer reviews
However, Cameron only barely begins to get past what the Byzantines are not to get deeply into what they, at different periods and in different contexts, are. In part because of length limitations, Cameron regularly finds herself wandering back and forth across over 1000 years to have relatively superficial discussions about "Byzantine Art" or "Byzantine Literary Culture". We get only a very brief and summary look at the remarkably different experiences and accomplishments of, for example, Anatolia and Syria during the Muslim conquests, Dalmatia during the years when it was caught between Venice and Constantinople, Justinian's Italian and Andalusian territories, or the growth of the national churchs in Bulgaria and Serbia. Cameroon's analysis of the Byzantines also focuses rather heavily on the Greek language culture, and less on the Syriac, Slavic, Turkic and other strains of the empire and its people, and their influence on the Greek core. It may have been more useful to tackle some of the historical problems through a series of vignettes of discrete periods or people (much in the way Maria Rosa Menocal, for example, tackles a similar problem in her marvelous many-century survey of medieval Andalusia, the The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain).
This book is a nifty little introduction for someone who is looking for an introduction, with a number of well-thought out points. It also does a good job of introducing the reader to a wide range of debates about and important texts discussing Byzantine history. However, the book is also a woefully incomplete beginning to a larger project. I am glad I read the Byzantines, and will recommend it happily to others and look for something else, something longer and more focused, by Cameron to read. For example, her book on Procopius, the historian, functionary, and soldier ( Procopius and the Sixth Century), looks mighty interesting.
LATER NOTE: This book has sat in a readily accessible place for some time while I planned for and after I returned from a trip to Greece, and I've continued to mine through it and read more, and have found that it is remarkably fertile territory as an overview. While she doesn't have space to really dig deeply, she does include a remarkable amount of fairly interesting and provocative "food for thought" in here. Boy, I would love it if she could add another few hundred pages.
While this is primarily an introductory work, more advanced students may find it useful as a handbook for referencing current opinions on a wide variety of topics. It's cheap, it's an easy read and reflects current trends in Byzantine scholarship and discusses many of the issues presented to students who are trying to understand exactly what Byzantium was. Highly recommended.