- Paperback: 1312 pages
- Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library edition (August 12, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375758119
- ISBN-13: 978-0375758119
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Modern Library Classics) Modern Library Edition
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“[Gibbon] stood on the summit of the Renaissance achievement and looked back over the waste of history to ancient Rome, as from one mountain top to another.”—Christopher Dawson
From the Inside Flap
Gibbons masterpiece, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second century a.d. to its collapse in the west in the fifth century and in the east in the fifteenth century, is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written. This abridgment retains the full scope of the original, but in a compass equivalent to a long novel. Casual readers now have access to the full sweep of Gibbons narrative, while instructors and students have a volume that can be read in a single term. This unique edition emphasizes elements ignored in all other abridgmentsin particular the role of religion in the empire and the rise of Islam.
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David Womersly's abridgment of his 3 vol. 1990s ed. in Penguin provides eleven complete chapters and footnotes. Hans-Friedrich Mueller's 2003 abridges the Modern Library 1987 ed. Mueller assures us in his preface that the whole work still should be read and consulted. He admits in his task a different emphasis than, say, Milman. Keeping in the religious, political and institutional concentrations, he excises 2/3: battle details, genealogies, ethnologies, and footnotes. Mueller avers this fits contemporary concerns and aligns with relevant issues. On the Kindle, it's handsomely legible.
Daniel Boorstin's original introduction remains, preceding a critical essay by Mueller and Gibbon's preface. The maps are small, as they were copied from the paperback ed. What remains are parts of every chapter. Mueller indicates where cuts or excisions occur so one may consult the full text. He does provide parts of all 72 chapters for a "continuous narrative." The complete Womersly set sits on my shelf. But I chose this condensed ed. for the ability to take notes and highlight passages, which I wouldn't do in my tomes. And for road trips.
On the one hand, we have every abominable act, every imaginable vice, every imprudent lunacy able to be committed by man here recorded. After all, this was written by a man who considered history "little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind." Imagine an alien race picking up the capsule and deciphering our language. Imagine the looks on their faces (if they have faces) when they hear of the grotesque bunch of bipeds on the other side of the galaxy who do nothing but rape, pillage, and kill each other. Imagine this happens after our sun explodes or we blow ourselves up; this is the last utterance of an extinguished species. Would we want it to be this? Why not Don Quixote or the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
On the other hand, intimately connected with this narrative of wickedness and stupidity, inextricably intertwined in the fabric of the narrative, is the genius of its author. Who could read a single page of this great book and not be humbled by the quality of his thought, the care of his method, the power of his prose? If ever there was a document that singlehandedly redeems all of the idiocy our race insistently indulges in, it's this book. At least the aliens would know that one of us had a good head on our shoulders.
It is impossible to discuss this work without its author. In perusing The Decline and Fall we find innumerable facets of Gibbon: the philosopher, the poet, the politician, the theologian, the strategist, the humanist, the public servant, the yellow journalist, the sage, (and the historian). But what we find, most of all, is Gibbon the lover of life. No man has ever loved more the variegated tapestry of human affairs--from the daily ritual of a serf to the greatest battles ever waged, from the planning of a palace to the marital squabbles of a prince. He will cast a glance at events large and small, weigh the facts with a disinterested hand, and with a knowing nod and amiable wink he will describe them in his inimitable prose. Gibbon views life like well-aged wine; he will take it in sips and draughts, savoring every strain in the flavor--from the musky, rotten odor to the sweet, honeyed tinge--and then discuss it with you at length. He is a connoisseur of life, won't you join him for a drink?
Anybody who doesn't understand why genocide happens will find the answer here... It's part of who we are, always has, and always will be.
Gibbon didn't even have a dictionary when he wrote this and he can create images in the mind of the reader! Gibbon is like a magic mushroom, but legal.
Many reviewers keep talking about Gibbon's claim that it was Christianity that weakened the empire. This is only partly true. Gibbon spends much time talking psychology, power politics, general weakening of a decadent people and many other piercing insights into the general idiocy and brutality of the times.
Words can't describe the genius of Edward Gibbon.
and a big gap between the wealthy and the masses.