- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195159543
- ISBN-13: 978-0195159547
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.9 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 169 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Garth Brooks: The Anthology Part 1 | Limited Edition
A great gift for country music fans, The Anthology Part 1 includes CDs containing the music of Garth's first five years, and behind-the-scenes photographs and stories never before made public. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"A rich and dramatic synthesis of the latest research on Gibbon's old story....The drama of Mr. Heather's book lies not just in the world-changing story he has to tell, but in his behind-the-scenes view of how historians work. Like a master detective, Mr. Heather employs the most various techniques--everything from pollen sampling to archaeology to literary criticism--to wring the truth from the reticent past....What Mr. Heather offers is not easy analogies but a realization of the complex strangeness of the past--the achievement of a great historian."--Adam Kirsch, New York Sun
"Like a late Roman emperor, Heather is determined to impose order on a fabric that is always threatening to fragment and collapse into confusion; unlike most late Roman emperors, he succeeds triumphantly."--The Times of London
"Gibbon's 'awful revolution'--the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the West--still casts a pall. Yet, as Peter Heather's brilliant mixture of rapid flowing narrative and deeply thought analysis fully brings out, it still exerts a pull too. 'Lepcisgate', Alaric's Goths, and Attila's Huns are all thrown into Heather's melting pot along with Roman imperial aims and mismanagement. The outcome is a conclusion Heather finds pleasing--and Gibbon would not have despised--that Roman imperialism was ultimately responsible for its own demise."--Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge
"To a period that has often appeared as impenetrable as it is momentous, Peter Heather brings a rare combination of scholarship and flair for narrative. With this book, a powerful searchlight has been shone upon the shadow-dimmed end of Rome's western empire."--Tom Holland, author of Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic
"Deftly covering the necessary economic and political realities of decline and fall, Heather also presents the stories and the characters of this tumultuous epoch, in a colorful and enthralling narrative."--The Independent
"Masterful, lucid....Always rewarding."--ForeWord Magazine
‘A rare combination of scholarship and flair for narrative. With this book, a powerful searchlight has been shone upon the shadow-dimmed end of Rome’s western empire’ - Tom Holland
‘a brilliant mixture of rapid flowing narrative and deeply thought analysis ‘ - Paul Cartledge--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Heather begins by laying the groundwork for our understanding of the history and status of the Roman Empire, how it functioned and how it evolved, in other words, what Romanness was about. He also gives us a glimpse of the Barbarians who lived outside the boundaries of the Empire, in Central and Northern Europe and other locations. The great pressure points of the Roman Empire fell roughly along the Rhine and Danube Rivers and Persia to the East. Long before the great challenges during the Fourth and Fifth Centuries AD, Rome had faced the annihilation of three legions under Varus near the Teotoburg Forest in the Empire's early history. During the Third Centrury AD, the Eastern part of the Empire had been threatened and humbled by the Sasanian Dynasty of Persia, which for a time posed the greatest threat to the Empire.
His descriptions of the changing nature of Rome are very good and give us a good sense of how the empire was evolving while at the same time adhering to its basic traits. The landowning classes, the military, the division of power at the top (i.e. two emperors, one East, one West), the imperial bureaucracy and other facets are all discussed. The changing nature of the Germanic speaking regions and their economy are also discussed, even with fairly limited evidence. The conflicts between Rome and those across its borders had been occurring for some time, but by the late fourth century AD, things changed in dramatic ways.
In AD 376, thousands of these Barbarians sought refuge in Roman territory, a decision that would have grave consequences for Valens and his army at Hadrianople a few years later. Heather argues that it was the Huns migration westwards, in turn pushing these other groups like the Goths into Roman territory, that ultimately had more impact on the decline and fall of the Western Empire than Attila's own raid on the West in the mid fifth century. In AD 410, Alaric's Goths had sacked Rome, though Heather makes it out to be more of a symbolic blow than a life threatening blow for the Empire.
There were imperial leaders like Flavius Constantius and later Aetius who managed to check and defeat numerous barbarian forces and usurpers who sought to exact more territory from the Empire, which was gradually weakening the Empire's revenue source and hence it's ability to survive. Ironically, Aetius had been able to enlist the support of Hunnic forces to confront the Visigoths at one point and later when Attila was attacking the West, Aetius employed Visigoths, including their king, Theoderic, against the Huns.
The seizure of most of the Roman territory in North Africa by the Vandal-Alan coalition, including its richest provinces like Carthage, was a major blow to the Empire's revenue and supply source. Heather also argues that Attila's death in some ways precipitated the decline of the West as the Hunnic Empire would soon dissolve and the various tribes would be asserting their own desire for independent kingdoms. A final attempt to take back Carthage and Rome's former territories in North Africa with massive assistance from Constantinople in terms of their large fleet would end up in total failure by AD 468. In AD 476, the last Western Emperor was deposed, thus ending the Western Roman Empire. As Heather argues, if internal problems had been the sole reason for Rome's fall, why did the Eastern Empire continue and even flourish for some time afterwards? He also uses the later Carolingian Empire as an example of an empire possessing fatal internal problems.
Heather's arguments are sound and seem to be based on pretty solid research. I still don't think there will ever be one definitive explanation for the reasons or the events that led to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. I guess since I'm not an expert on it I'm taking a safe approach to this issue. Heather's book is still impressive and displays some sturdy interpretations. Of course one of the difficulties in understanding this period is the lack of surviving evidence from written sources to material remains. There will always be so many unanswered questions. Heather utilizes both the written records and archaeological evidence very effectively. Many of the historians and writers from this period I had never heard of. Overall, a very good book.
The last half about the barbarians was less fascinating as it seemed to be basically a never-ending free-for-all. It is also well-written and I may get back to it when I have the time.
I should mention I got this Roman Empire/barbarian book by Heather in the form of an ebook. This is not about the book itself but the ebook had images that were basically useless because they were so small. I don't know what a get-around for that could be. Also, if you get this in ebook and write lots of notes, be sure to backup to the Amazon cloud regularly. I didn't and a lot of notes mysteriously disappeared.
But though he shows how the Roman response to the Persian threat changed things, he does not go into how this might have changed, and weakened, the Empire.
The Roman economy was plantation-based. It was slave-driven only when the Romans had new slaves: after their conquests stopped, (mostly) free labor did the grunt work.
But most importantly, before the Persians, taxation was half local: local magnates constructed public buildings to gain places on the civic curia. After the Persians, the Romans built a "nationalized" bureaucracy and the curia were no longer important. The local peasants (for that is what the working class was post-Diocletian) pointed out vulnerabilities and choice targets to the barbaric invaders. Once the Imperial military protection weakened, and were already controlled, taxed and suppressed, the Empire was a lose/lose proposition to the great majority of citizens. They didn't have to hate the Empire... they need only stop identifying with it. (I have not even mentioned the insanely wasting dynastic wars that were proof on the face that the Romans were, largely, politically incoherent after the Republic.)
Heather does not examine this fatal problem of morale. Nevertheless, his history is concise, the campaigns lucid, and many wonderful, compelling new archaeological facts about the condition of the Empire, her ruling class, her citizens and economy are presented. Your opinion of the Empire will change after you read this book.