- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 11, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195325419
- ISBN-13: 978-0195325416
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.6 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 169 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians 1st Edition
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"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.
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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.
Combining narrative, primary documents, archaeology and historical analysis, Dr. Heather writes an entertaining yet insightful treatise on both the causes and the process of Rome's fall. While not categorically solving one of history's great riddles, Dr. Heather does emphasize more external than internal factors as contributing to its demise.
In particular, Dr. Heather contends the the western Roman state was quite healthy up to AD 378, when a bad coincidence of invasions, civil war and poor generalship reduced it a century later to just another kingdom, which then shed the 'Empire' mantle. I can't say I agree with all of his conclusions, but the book makes valid points that any student of antiquities should ponder. Excellent reading and a cautionary tale for our own times.