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History of the Goths 2nd ed. Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is intended for academics and therefore includes numerous citations and end-notes and footnotes. If the reader can ignore all the note references, the narrative flows well enough. Wolfram's detailed analysis does dispell a few nationalistic myths, but he replaces them with a thorough retelling of Gothic history. Most reference works about ancient Germanic peoples tend to speak of the Goths in an offhand manner. But they left a lasting imprint on several parts of Europe and Asia, even if we can no longer feel their presence today. Wolfram does a good job of removing the Goths from legend and putting them back into history.
On the other hand, you could praise them. The reasons for favoring the Goths were somewhat diverse. For example, the Victorian socialist and poet (and designer and fantasy novelist, etc.) William Morris portrayed them as wonderful examples of folk-solidarity against the corruption and imperialism of Rome.
In Germany, at the same time, historians announced that they were convinced that the Goths demonstrated how the Germanic Race brought Freedom back into the world -- just like the Kaiser! (Leading Nietzsche to ask the difference between such a Conviction and an ordinary Lie. He also expressed relief that the ancient Germans, whose inferior blood had helped destroy the Roman Empire through intermarriage, were NOT ancestors of the modern Germans.)
In America, broad-minded scholars, brought up on the doctrine of Anglo-Saxon Liberty (and the Norman Yoke), rushed to recognize the continental Goths as honorary Anglo-Saxons, extending a privileged status to at least some Europeans.
All of these views (including Nietzsche's) depended on the assumption that the name Goth (and its variants) in ancient and early medieval texts always meant the same thing, and that the Ostrogoths and Visigoths were simply branches of the same original tribe -- "tribe" too being a term taken for granted (along with translating *gens* as *race*).Read more ›
The Goths are one of those peoples from whom legends were made; sadly through a process of historical fate, & grave misrepresentation, the Goths are all but forgotten to contemporary popular knowledge. This book tries successfully to understand the world & culture of an ancient people so important to European history. If one has an inquiring mind, this book is no difficult read at all, - & for this motivation, it's a worthwhile investment.
As Wolfram admits, "A Goth was anyone who said he was," and the book suffers from the same lack of focus. Although attempts are made to discuss the social structure, culture, and history, military and otherwise, of the Goths, the discussions are superficial, rambling, and without point, and leave the reader feeling inconclusive. Wolfram seems fearful of drawing conclusions in this book, as if hypothesis or informed opinion might make him seem an irresponsible historian.
Who, after all, were these people, and why did they ravage Europe, and why were they so, finally, inestimably incapable of sustaining their identity? The book begs answers.
In part, the fault may be the writing style, which is textbook dry and lacks any sense (or attempt) at vividness. Wolfram's Goths are museum pieces, not a living, breathing community of people.
The scholarship of this work is exhaustive and astounding. Over half the book is comprised of Author's Notes and Bibliography. Certainly, if the reader has an abiding interest in Gothic history, this is a wonderful sourcebook for other, primary, materials.
Reading much more like a dissertation than a popular work of history, HISTORY OF THE GOTHS is a tedious and boring read, unless, like the author, you find these vanished people compellingly fascinating.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story about a long lost people. Great reference guide as well.Published 11 months ago by EW Rafalske
please update binding on this book for it is a hardback . thank you
Title History of the Goths
Binding Paperback... Read more
Wolfram's _A HIstory of the Goths_ is a scholarly treatise, and is written for an academic audience, and therefore may not be to everyone's tastes. Read morePublished 20 months ago by doc peterson
Herwig Wolfram's History of the Goths is very worth reading due to the fact that there is so much information in it. Read morePublished on March 28, 2012 by C. Holme
For people studying European history, this is a good overview of the Goths, with particular emphasis on their expansion into Europe in the 5th and 6th centuries. Read morePublished on February 18, 2012 by Fred Camfield
Translated from the German, and in some ways almost a stereotype of German scholarship: big, heavy, dense (c. Read morePublished on April 16, 2011 by Caleb Hanson
I really have to wonder if previous reviewers have actually read this.
Wolfram does not base his argument on linguistics (though his are fine - I checked) or on... Read more