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Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization Paperback – June 1, 2010
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—Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire
“Rome never fell -- it simply moved five hundred miles East -- to Byzantium. For over a thousand years the Byzantines commanded one of the most visceral and vivid empires the world has ever known. And yet their achievements are consistently underplayed; written out of history. Lars Brownworth is a rare talent. His contagious passion brings murderous empresses, conniving eunuchs, lost Greek texts and Byzantine treasures of fairy-tale proportions blinking back into the light. Confidently striding through time and across the mountains and plains of the Eastern Mediterranean, Brownworth puts this theocratic superstate slap-bang in the center of mankind's global story; back where it should be. The Byzantines made our world what it is today. Lars Brownworth matches their verve and brio in his seductive and gripping account.”
—Bettany Hughes, PBS host and author of Helen of Troy
“This is history as it used to be, history as story-telling. In this fascinating account of the Byzantine empire, Lars Brownworth covers a thousand years of blood-letting, outrageous luxury, bitter religious disputes and vaulting ambition without giving the slightest impression of being rushed or crowded. The page turns unaided.”
—Anthony Everitt, bestselling author of Augustus, Cicero and The First Emperor
"A hugely entertaining and often moving portrait of a civilization to which the modern West owes an immense but neglected debt. Read it, and you will never use the word 'Byzantine' as a term of abuse again."
—Thomas Holland, author of Millennium, Persian Fire and Rubicon
“Lost to the West is the sort of history I wish I’d been offered in school — a fast-paced adventure story that covers over a thousand years of political intrigue, brilliant leaders, incompetent squabblers, mayhem, butchery and religious divides, and vividly pictures a bygone era that is still a vital part of our heritage.”
—Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds
"The Byzantines are back! Correcting centuries of neglect, Lars Brownworth guides us through a forgotten world and, with clarity and wit, brings it to vibrant life. Filled with a dazzling cast of ruthless Emperors, conniving generals and half-crazed scholars, Lost to the West is both entertaining and enlightening -- a great piece of popular history."
—Tony Perrottet, author of Pagan Holiday and The Naked Olympics
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Lars Brownworth is not a professional historian, but he is a fantastic history-teller. "Lost to the West" is a portrait of the history of the eastern half of the empire from its founding by Constantine the Great to its demise under his namesake. The major "great men" (and women) as well as big events find a place in his fast-moving narrative: Constantine, Justinian, Belisarius, the Council of Nicea, the erection of Hagia Sophia, the Great Schism, and the centuries long battle with Islam.
Professional historians will probably find something to quibble with here and there. But if you know nothing about Byzantium (as the eastern empire came to be known), then Brownworth is the place to start. He includes a list of primary and secondary sources at the end of the book, as well as a chronological list of eastern emperors.
Lars Brownworth has written an absolutely stunning popular history of the Byzantine Empire. Remarkably, he covers in surprising detail more than a thousand years of growth, decline, war, peace, prosperity, poverty, devastation by plague, earthquakes, invading armies and internal sloth, corruption and incompetence in just over 300 pages. His writing style is relaxed and easy, yet packed with facts. There are occasions when things become confusing because he doesn't mention the years of certain event often enough and sometimes skips ahead by decades or even generation. By these are tiny criticisms to make in the context of his great achievement, making the history of the Byzantine Empire easily accessible.
I consider myself to be a history buff. Though my area of concentration is primarily 19th Century Europe and the United States, I consider myself well versed in global history. But I couldn't go more than a page or two in "Lost To The West" without learning something new to me. Without Byzantine standing in the way for centuries, the onslaught of Islam might not have been stopped.Read more ›
[Note: the book covers the same territory as the podcast, although the book is more detailed and worth reading if you liked the podcast.]
Brownworth's Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization is literally the thousand-year history of Byzantium. It begins with Constantine and ends with the Muslim conquest in 1453. Sometimes this means the book reads too quickly, with emperors dying before the reader even gets to know them. Golden ages fade quickly into dark ages - and then back again to golden ages. However, Brownworth's goal is to introduce Byzantium to the 21st century public and, as he puts it, whet the reader's appetite for more. Doing so requires speeding past decades, or even centuries, of history, but this is often necessary to complete the story in one volume. The scope is ambitious, although I think by and large Brownworth succeeds in both providing enough detail to make Byzantium real and not getting too bogged down within a particular time period.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An outstanding introduction to this topic. Brownworth gives enough detail to make this read like a novel without burdening the reader with going into textbook-esque minutia. Read morePublished 11 days ago by TOM
Those who write about struggles between the Sunni and Shia and other variations maybe overlook the fragmentation of Christianity. This book has current value.Published 14 days ago by Anthony Tassone Jr.
The book illustrates the fascinating story of the Byzantine Empire, which existed for eleven centuries after the fall of the western Roman Empire. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Michael Lapelosa
Excellent book! I love the style of writing! A great history of an Empire that is rarely talked about in Western education. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Dragonfly Samurai
A very interesting over view. The book moves fast, over 1100 years in little over 300 pages. Great book to pin point interests to study more in depth and gain an over all feel for... Read morePublished 1 month ago by TGS
Enlightening material though written in a casual chatty style without source references.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
The forgotten and ignored history of Byzantium. A great summary of what really happened to the Roman empire and it's influence on Western culture.Published 1 month ago by Donald Cain
How could the West forget about such an important part of history. The book was really interesting and well written.Published 2 months ago by Matt