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Customer Review

on January 5, 2012
Diehl's book here was the first one I ever owned regarding the history of the Byzantine state. I found it to be quite limited in scope desiring as I did much more in-depth knowledge of "Second Rome". Eventually, I had to turn to other scholars such as John Julius Norwich, Steven Runciman, and George Ostrogorsky in order to bridge the many gaps - in some cases chasms - I found in Diehl. If one is interested in the state of Byzantine scholarship as it was practiced before and during the Second World War (Diehl died in 1944) then this work arguably has some value. However, in the two generations since Professor Diehl's passing, much more has come to light about the heir to Rome which outlasted its western counterpart by nearly a millineum. Perhaps had one attended Diehl's lectures on the subject at the Sorbonne, one might have gotten more of a sense of what Byzantine civilization was - and was not. Unfortunately I got none of that here. I recall coming away from reading this book feeling that Byzantium was still just as distant and unknowable as it always had been. Only when I obtained George Ostrogorsky's "History of the Byzantine State" did this era, its people, and all of its struggles throughout its thousand year existence finally begin to come alive for me. This is not meant as any disrespect to Dr. Diehl, it's just that his approach to the subject matter in this particular instance did not go into enough depth to satisfy this particular reader.
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