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Posted February 23, 2006
Like Rome then is like us today
The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, by Peter Heather This new book by a professor at Worcester College, University of Oxford is a true gem among books covering historical subject matter. The past when covered by most books attempting to educate the reader on historical subject matter covering several hundred years often results in text book like reading without the inspirational individual efforts of the everyday citizen being included or explained. If you are interested in finding out just how similar our world events today are to ancient Rome and the issues they faced, read this book! Rome faced many of the same issues as we see today. Heather argues, in my opinion very successfully that it was the barbarians who brought down the Empire rather than any social or moral collapse. In my opinion it succeeds. At 459 pages just for the story and persuasive argument for his theme Heather adds a timeline and other sources as well, making the total page count 572. This book was fun, entertaining and engaging. I highly recommend it.
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Posted October 19, 2008
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Peter Heather's analysis of the resultant decline and fall of the Roman Empire is based on its great predecessor- Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Overall, Edward Gibbon's 1,252 page analysis has the underlying thesis that Rome had a glorious aetataureate or a Golden Age during the Antonine Principate Period. After the passing of these benevolent despots, the Roman Empire underwent stagnation and then inevitable dilapidation, decline and ulimate abjuration as it was to be swept away. This thesis of Edward Gibbon has sparked a controversy. Multitudinous theses have been proposed on the fall of the Roman Empire with Peter Heather being one of them. Peter Heather utilizes socio-demographic means with illustrative methods such as tables, graphs and charts to stress the decentralization of the political unit into the feudal period of manorialism. Within the greater context, society was disrupted to an extent in the fact that the geographic constitution of the Roman Empire had collapsed. This point is where the multifarious theses converge. Edward Gibbon proposed that the fall of Rome was a catastrophe that led Europe into an age of less civilized societies that lacked centralization, unity and internal coherence. For Edward Gibbon, the fall of Rome led to the "Dark Ages". Pirenne's thesis, however, states that Greco-Roman culture continued until 638 CE when the Muslim forces disrupted Byzantine and Mediterranean mercantile activities and deprived the Byzantine forces and all of its Greek and Roman legacies of the Exarchate of Carthage, the Exarchate of Hispania, Syria, Egypt, Cyrenaica and other outlying and semi-peripheral zones. With the disruption of trade and commerce, the age of antiquity finally gave way to the Mediaeval Period. The theory of Late Antiquity maintains that whilst geographic hegemony of Rome fell, it gave way to an era of transition with the Byzantine state and the revival in the West or Charlemagne's Empire as well as the Holy Roman Empire that maintained the Greco-Roman tradition. Peter Heather brings together all these inimical and conflicting theories and adds through assiduous research, interior images, charts, tables, graphs and a rigorous works cited/bibliography list a concise reiteration and a new perspective. For example, Peter Heather mentions that 40% of the Byzantine forces were held in check against the Sassanian Persians. The overall military expenditure, over-extension of manpower and economic exhaustion were some causes of the fall of Rome and an interesting outlook to the continuity/disruption theories that concern the topic of the fall of Rome.
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Posted March 8, 2006
There is much to learn from the backward slide of an advanced civilization when put upon by 'Huns'. I am quite sure that the dramatic decline in populations, living standards, economic, hygene, recreation, longevity, security, educational, technological was something akin to a nuclear event.
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Posted April 11, 2012
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