Customer Reviews for

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volume 1

Average Rating 3
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(12)

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(21)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

A Monument For The Ages -- In A Flawed Edition

This legendary work, which some consider the greatest history writing of all time, may strike potential readers as too intimidating to actually read, but resist that. Much more than the story of the Roman Empire from Augustus to 476 AD, it encompasses Europe, North Afri...
This legendary work, which some consider the greatest history writing of all time, may strike potential readers as too intimidating to actually read, but resist that. Much more than the story of the Roman Empire from Augustus to 476 AD, it encompasses Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and some of outer Asia from ancient times through the whole of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Renaissance, and also tells much of the history of Christianity and Islam. Gibbon's justly famous prose style, with its combination of weightiness, good humor and perfect balance-- a kind of linguistic equivalent of the music of contemporaries Mozart and Haydn-- will rock you through all 3,000-plus pages/1,500-or-so years. Its old-fashioned emphasis on personal drama first, then ideas, makes it a surprisingly easy and compelling read, albeit long. Read some of it every day while reading other books on the side and you will be comfortably carried through the ages. (It took me about eight enjoyable months.) What the book does better than any work you're ever going to read is make you truly feel the rhythm and weight of that ongoing accumulation of time and our actions in it that we call history, and the way Gibbon balances these moments, from the highest attempts of consciousness in art and faith and government and law, to the lowest breakdowns of human violence, whether by the 'civilized' people or barbarians, gives the work its truth. That truth, plus its style, has made it a classic. Plus the sheer cinematic excitement of hurtling through the ages and passing Augustus, Constantine, Christ, Attila, Justinian, Mohammed, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, et al, in action, along with armies of lesser but still overwhelmingly vivid actors and actresses. Yes, modern scholarship has supplemented this work, especially in considering the economic reasons for Rome's decline, and you don't have to accept every one of Gibbon's judgments (for instance, blaming Christianity for an effeminate sapping of old Roman vigor), but today's historians can only dream of achieving his style and sweep. Warning: Don't read when young. You need to have lived some and read a lot and traveled some and thought a lot first. Second warning: While the book itself is five stars plus, the Penguin edition of it has real failings: An absolutely incredible complete absence of maps, republishing the inadequate original index, and above all else the infuriating and outrageous refusal of editor David Womersley to translate Gibbon's Latin, Greek and French footnotes, the most famous footnotes ever written, which make up (with the English footnotes) a volume of their own. By not doing so he has blacked out an important part of this great work. But the rest will amaze you.

posted by Anonymous on November 6, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Unreadable with massive typos

Unreadable bad scan

posted by 10634899 on January 2, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Unreadable with massive typos

    Unreadable bad scan

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Horrible OCR. Not worth getting

    A miserable attempt at an e-book . So many errors you will feel you are translating it yourself.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    poorly assembled

    The pagination is disastrious. Poorly assembled e-book.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Starts at chapter XLVII

    OCR errors

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Worthless Google scanned version.

    No proof-reading whatsoever. Totally unreadable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 7, 2010

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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    Posted November 12, 2010

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    Posted March 28, 2011

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    Posted November 21, 2011

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    Posted June 9, 2011

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