A Short History of Byzantium

A Short History of Byzantium

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by John Julius Norwich
     
 

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"Norwich is always on the lookout for the small but revealing details. . . . All of this he recounts in a style that consistently entertains."
The New York Times Book Review

In this magisterial adaptation of his epic three-volume history of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich chronicles the world's longest-lived Christian empire. Beginning with…  See more details below

Overview

"Norwich is always on the lookout for the small but revealing details. . . . All of this he recounts in a style that consistently entertains."
The New York Times Book Review

In this magisterial adaptation of his epic three-volume history of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich chronicles the world's longest-lived Christian empire. Beginning with Constantine the Great, who in a.d. 330 made Christianity the religion of his realm and then transferred its capital to the city that would bear his name, Norwich follows the course of eleven centuries of Byzantine statecraft and warfare, politics and theology, manners and art.

In the pages of A Short History of Byzantium we encounter mystics and philosophers, eunuchs and barbarians, and rulers of fantastic erudition, piety, and degeneracy. We enter the life of an empire that could create some of the world's most transcendent religious art and then destroy it in the convulsions of fanaticism. Stylishly written and overflowing with drama, pathos, and wit, here is a matchless account of a lost civilization and its magnificent cultural legacy.

"Strange and fascinating . . . filled with drollery and horror."                         
Boston Globe

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Editorial Reviews

bn.com
This accessible abridgment of Norwich's three-volume work is an lively look at what happened when the center of Christianity moved to Constantinople upon the fall of the Roman Empire.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1995, the third and concluding volume of Lord Norwich's magnificent chronicle of Byzantium was published to wide acclaim; now the author has condensed his sprawling narrative into a single volume of locomotive power and magisterial concision. Norwich presents deft and wide-ranging scholarship (backed by a lengthy bibliography but no footnotes) through dry but invigorating prose as he guides the reader at breakneck speed through Byzantium's defining moments, from its foundation in A.D. 330 by Constantine the Great through the agonies of its final conquest in 1453 by the Ottoman Turks. The result is a dizzying litany of plots and intrigues, palace revolutions, theological controversies and encounters with myriad hostile neighbors over the course of 11 centuries. Norwich buoys his colorful narrative with trenchant assessments of individual potentates, linking the character of each to the destiny of the empire as a whole. A rich-and ultimately poignant-epic of Christendom's great empire in the East, this history brims with humanity, historical understanding and unrelenting drama.
Library Journal
Seeking to reach a broader audience, Norwich has abridged his acclaimed three-volume history, Byzantium (LJ 3/1/89 and LJ 1/92), into one volume that has been published to coincide with a major exhibition on Byzantine art and culture at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art this spring. Byzantium was disparaged if not ignored by English-speaking historians until Robert Byron's influential The Byzantine Achievement (1929), which did much to rehabilitate its reputation. For over 1000 years, Byzantium shielded a developing European culture from invasions from the east. The Byzantines not only helped to preserve and disseminate the heritage of Greece and Rome to a Europe seeking its classical roots but also developed a sublime artistic tradition that flourishes to this day. This work provides a marvelous introduction for students and the general reader. Libraries that have not acquired the three-volume work should consider adding this one. Highly recommended.Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
School Library Journal
YAA condensation of Norwich's three-volume study of the Byzantine Empire. It is the story of a civilization that flourished economically, militarily, and, most importantly, as a center for culture and the arts while the rest of Europe struggled through the Dark and Middle Ages. Despite the empire being the most powerful nation in Europe for over 1000 years, its history reads like a soap operawith grand intrigue, despotic rulers, madmen, conquests, betrayals, religious schism, crusades, and eventual decline. The book is massive in scope and although every other ruler seems to be named either Constantine, Constantius, or Constans, the book is surprisingly easy to read. Detailed maps; charts showing the lineage of the major personalities; and lists of emperors, sultans, and popes help readers keep track of who was who and where the major events took place. An extensive index makes this book useful as a reference tool.
— Robert Burnham, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679450887
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/04/1997
Edition description:
Abridged
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
6.49(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.49(d)

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