How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower
  • How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower
  • How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower

How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower

3.5 6
by Adrian Goldsworthy
     
 

ISBN-10: 0300137192

ISBN-13: 9780300137194

Pub. Date: 05/12/2009

Publisher: Yale University Press

In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable, its vast territory accounting for most of the known world. By the end of the fifth century, Roman rule had vanished in western Europe and much of northern Africa, and only a shrunken Eastern Empire remained. In his account of the fall of the Roman Empire, prizewinning author Adrian Goldsworthy examines the painful

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Overview

In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable, its vast territory accounting for most of the known world. By the end of the fifth century, Roman rule had vanished in western Europe and much of northern Africa, and only a shrunken Eastern Empire remained. In his account of the fall of the Roman Empire, prizewinning author Adrian Goldsworthy examines the painful centuries of the superpower’s decline. Bringing history to life through the stories of the men, women, heroes, and villains involved, the author uncovers surprising lessons about the rise and fall of great nations.

This was a period of remarkable personalities, from the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius to emperors like Diocletian, who portrayed themselves as tough, even brutal, soldiers. It was a time of revolutionary ideas, especially in religion, as Christianity went from persecuted sect to the religion of state and emperors. Goldsworthy pays particular attention to the willingness of Roman soldiers to fight and kill each other. Ultimately, this is the story of how an empire without a serious rival rotted from within, its rulers and institutions putting short-term ambition and personal survival over the wider good of the state.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300137194
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
05/12/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
684,478
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.80(d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps

List of Illustrations

Preface 1

Introduction The Big Question 11

Pt. 1 Crisis?The Third Century 27

1 The Kingdom of Gold 29

2 The Secret of Empire 53

3 Imperial Women 70

4 King of Kings 86

5 Barbarians 103

6 The Queen and the 'Necessary' Emperor 123

7 Crisis 138

Pt. 2 Recovery? The Fourth Century 155

8 The Four - Diocletian and the Tetrarchy 157

9 The Christian 174

10 Rivals 194

11 Enemies 205

12 The Pagan 223

13 Goths 245

14 East and West 264

Pt. 3 Fall? The Fifth and Sixth Centuries 283

15 Barbarians and Romans: Generals and Rebels 285

16 The Sister and the Eternal City 299

17 The Hun 314

18 Sunset on an Outpost of Empire 335

19 Emperors, Kings and Warlords 353

20 West and East 370

21 Rise and Fall 388

Conclusion - A Simple Answer 405

Epilogue - An Even Simpler Moral 416

Chronology 425

Glossary 441

Bibliography 449

Notes 467

Index 511

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How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
A few years ago I read The Fall of Rome by Peter Heather, another historian of this period. He was more theory oriented than Goldsworthy, who is a strong narrative writer. The only flaw I found in this book was his tendancy to repcap the situation multiple times. Considering the fragmented sources for this period, I think he has done an excellent job of making Rome's fall accessabile to the general reader. I would suggest you read both Heather and Goldsworthy before tackling Gibbon's famous history, which I found a bit dry for a 20th century reader.
willyvan More than 1 year ago
Adrian Goldsworthy has written a fine narrative history of the Roman Empire from 180 AD to 640, focusing on its internal conflicts. As he observes, a long perspective is needed to record the Empire's decline and fall. The Augustan Principate (31 BC-160 AD) brought two centuries of relative internal peace. Then civil wars weakened the Empire, especially in the third and fourth centuries. During the crisis of 235 to 285, more than 60 different men claimed imperial power. These frequent coups embroiled strings of civil and military patrons, splitting state and army. These weaknesses led to the Empire's division in the fourth century. After 395 its western and eastern halves never reunited under the same rule. Each half was weaker than when they were joined. The west finally collapsed in the fifth century as the central power decayed. The army, the unified administration and the emperors all vanished. Barbarian groups occupied Gaul, Spain, Carthage and most of Italy, and the Empire abandoned Britain. Regional powers, independent kingdoms, arose. Lost provinces meant lost taxes and tribute. No longer could the economic base sustain a united empire, and, crucially, an army. The imperial power lost its clear and decisive dominance in the use of force. But the eastern empire stayed united and kept its army, administration and emperors. No barbarians occupied its provinces. The eastern empire lasted for another thousand years, first as a power comparable to Persia, then after the disastrous 572-620 wars with Persia, as just one power among many. In 636, the Arabs defeated the Romans near the river Yarmuk, and then, between 640 and 800, took Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Sicily, Syria and Palestine, further reducing the empire's reach. What caused the Empire's decline and fall? Its sheer size made it increasingly hard to rule as a unit. It was not that external threats were greater in the third and fourth centuries - for example, the Huns' power was broken before the western empire fell. But the succession of coups and consequent civil strife rotted the imperial structure. The Roman Empire was always based on plunder, slavery and violence, but when its ruling class turned to plundering and killing each other, divided they fell.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ArmyofCarp More than 1 year ago
Adrian Goldsworthy's biography of Julius Caesar was quite impressive, as was his "In the Name of Rome," an anthology of biographies of prominent Roman military commanders. So naturally I looked forward with great anticipation to his account of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. I wouldn't say I was disappointed, but the work goes but a little beyond straight narrative history. If you're already familiar with the people and events of the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries in the Western Empire, then this book will add little to your knowledge. Some interesting anecdotes are present, and Goldsworthy does do his typical excellent job dealing with the military aspects of the Roman decline. He also makes a solid and necessary argument against those who would claim that the Roman world 'transformed' and did not fall. I recommend this book highly to general readers interested in learning more on the period, but if you already have a baseline of knowledge look elsewhere for a deeper and broader exploration of this period. James O'Donnell's "The Ruin of the Roman Empire," which I am presently reading, looks to be a good place to start, although I am not sure I agree with some of his arguments. But, that is for another review.
B-2 More than 1 year ago
I have a lot of interest in history of Rome, and enjoyed reading this well researched , fundamental, but still readable book. I must say, however, that it's style is probably be a bit tedious, grayish and dryish for an average leader. Compare it to Edward Gibbons ( you can't not to) and the literary style advantage is on Gibbons side. I grade the books as Buy and Keep (BK), Read Library book and Return ( RLR) and Once I Put it Down I Couldn't Pick it Up ( OIPD-ICPU). This one is RLR unless you a scholar or Roman re-enactor.