How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower

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How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower

Format:  Paperback,

531 pages

Publisher: Yale Univ Pr

Publish Date: Sep 2010

ISBN-13: 9780300164268

ISBN-10: 0300164262

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Book Information

The following content was provided by the publisher.
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.

Specifications

Publisher: Yale Univ Pr
Publish Date: Sep 2010
ISBN-13: 9780300164268
ISBN-10: 0300164262
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 531
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.36
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.0 x 9.35 x 1.5

Chapter outline

List of Mapsp. vii
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. 1
Introduction - The Big Questionp. 11
Crisis? The Third Centuryp. 27
The Kingdom of Goldp. 29
The Secret of Empirep. 53
Imperial Womenp. 70
King of Kingsp. 86
Barbariansp. 103
The Queen and the 'Necessary' Emperorp. 123
Crisisp. 138
Recovery? The Fourth Centuryp. 155
The Four - Diocletian and the Tetrarchyp. 157
The Christianp. 174
Rivalsp. 194
Enemiesp. 205
The Paganp. 223
Gothsp. 245
East and Westp. 264
Fall? The Fifth and Sixth Centuriesp. 283
Barbarians and Romans: Generals and Rebelsp. 285
The Sister and the Eternal Cityp. 299
The Hunp. 314
Sunset on an Outpost of Empirep. 335
Emperors, Kings and Warlordsp. 353
West and Eastp. 370
Rise and Fallp. 388
Conclusion - A Simple Answerp. 405
Epilogue - An Even Simpler Moralp. 416
Chronologyp. 425
Glossaryp. 441
Bibliographyp. 449
Notesp. 467
Indexp. 511

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2009-05-01)

These two fine books about late Roman history bring to mind the current discussion of the worldwide economic debacle's impact on empire. Goldsworthy's popular history traces the three centuries leading up to the final collapse of the Western Empire in 476 C.E. In the shorter, more academic 428 AD, Traina follows a single year across the late empire from Egypt to Britannia. While Goldsworthy pursues large-scale trends over centuries, Traina describes life on the ground (as far as the historical record allows) through the leading figures of the day, including generals, emperors, and clerics.

Goldsworthy convincingly argues that the Roman state collapsed from within, showing that internal disorder and the ballooning bureaucracy (rather than barbarian invasion or Christianity) created the conditions leading to fall. Traina's focus on a single year, a half-century before the end of the Western Empire, reveals a world already more like the medieval period than ancient times, with Christian bishops arguing over heresy, ascetic monks perched atop columns, and Germanic tribes occupying much of Gaul and Spain (and preparing to invade Africa). The authors' complementary perspectives lead to similar conclusions: the empire's ever-so-slow collapse was almost unnoticeable to the Romans, for whom the concept of mighty Imperial Rome endured despite the reality simply because there was nothing to take its place.

Unusual for a popular historian, Goldsworthy always takes the time to share with readers his interpretive process with source materials, and he is more explicit than Traina about present-day parallels. Goldsworthy's book would satisfy any reader, while Traina's scholarly work makes a good follow-up for serious students.

-Stewart Desmond, New York

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable. Its vast territory accounted 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. What accounts for this improbable decline? Here, Adrian Goldsworthy applies the scholarship, perspective, and narrative skill that defined his monumental Caesar to address perhaps the greatest of all historical questions—how Rome fell.

It 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.

How Rome Fell is a brilliant successor to Goldsworthy's "monumental" ( The Atlantic) Caesar.

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