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Byzantium (II): The Apogee Hardcover – Jan 1992


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Hardcover, Jan 1992
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group (Jan. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394537793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394537795
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,042,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Born in 1929, John Julius Norwich served in the foreign office for twelve years before resigning in 1964 in order to write. His many publications include his two-book history published by Penguin in one volume entitled The Normans in Sicily; two travel books, Mount Athos (with Reresby Sitwell) and Sahara; The Architecture of Southern England; Glyndebourne; three anthologies of poetry and prose, Christmas Crackers, More Christmas Crackers and Still More Christmas Crackers; A History of Venice; and his three-volume history of the Byzantine empire of which this is the first, Byzantium: The Apogee is the second, and Byzantium: The Decline and Fall is the third. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquaries, a Companion of the Royal Victorian Order and a Commendatore of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Charles Peter William Stonehouse on 3 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
I found "Byzantium The Apogee" to be a wonderful book, breathing life into a fascinating yet neglected area of history. I thought that J J Norwich's witty and perceptive commentary lifted a veil on the passions, ambitions and the (sometimes bizzare) obsessions of the procession of emperors - along with their numerous consorts, mistresses, eunuchs, officials, generals, rivals and enemies. The result is an epic story - sometimes high drama, sometimes tragedy and at other times breathtaking farce.
Please take my advice and read the three separate volumes: although there is a single volume edition, it is abridged - you really don't want to miss anything from this fascinating saga.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By madradubh on 20 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
Whilst this book is not an academic text it is a blistering account of the middle years of the Eastern Roman Empire. I like the fact that Norwich does not examine everyday life in Byzantium - we have plenty of texts which do that. No, this book's sole purpose is to introuduce the reader to a remarkable forgotten empire. His narrative pace is wonderful and he nevers leaves you behind on his whirlwind tour of Byzantine history. A great history book - you'll not be dissapointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hillpaul on 30 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
The Dark Ages prove not as dark. Illuminated by a wealth of detail and insight, the second part of Norwich's trilogy proves as captivating as the first. Where Western Europe struggled for centuries to overcome the effects of the barbarian invasions, Byzantium struggled for centuries to avoid sinking as low. Beset on all sides it survived and acted as a beacon as well as a prize for all those around it and pace Pirenne, acted as the third leg if not the main prop of the post Roman oikumene that surrounded the Mediterranean by 800 A.D.
The desperate external and vicious internal struggles are crackingly well told with plenty of maps appendices and bibliographies to help what could be a struggle for the reader unfamiliar with such an exotic and almost alien period of history.
You can almost taste the wine and smell the incense
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Emperor on 18 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just as good as Volume 1.

A fantastic book. JJ Norwich is a great writer. The endless parade of rulers and religious disputes in Byzantium's history can get a bit tiring but he does very well in keeping it interesting. His personal views are always well measured and considered and he clearly indicates where there are areas of controversy.
This is a general history and I think that in a few areas there have been some new discoveries but this book is still considered to be accurate.
A very pleasurable read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Byzantium maintains a mystery and romantic charm for all who study her. An Empire that lasted in various forms for over 1400 years (or over 1700 depending on if you count the time between the birth of Roman city state till it's first inroads into Greece). Byzantium saw many highs and many lows as the long centuries past.

John Julius Norwich's series of three books about this entity (it's hard to call it a state, a country or an empure, for it was many things at once) are with out doubt, one of the great works on the subject. Easily accessable, with a flowing style and good research, this work goes a long way to debunking Gibbon's work on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. You will get swept along with the prose and get a slight flavour of what it was like to be there and will weap when you get to the end.

This book, the Apogee, starts off with the end of Irene's reign and then endswith the crowning of Alexios as Basileus. The chapters are broken down by Emperor (with a couple of exceptions, one chapter is called Krum, the Bulgarian Khan who threatened Byzantium during one of it's most weakened times) and cover a narrative view of the major events during the reigns. This book therefore covers The Emperors of the Nikephorian (though there as only 3 of them over the course of 11 years), Amorian (who began the slow work of reclaiming lost terrorty, eventually), Macedonian (perhaps Byzantiums greatest emperors) and Doukid (Perhaps the worst) Dynasties. The focus is primarily on political, religious studies (the two go hand in hand in Byzantium), there is no great look at social changes and movements during this period. The only weak point is a distinct lack of maps so as to put places to names. There are a few, but nowhere near enough.

All in all this is a great work, both by itself, as part of the series and also as an entry into the world of Byzantium
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By chris bartolo (bartlu23@maltanet.net) on 27 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
the apogee of the 1123 years of byzantium is masterly written by perhaps one of the best writers in this field, JJ Norwich. Like in all history books the important is to explain the political backround for each and every occasion. Norwich does this beatifully without the bordem of spoon feeding, and with fluidity that makes reading pleasent for the normal reader.
The only negative point one can highlight is that it explain very little on the behaviour and culture at the time. I rated the book 4 has it is a very good book for the amature historian but difficult to be used for advanced rescearch
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DavesTheName on 6 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you read and enjoyed the first book in this trilogy (Byzantium - The Early Centuries) then you will most definitely enjoy this one too. It continues to tell the colourful tale of the many emperors, their vices and virtues, successes and failures, and the endless invasions by the Bulgarians.
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