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History of the Byzantine State Paperback – Dec 1986


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Product details

  • Paperback: 674 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; Revised edition edition (Dec 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813511984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813511986
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.8 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,072,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

History of the Byzantine State With clarity and logic, George Ostrogorsky succinctly traces the intricate thousand-year course of the Byzantine Empire. While his emphasis is on political development, he gives extensive consideration to social, esthetic, economic, and ecclesiastical factors as well. He also illuminates the Empire's links with classical antiquity, as well as its effect on contemporaneous and subsequent European a... Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct 1998
Format: Paperback
George Ostrogorsky's book covers all Byzantine history from Diocletian and Constantine to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It is, moreover, intelligible and useful to the nonspecialist with only a broad historical background. Its particular value is that it imparts an understanding of the *process* of Byzantine history, especially in three key periods. First, the transformation of the decrepit East Roman Empire to a viable state able to withstand great adversities and heavy defeats. Second, the reinvigoration of that state after the iconoclast crisis and its rise to great power. Finally, the unintentionally suicidal policies adopted after the death of Basil II, which led to the breaking of Byzantium's back only fifty years later. Ostrogorsky's copious footnotes - happily, not endnotes - are especially useful because they cite many arguments and authors with which Ostrogorsky himself disagrees. Thus he provides easy access to views other than his own. There are a few minor irritants in the softcover edition, the absence of most of Ostrogorsky's excellent maps being the main one. There is also some little use of untranslated and untransliterated Greek. But neither deficiency adversely affects the book's overall value.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Sep 1998
Format: Paperback
Either in its original German or in this English translation by Joan Hussey, "History of the Byzantine State" is a standard reference used in other modern historical books on Byzantium; at least two authors I have read openly praise the book in their own bibliographies as the best work on Byzantine history. It is hard to disagree with this assessment, since this tome is really that good and the research which went into it is nothing short of painstaking. George Ostrogorsky introduces his narrative with a thorough overview of the development of Byzantine studies from the sixteenth century onwards, followed by the history of the Empire proper by sections, each of which covers a specific historical period. In addition, each section is prefaced by an excellent bibliographical narrative of Byzantine sources which cover the period in question; these narratives put together provide the reader with a very instructive literary history of Byzantium. Ostrogorsky has a penchant for detail in both the text and the extensive footnotes accompanying it. But let the reader beware: this book is essentially a dry political and military history with some legal, theological, and economic history thrown in for good measure; even the literary history mentioned above limits itself to documents of historiographical value. The author did compensate for the lack of written coverage of the arts and architecture by including nice illustrations of Byzantine structures and artwork. Even as this revised edition was published almost 30 years ago, "History of the Byzantine State" remains a much-revered classic among Byzantinists.
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Format: Paperback
Ostrogorsky's History of the Byzantine State is an excellent book for the scholar, as well as the interested reader to use for any understanding of the history of the Byzantine Empire. Well written, concise, and thoroughly interesting, Ostrogorsky depicts the transition of a multi-cultural Late Roman Empire, to a smaller but more centralized and powerful Byzantine State, that became the cultural Renaissance for Eastern Europe and the Near East. Anyone wishing to expand his/her knowledge on this important time in history will not be disappointed to read this work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
A superb work of scholarship. 3 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Either in its original German or in this English translation by Joan Hussey, "History of the Byzantine State" is a standard reference used in other modern historical books on Byzantium; at least two authors I have read openly praise the book in their own bibliographies as the best work on Byzantine history. It is hard to disagree with this assessment, since this tome is really that good and the research which went into it is nothing short of painstaking. George Ostrogorsky introduces his narrative with a thorough overview of the development of Byzantine studies from the sixteenth century onwards, followed by the history of the Empire proper by sections, each of which covers a specific historical period. In addition, each section is prefaced by an excellent bibliographical narrative of Byzantine sources which cover the period in question; these narratives put together provide the reader with a very instructive literary history of Byzantium. Ostrogorsky has a penchant for detail in both the text and the extensive footnotes accompanying it. But let the reader beware: this book is essentially a dry political and military history with some legal, theological, and economic history thrown in for good measure; even the literary history mentioned above limits itself to documents of historiographical value. The author did compensate for the lack of written coverage of the arts and architecture by including nice illustrations of Byzantine structures and artwork. Even as this revised edition was published almost 30 years ago, "History of the Byzantine State" remains a much-revered classic among Byzantinists.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Well worth reading 15 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
George Ostrogorsky's book covers all Byzantine history from Diocletian and Constantine to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It is, moreover, intelligible and useful to the nonspecialist with only a broad historical background. Its particular value is that it imparts an understanding of the *process* of Byzantine history, especially in three key periods. First, the transformation of the decrepit East Roman Empire to a viable state able to withstand great adversities and heavy defeats. Second, the reinvigoration of that state after the iconoclast crisis and its rise to great power. Finally, the unintentionally suicidal policies adopted after the death of Basil II, which led to the breaking of Byzantium's back only fifty years later. Ostrogorsky's copious footnotes - happily, not endnotes - are especially useful because they cite many arguments and authors with which Ostrogorsky himself disagrees. Thus he provides easy access to views other than his own. There are a few minor irritants in the softcover edition, the absence of most of Ostrogorsky's excellent maps being the main one. There is also some little use of untranslated and untransliterated Greek. But neither deficiency adversely affects the book's overall value.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Thousand Years of History in one concise book 5 Sep 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ostrogorsky's History of the Byzantine State is an excellent book for the scholar, as well as the interested reader to use for any understanding of the history of the Byzantine Empire. Well written, concise, and thoroughly interesting, Ostrogorsky depicts the transition of a multi-cultural Late Roman Empire, to a smaller but more centralized and powerful Byzantine State, that became the cultural Renaissance for Eastern Europe and the Near East. Anyone wishing to expand his/her knowledge on this important time in history will not be disappointed to read this work
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Good survey 29 Oct 2002
By Glenn McDorman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ostrogorsky has put together a good single-volume survey of the thousand years of Byzantium. The tale begins, standardly, with Diocletian and Constantine, and ends with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. He takes an omniscient view of Byzantium, focusing neither on the lives and deeds of the Emperors nor the cultural and religious developments, but telling a well-balanced narrative. In that it serves as a useful introduction. However, Ostrogorsky writes without any passion, and fails to humanize the major figures. There are, though, several excellent maps that put others to shame. In all, the book is worth owning for the factual narrative and great maps. If you are looking for an impassioned and entertaining story you should pick up John Julius Norwich instead.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Classic. Still the Gold Standard for Byzantine History. 4 Jun 2010
By Peter Ramming - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Roman political concepts, Greek culture, and the Christian faith were the main elements which determined Byzantine development. Without all three the Byzantine way of life would have been inconceivable. It was the integration of Hellenistic culture and the Christian religion within the Roman imperial framework that gave rise to that historical phenomenon which we know as the Byzantine Empire." Thus begins the first paragraph of George Ostrogorsky's masterful narrative of Byzantine history. As this quotation demonstrates, Ostrogorsky's writing is a model of erudition, clarity, and efficiency. It would be hard to improve the quality of his prose, and he maintains this level of scholarship throughout the 500+ pages of main text. But the writing has a natural fluidity which carries the reader along rather effortlessly throughout the full span of East Roman/Byzantine history, from 284 A.D. (rise of Emperor Diocletian) to 1453 A.D. (fall of Constantinople to the Turks). Ostrogorsky gives this inherently rich and fascinating material the virtuoso treatment it deserves, and the reader is rewarded on every page by Ostrogorsky's efforts.
Of course, readers of this English translation from the original German of the 3rd edition (1963) of Ostrogorsky's "History of the Byzantine State" owe an immense debt to Professor Joan M. Hussey, whose rendering of the German into English is a masterpiece in its own right. Moreover, through the collaboration of Professors Ostrogorsky and Hussey, the truly extensive references and footnotes have been brought up to date from the 1940 German 1st ed. to the 1967 time-frame of Hussey's 2nd English edition presented here. Of course, in the intervening 40+ years a veritable explosion in the fields of Late Antique and Byzantine studies has taken place, but Ostrogorky's mastery of the original sources, and the German, French, Italian, English, and Slavic secondary literature will not soon be replicated.
"History of the Byzantine State" is a delight to read, and is divided into 8 main chapters. These chapters are respectively subdivided into numbered sections, and both chapters and sections are clearly titled, so that the breadth of Byzantine History is clear through a glance at the Table of Contents.
Other reviewers have complained that Ostrogorsky's writing is dry and lacks a "human touch." I found the opposite to be the case: "History of the Byzantine State" has a cogency and beauty of style, and is a model of articulate scholarship. And with such rich material as the myriad colorful historical human figures and locales which populate Byzantine history, it would be difficult to render this history in a boring fashion. Ostrogorsky's emphasis is the political narrative, but he does not ignore social and cultural aspects of Byzantium, and upon finishing his book the reader has a sense of a complete picture of Byzantine history and civilization. In the paperback version now standard the maps are incomplete, but this is easily remedied by consulting an historical atlas or the Internet.
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