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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Abridged, 19 Jun 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Abridged Ed edition (19 Jun. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140437649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140437645
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.8 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Edward Gibbon (1737-94) studied briefly at Magdalen College, Oxford and at Lausanne, Switzerland before being elected to Parliament in 1774. DECLINE & FALL was written over 12 years and established his reputation as a pre-eminent Classical historian.

David Womersley, Official Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Jesus College Oxford, is the author of The Transformation of the Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire (CUP) and edited the 3-volume edition of DECLINE & FALL for Penguin Classics.


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First Sentence
It is not my intention to detain the reader by expatiating on the variety, or the importance of the subject, which I have undertaken to treat; since the merit of the choice would serve to render the weakness of the execution still more apparent, and still less excusable. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Martyr on 2 Sept. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did not have an education that majored in the classics and having given up Latin before O levels, I think I fall short of the target audience of the original author and subsequent editor.
One needs stamina and determination to read the book from cover to cover but the story it tells and the manner of its telling I found compelling.
The great advantage of reading it on a Kindle is that if like me your vocabulary is inadequate to the task then you are able to use the inbuilt dictionary as you proceed.
The story told is epic in every way and the lessons learnt have considerable relevance to today's society - for example, as riots were breaking out recently in Birmingham and London I read the following paragraph:
"Whenever numerous groups of banditti, multiplied by success and impunity, publicly defy, instead of eluding the justice of their country, we may safely infer, that the excessive weakness of the government is felt and abused by the lowest ranks of the community"
The sentence length, multiple levels of parenthesis, syntax and vocabulary require a greater level of concentration on behalf of the reader than then of a modern history book but the effort is worth it.
The edition lost one star by not translating into English some (not all) of the footnotes left in Latin.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
I have read much history in the last few years but no other historical writer has moved me quite like Gibbon. I have shed tears more than once whilst engaged on this extraordinary journey. Until now, my reading of history has been an effort to forge a dim and tenuous link with peoples of the past in the hope of entering, in some small way, their minds and worlds. With Gibbon though my kinship with the generations has been bought vividly to life and made it all too clear, that for good or ill, men and women are the same in all times and all places and that all history is just one story. On a day when fresh war and misery has just erupted in a place which the Romans would have called Colchis (Georgia) it is impossible not to feel that this is the just the same story endlessly repeating itself. Rome rises and falls again and again. The periods of peace, prosperity and freedom precious islands in the midst of chaos that we so easily take for granted. For some of us the barbarians are safely thousands of miles away until the day whereby, through sloth and ignorance, we wake to find them at the gates.

This is no easy read of course. The language, whilst exquisite, verges on the archaic. But for those willing to embark on the journey you will find out as much about the world we live in today as that of supposed antiquity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Enzo F on 10 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this penguin version of Decline and Fall hoping for an abridged, more modern version of the original. Penguin achieves both aspects well. However, I simply had to give up after a few chapters because the formatting of the book makes it unreadable on a Kindle or with the Kindle app on a Mac. The headings for the numerous sections and subsections within in each chapter FOLLOW the text. This means that in order to understand what you are about to read, you need to page forward several pages on your Kindle to the end of the section, page back to the beginning of the section to read the text and then repeat the whole laborious process for the next section. Such a shame.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
At the beginning of this book the Roman empire stands unconquerable - arguably the most successful civilisation ever; by the end Constantinople is falling and the last Caesar is able to muster only a handful of soldiers for the defence of his degenerate regime. The scope of this book is awesome. It is hard to believe that the original text was written over 200 years ago. Gibbon's clarity of thought and arguement is superb.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 6 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Gibbon's ultra-fine delve into the history of Rome wrecked his faith in Christianity (he figured out they just made it up as they went along). This book (the full version) long retained the esteem of being among the list of books banned by the Vatican in its 'Index Librorium prohibitorum.(i.e. dontchya' reada badass bookus)

The text unfolds eloquently in the grand august language that set the standard for all subsequent big histories.

The quality of style is evident from the beginning as your fears of being swamped in a mass of cold detail and chronology are quickly erased. The initial encounter is one of profound eloquence, deep insights and detailed stories grounded in their appropriate context. The text is full of reflective asides on the nature of human beings, the corruptive nature of power, the fragile frame of human unity, and above all the sheer hypocrisy of the dogmas used by ruling forces to give either an ideological or credal basis for their despotism.

I absolutely loved this book, kept in my bag, at my bedside and read it bit by bit, on and off, for over a year. Admittedly, i'm not able to recall the names of all the emperors, all the battles or recite much of the factual instances narrated...but that wasn't the point. It was a journey, rather like taking occasional walks with a wise old man.

I don't really know much about history and haven't read many history books, so I'll leave it to others to comment on whether it's an academically legit and accurate account of Rome. All I can say is that I enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.

I suspect most people will buy this, as i did, with no intent of reading it cover to cover, but once i got started - it was just so engrossing and rich in style that it became a pleasure to read.
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