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The Byzantine Wars [Kindle Edition]

John Haldon
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £12.99
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Book Description

A history of the wars between Byzantium and its numerous foes - the Goths, Arabs, Slavs, Crusaders and Ottoman Turks. By the middle of the sixth century the Byzantine emperor rules a mighty empire that straddled Europe, Asia and North Africa. Within 100 years, this powerful empire had been cut in half. Two centuries later the Byzantine empire was once again a power to be reckoned with, and soon recovered its position as the paramount East Mediterranean and Balkan power, whose fabulour wealth attracted Viking mercenaries and central Asian nomad warriors to its armies, whose very appearance on the field of battle was sometimes enough to bring enemies to terms. No book has ever attempted a survey of Byzantine wars, and few accounts of Byzantine battles have ever been translated into a modern language. This book will provide essential support for those interested in Byzantine history in general as well as a useful corrective to the more usual highly romanticised views of Byzantine civilisation.

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‘The battle narratives flow nicely, both victories and defeats for East Rome, and most are illustrated with comprehensible battle plans… compelling.’ -- History Today

‘The maps and battleplans are excellent… comprehensive… the analysis of battles is the best I have yet read… interesting and original… excellent.’ -- Osprey Military Journal

‘readably deals with the Eastern Empire from Justinian I’s reconquest in the mid-sixth century to its military emasculation by 1204.’ -- BBC History Magazine

About the Author

John Haldon is Professor of Byzantine History at Princeton University. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts on Byzantine history and his other books include Byzantium: A History.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3794 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (1 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #107,999 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BYZANTINE WARS 17 Aug. 2009
A populist history of the military successes and failures of the Empire in less than 200 pages charting the evolution and development of battle tactics. Populist on this occasion is a positive rather pejorative term as this book relies heavily on illustration and less on literary sources to outline its theme. Topographical maps and military plans show the key victories and defeats, distilling a great deal of information into snapshots of the Empire's history with a bibliography at the end of each chapter for the reader to follow up at their leisure.
He outlines the development of the army showing the shifts in its emphasis, from infantry to cavalry, garrison and siege-craft and highlights the central area of weakness as the absence (in the Byzantine rather than the Roman army) of an NCO class which could have obviated the worst excesses and faults of bad generalship.
A good book as many others covering Byzantine history singularly lack the useful adjunct of good mapping as part of the illustrative process
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet 19 Nov. 2009
I would imagine anyone reading this review is either a byzantine history lover, a military history lover, or both. I am both and I found the book to be very good enjoyable, well written and obviously well researched. It fills in a lot of blanks from other books I've read on similar sbuject matter and often changed or expanded on my ideas of the Byzantine Empire and the Byzantine military in particular. My only complaint would be how short it is and my desire for other battles to be analysed but that is only because Haldon does a good job on what he does include.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good and concise survey on Byzantine Warfare 8 Aug. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Haldon's book is a very well written and concise survey to warfare between the Byzantine state and the numerous enemies that it faced during its existence. The book explores the evolution and adaptation in Byzantine tactics sometimes painfully learned through defeat on the battle field and looks at several battles spanning the period from the late Roman period up to the late twelfth century with the Byzantine defeat at Myriokephalon in 1176 which is generally regarded as the beginning of the slow decline of the Empire until its end in 1453.

The book is therefore not a comprehensive and complete survey of Byzantine warfare or military history. It does not cover the last two and half centuries of the Byzantine Empire's existence which still witnessed a number of key battles which are note explored. Neither are the exploration of battles and campaigns before 1176 complete but selective.

Nevertheless it stands as a very accessible, interesting and readible book to be picked up by anyone with an interest in Byzantine military history and helps answer the central question as to why the Byzantine state adeptly preserved its existence for so long against numerous enemies.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I bought this little book in January 2002 and have been using it ever since. In less than 150 pages of main text, John Haldon present over 600 years of wars opposing Byzantium - the Eastern part of the Roman Empire - and its numerous neighbours and invaders. The book starts with an enlightening and very valuable "geography of byzantine warfare" that shows gthe kind of contraints and limitations that successive emperors had to cope with. It is then divided into five chapters of apporximatly the same size (around 20 pages each, except the last one, which is almost double the size). Each chapter starts with couple (sometimes three) of short sections that summarize the main events and military features and evolutions of the period (for instance, for the chapter on Justinian's wars: strategic arrangements, tactics and tactical structures). Then it presents and describes extensively, and for each period, a selection of battles and their consequences. There is also a short glossary and a valuable but short bibliography listing the main primary and modern sources for each of the battles analyzed.

Although I very much symphasize with another reviews comment (he wished that Haldon had included more battles and so do I!), I must admit that the book includes 19 of them. They range from Belisarius' victory at Dara over the Sassanids (but not his defeat the next year against the same at Callinicum) up to the byzantine defeat of Myriokephalon in 1176. Just like Mantzikert a century before, Myriokephalon was not the utter military disaster that it has often been portrayed to be and, for both cases, John Haldon explains why. However, he also explains in his conclusion the two reasons that underpin his selection. One is "because they are those for which most evidence survives".
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