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The Last Roman: Romulus Augustulus and the Decline of the West Hardcover – 15 Dec 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; First Edition edition (15 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750944749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750944748
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,056,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Adrian Murdoch is a journalist specialising in history, business and geopolitical issues. His book The Last Pagan: Julian the Apostate and the Death of the Ancient World was published by Sutton in 2003 and in 2006 Sutton will publish his Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 23 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
The tale of Romulus Augustus has heretofore been a much-neglected one. I have struggled in vain for years to find anyone with anything of note to say about this dying of the light in the Roman west.

Journalist and "Bread and Circuses" blogger Adrian Murdoch does a very fine job of gathering together the limited extant sources to add context and texture to the murky happenings of 475/6. It's very well written, is highly accessible, and is also quite witty.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By F. Aetius on 13 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Adrian Murdoch has produced a number of brilliant books on the Later Roman Empire, including the fantastic 'The Last Pagan', a biography of Julian the Apostate.
This book is a look at the life of the last Roman Emperor of the West, the boy ruler called Romulus Augustulus. Writing a biography of this mysterious figure must have been daunting, as very little is known about him. The ancient scholars never recorded his date or place of death, or much else about him. So not only is this a biography, but it is also a detective story, as Murdoch attempts to reconstruct the Emperor's life from the fragments of history.

We also learn about the background events of Romulus's life, including the exploits of his father, Orestes, who was one of Attila the Hun's henchmen. Ironically, Attila's other henchman was a man named Edeco who would become the father of Odovacer, Romulus's overthrower.
Yet the main force of the book are the events surrounding the fall of the Western Empire, especially the last rulers from Petronius Maximus onwards. The years 475/476 are given a lot of attention, which gives you a detailed look at the Empire's dying moments.
The book then finishes with a look at different portrayls of Romulus Augustulus in popular culture, from novels, plays and film.

The book is wonderfully written, and its one of the most readable books I've come across in years. I read it all in one afternoon, and was thoroughly impressed with how Mr. Murdoch had handelled the limited historical and archaeological evidence. The book also contains a few pictures, from photographs of coins, diptychs, cameos; to scenes from Hollywood films and paintings.

As far as I know this is the only accessible biograpghy of Romulus Augustulus in print. If you have an interest in this fascinating figure, and the world of late Antiquity, then this book should be high on your reading list. Highly Recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Guy Mannering VINE VOICE on 20 July 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The known historical facts about the life of Romulus Augustulus, last emperor of the western Roman empire, can be summarised in a few paragraphs and it's frankly impossible to write a biography of him. This book provides the reader with a clear, entertaining and easily digestible exposition of the events that stretch from the sack of Rome by Alaric in AD 410 to the death of the Gothic king Theoderic a little more than a hundred years later during which time the western empire and its mighty army just evaporated. There's little new here but readers exploring this period for the first time will find it a lot easier-going than ploughing through Gibbon. There's some judicious speculation about Romulus' later years but the boy, who was never anything more than a teenage puppet, and the man he became, remain inevitably ciphers. The epoch was important, not Romulus himself. The only part of this book I didn't much care for was the final chapter in which the author explores the appearance of Romulus and the other main dramatis personae of the period such his father Orestes and Attila the Hun in art, music and literature. Partial as I am to paintings, novels, films and mini-series on classical themes, I found the chapter overlong and not especially enlightening, in fact it seemed to pad out a relatively slender book. For the new student anxious to learn more about this period it would surely have been better to round things off with a summary account of the ruinous Gothic wars that brought to an end the relatively benign Gothic rule that followed the reign of Romulus and which mark the moment when the curtain finally came down on the late antique world.
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