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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars empire and barbarians
A very good book, but hard-going at first. I
t is aimed at experienced readers of history, and demands a determined approach to get through this complex subject. The wide-ranging nature of the topic does mean that there is more repetition than normal, but at least the difficult points eventually "go home".

Yes, it could be shorter and for this reason and...
Published on 6 Aug 2010 by gaskell

versus
20 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dire
The publisher should be hanging its head in shame. This book is very poorly written - but exceptionally badly edited. In the space of just four pages the phrase 'as we have already seen' appears 11 times! The same phrase appears dozens of times throughout the book. It is repetitive, ungrammatical and makes an interesting topic unreadable. Hopefully a competent author...
Published on 12 July 2010 by Sugelanren


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars empire and barbarians, 6 Aug 2010
This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
A very good book, but hard-going at first. I
t is aimed at experienced readers of history, and demands a determined approach to get through this complex subject. The wide-ranging nature of the topic does mean that there is more repetition than normal, but at least the difficult points eventually "go home".

Yes, it could be shorter and for this reason and that of repetition, it is not as good as his other book "Fall of the Roman Empire". However, those new to the subject should probably read the latter, and perhaps John Man's "Attila the Hun" first.

The variety of comparisons with modern history is illuminating and lightens the mood when things are getting tough. I enjoyed it very much, as it covered a number of subjects which have concerned me for some time - as a keen, non-academic historian, I could not put the book down.

However, my copy is now heavily edited with pencil-notes to make life easier when I read it again, which I will. Thank you, Peter Heather, for the experience - well worth it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sequel to Heather's The Fall of the Roman Empire, 3 April 2011
By 
Arch Stanton (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
This is a really long book. There are 734 pages which makes it over a hundred pages longer than his previous book The Fall of the Roman Empire. Before I go any further I want to strongly recommend that book. I think that it is one of the best books on the subject available. This one serves as sort of a companion to that one. While that book is pretty much exclusively from the Roman point of view, this book is told from the point of view of the Barbarians. Actually two sets of Barbarians. While his first book had a fairly limited timeframe (4th Century to 5th Century) this one deals with a much wider space of time (4th Century to 10th Century). This means that it goes through information much faster. The biggest problem with this book is something that the author can't do anything about. There just aren't many sources available on the barbarian tribes. There is a lot more guesswork and maybes in this book than his previous one. It's also much harder to read. It's main purpose isn't just to relate the Fall of Rome from the Barbarian point of view or to narrate the end of Rome and the Dark Ages, it's a bit of both and it isn't satisfactory for either. The focus is on analyzing the migrations and formation of tribes during the Late Roman and early Middle Ages. This can be interesting but it is essentially a more specialized topic than either of the others would be. There is a lot of information here, and the book itself is well written like all of Heather's work, but the whole thing is just too specific to maintain my interest for over 600 pages. Nonetheless, it remains an informative book and it is certainly worth a read if you have the patience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Empires and Barbarians, 27 Jan 2012
By 
F. Papadopoulos (Greece) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
A rare combination of great erudition and exciting story telling. This is one of the happy instances where cohesion is not sacrificed to comprehension. Thought provoking and surprising contemporary too; I was depressed when I discovered the close parallels of the patterns of behaviour of the Greek political system vis a vis the European Union with those of barbarian chieftains towards the Roman empire. All in all, I've spent a great summer holiday with this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond both Völkerwanderung and "Elite transfer", 29 May 2013
By 
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
The received wisdom concerning the fragmentation of the Western Roman Empire has undergone a total volte-face over the last century. From Völkerwanderungen, movements of entire peoples wearing furs and horned helmets violently invading Roman territory and carrying out ethnic cleansing, we are now expected to believe in "Elite transfers", small numbers of immigrants who came peacefully and amicably and took control with the full approval and cheerful willingness of the locals, and who apparently so impressed these indigenous populations that they all wanted to walk and talk like their new wonderful, kindly and not-at-all-oppressive rulers. This view is invariably accompanied by much sociological cant around concepts of "class", "status" and "identity" - the latter, so we are supposed to accept, being something which whole communities of mid-first-millennium peasants could and did suddenly change at the drop of a hat.

When there are two such opposed viewpoints, you can be sure that the truth is to be found midway between the two. Peter Heather, combining literary sources, archaeology and modern understanding of population movement and change, partially accepts some of the contemporary ideas, but persuasively argues for large scale migrations having often played a part in the changes across Europe in the period c. 400-1000. As Heather drily notes about the Slavs for example, but which equally applies to all the other invaders of the period, "Their military effectiveness makes it extremely improbable that [the changes] came about just because the indigenous populations thought it would be great to become a Slav."

It's a huge book, often repetitive, and certainly fairly hard going, but it's a well argued presentation and an extremely important contribution to the understanding of this period of European history.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 2 Sep 2010
This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
This book was so much needed. It is the fruit of decades of research. More importantly it takes a fresh look at the material, unhampered by the post-war, post-imperial, nationalist zeitgeist. For decades prehistorians and protohistorians have fought the idea that our modern nation states were created out of mixtures of people, who arrived at different times. There has been a yearning for simplicity, and ethnicities that can be traced back to the year dot. In the 21st century migration is back on the menu. This is just one of several seminal books to be published in the last few years that face up to complex reality.

Yet the book is no polemic. It is wonderfully well written and thoroughly enjoyable.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but very poorly edited., 21 Sep 2010
This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
I think no one could doubt the author's grasp of his subject, or fault his tenacity in the face of political correctness and ideological squeamishness. He is thoroughly convincing in his defence of the evidence for large population movements in the first millenium, a concept treated with suspicion (and sometimes subjected to downright lies) by the left. A mindset, of course, which is a left over from the second world war.
However, as has been stated by others, this book is really badly edited and repetitive. How many times does the author feel the need to say the same thing? In every section? And every chapter? It would seem too many, when the editors are not doing their job properly. At times one feels like tearing one's hair out! Although, once subjected to the same idea stated innumerate times, one cannot fail but to remember it - but what a price to pay in frustration and mental fatigue!
I don't know anything about book publishing, but surely if this book had been trimmed to avoid such repitition, the ideas therein would be much more accessible, and the reading process less taxing. The book might even sell better. As it is, the sheer volume of this tome must surely be off-putting in bookshops.
Still, the author deserves much credit for sticking to his guns in the face of such politically motivated opposition to his ideas. Let's hope this book represents a return to honesty in the subject matter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Empires & Barbarians, 16 Feb 2014
By 
Claude Medeot (London, ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
I haven't yet finished it, but it views this period in time quite differently than how history was always written from the Roman side.
Actually, from what I have read it's a bit frightening to realise that history is repeating itself - wake up Europe.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hard read but a very interesting and informative book, 21 Nov 2012
This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
Being an amateur reader, I bought this book a while ago and it stayed on my shelf for a while.
When I got decided to read it, I had a quick glance at some reviews and got a bit nervous before reading it.

I would say that most of the previous reviews are from my point of view very accurate.

Firstly, the book is quite large, app 650 pages and I would unfortunately say not easily readable for the layman.
Mainly because the author spends quite a lot time describing the various debate on current theories and goes quite far into details.
He repeats himself quite a lot and all of this makes the book arduous to read.
So, I am not sure for who this book is intended to? So potential readers, be aware.

Despite the above, I made an effort to carry on reading and in the end, I must say I was quite happy.
I did learn a lot and understood new concepts about migrations, settlement, relation with Rome, etc. that did not really grasped before.
Finally, the Third law of empire is a very intersting idea.

In my views, what Peter Heather succeeds the most is to convey us these theories and concepts but a bit of editing would have been welcome by triming a good quarter of the book.

I picked up a few mistakes such as the date of the Teutoberg Wald battle which from previous readings understood to be AD 9?

Overall, It is a very decent and interesting book but be aware that it may not be easy to read although the effort is from my point of view worth it.
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20 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dire, 12 July 2010
This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
The publisher should be hanging its head in shame. This book is very poorly written - but exceptionally badly edited. In the space of just four pages the phrase 'as we have already seen' appears 11 times! The same phrase appears dozens of times throughout the book. It is repetitive, ungrammatical and makes an interesting topic unreadable. Hopefully a competent author will take up the challenge and write a book one third of the size in a readable and professional format. Author and publisher of this book have obviously just gone for the money and run.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness it's finished, 3 Oct 2010
This review is from: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe (Paperback)
Badly edited, repetitive and a painful read. The comprehensive review of the subject matter is unfortunately mired in the complete confusion of the presentation. This is the first book in a long time that I've seriously considered filling away without completing, but now thank goodness finished it. Unlike many of my history books it will not be coming out to be read again...
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