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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder Mystery Solved? Highly Probable, 2 July 2007
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This review is from: The Night Attila Died: Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun (Hardcover)
Dr. Michael Babcock makes a compelling case that Attila the Hun did not die of natural causes - a nosebleed - but instead was murdered. Given the lifestyle Attila led, the liklihood of murder is a much higher probability in any case, than natural causes ... Like a modern detective the author examines the key players who had something to gain by Attila's death. He discovers the clues obtained from historical documents, some of which were altered in an attempt to mislead anyone who was looking for evidence, but just enough detail is left that points to an assasination plot which succeeded.

The author suspected something was amiss in the generally accepted explanations for Attila's death when he was a student of philology (the study of reconstructing the past from words, taking into consideratin culture, history, phonetics and graphics). The author read the detailed account of Attila's death initially in the book "Gothic History" by Jordanes which included a tightly constructed explanation filled with precise details ... however the account was written a hundred years after Attila's death. It was written based on a historical document left by Priscus, a Fifth Century historian and diplomat. Priscus had attended Attila's court in 449 A.D. and a detailed description of this event survived in his autobiography. Unfortunately, Priscus's account of Attila's death did not survive, the only thing which remained was the second hand version written by Jordanes ...

The most fascinating information contained within this book is how the politics of the past are revealed. At the time, the Roman Empire was separated into East and West: Marcinion was Emperor in the East and Valintinian III ruled as Emperor of Rome. Rome was losing some of its provinces as new nations in Europe were born from their ashes. Each of the two Empires had reasons to see Attila dead ... The book captures the imagination of the reader taking one back to ancient times. The reader's eyes are openedas to how different factions influenced and swayed each Empire and how power was wielded behind the scenes by those who could manipulate events to their own advantage. Whether or not the author is correct can not be factually proven but he provides enough information to make a great case for his side. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attila occiditur, 25 July 2005
By 
William Holmes "semloh2287" (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Night Attila Died: Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun (Hardcover)
The classic story of Attila's death was handed down by the historian Jordanes in his "Gothic History," written in Constantinople about 100 years after Attila died. According to this narrative, Attila married a Germanic princess, Ildico, enjoyed a wild night of drunken revelry, and retired to his bed with his new bride. The next day, his guards found him dead with Ildico weeping by his side--he had evidently drowned from a nosebleed during his drunken stupor.
Not a very flattering ending for the Scourge of God--and that, according to Babcock, is exactly the point. The author uses his skills as a philologist to explore the ancient texts and what they have to say about Attila's life and, ultimately, his death. It turns out there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that Jordanes wasn't telling the truth. Babcock theorizes that Attila was murdered, possibly in revenge for the death of Bleda (the Hun's elder brother) and almost certainly with the complicity of the eastern and western Roman empires. And once Attila was gotten rid of, the historians and their powerful patrons conspired to make sure that his death would be remembered as a humiliating one, the better to discourage those who would attack the divinely protected Roman world.
The conclusion that Attila was murdered is not all that surprising--he was a violent man in a violent time, and the traditional story of his demise sounds too much like a fable with a moral attached. After all, if you're a powerful, warlike Hun, what could be worse than to die in the comfort of your bed rather than on the battlefield?
But it doesn't matter whether you ultimately agree with Babcock that Attila was murdered--what's enjoyable about "The Night Attila Died" is the journey through ancient texts and Wagnerian operas, through half-remembered legends and the detritus of time. From the standpoint of his prospective victims, the method of Attila's death was less important than the critical fact that "Attila died." For the rest of us, there's an intriguing murder mystery here with lots of clues--shifty suspects, questionable motives, lots of people with opportunity, and plenty of self-serving testimony. Attila's death was and is a great story, and Babcock has done a nice job of telling it.
For further reading about the Huns and their depradations, consider Patrick Howarth's "Attila, King of the Huns: The Man and the Myth" (short and readable) and Hugh Kennedy's "Mongols, Huns and Vikings," which does a great job of explaining why nomads like the Huns were such effective warriors--and how and why civilized societies were ultimately able to defeat them.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attila occiditur, 29 July 2005
By 
William Holmes "semloh2287" (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Night Attila Died: Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun (Hardcover)
The classic story of Attila's death was handed down by the historian Jordanes in his "Gothic History," written in Constantinople about 100 years after Attila died. According to this narrative, Attila married a Germanic princess, Ildico, enjoyed a wild night of drunken revelry, and retired to his bed with his new bride. The next day, his guards found him dead with Ildico weeping by his side--he had evidently drowned from a nosebleed during his drunken stupor.
Not a very flattering ending for the Scourge of God--and that, according to Babcock, is exactly the point. The author uses his skills as a philologist to explore the ancient texts and what they have to say about Attila's life and, ultimately, his death. It turns out there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that Jordanes wasn't telling the truth. Babcock theorizes that Attila was murdered, possibly in revenge for the death of Bleda (the Hun's elder brother) and almost certainly with the complicity of the eastern and western Roman empires. And once Attila was gotten rid of, the historians and their powerful patrons conspired to make sure that his death would be remembered as a humiliating one, the better to discourage those who would attack the divinely protected Roman world.
The conclusion that Attila was murdered is not all that surprising--he was a violent man in a violent time, and the traditional story of his demise sounds too much like a fable with a moral attached. After all, if you're a powerful, warlike Hun, what could be worse than to die in the comfort of your bed rather than on the battlefield?
But it doesn't matter whether you ultimately agree with Babcock that Attila was murdered--what's enjoyable about "The Night Attila Died" is the journey through ancient texts and Wagnerian operas, through half-remembered legends and and the detritus of time. From the standpoint of his prospective victims, the method of Attila's death was less important than the critical fact that "Attila died." For the rest of us, there's an intriguing murder mystery here with lots of clues--shifty suspects, questionable motives, lots of people with opportunity, and plenty of self-serving testimony. Attila's death was and is a great story, and Babcock has done a nice job of telling it.
For further reading about the Huns and their depradations, consider Patrick Howarth's "Attila, King of the Huns: The Man and the Myth" (short and readable) and Hugh Kennedy's "Mongols, Huns and Vikings," which does a great job of explaining why nomads like the Huns were such effective warriors--and how and why civilized societies were ultimately able to defeat them.
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The Night Attila Died: Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun
The Night Attila Died: Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun by Michael A. Babcock (Hardcover - July 2005)
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