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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review written in 1844
Found in a letter dated 13th February 1844 from my gt-gt-gt-uncle George Mackenzie in India to his sister Alice in Scotland: "Have you ever read Gibbon's Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire? I am very fond of it for many reasons. It is a grand book and to read it always makes me feel as if my life extended thousands instead of tens of years and as if I could trace out...
Published on 22 Aug 2010 by Slioch

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Advert not accurate
This is the third time I have problems with multi-volume books.
The advert on Amazon web site can be misleading. One expect something and receives much less.
The advert states: 1-3 Vol of 3 Vol publication. It is a six Vol publication and what arrived was Vol 3 of the 6 set publication. Even the photo on the advert page was not the one on the cover of the book...
Published 19 months ago by John Smith


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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review written in 1844, 22 Aug 2010
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
Found in a letter dated 13th February 1844 from my gt-gt-gt-uncle George Mackenzie in India to his sister Alice in Scotland: "Have you ever read Gibbon's Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire? I am very fond of it for many reasons. It is a grand book and to read it always makes me feel as if my life extended thousands instead of tens of years and as if I could trace out the revolutions of Empires. It is beautifully written and the English of it is to my taste particularly elegant, and except where Gibbon's judgement was obscured by his prejudice, it is true as history can be. His reasonings from the great events which he relates are generally speaking very true and I have heard that there is hardly a better guide for a politician than that history. What an immensely long duration the time of it is - from the year 90 after Christ till the year 1490 or thereabouts in fact almost down to our own times. It is a great ornament to my bookcase and I often read it & prefer it to any novel whatsoever." So the 5 stars are on behalf of Uncle George who sadly died later in 1844 aged 25.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book, 20 Jun 2008
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
First one thing: do not, on any account, get the abridged version. If I could take one book to a desert island, it would be this one. That's because it is extremely long, and every word of it is worth it.

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire remains as relevant as ever. And this is in spite of its hugely ambitious scope, treating of the history of the Roman and Byzantine empires (both considered Roman by Gibbon) from the end of the 1st century AD to the 15th. Gibbon is a modern historian. He is shrewdly selective of his sources, judiciously reserved, and coldly analytical. He differentiates between proximate and ultimate causes. He has a humanistic but impartial point of view. At the same time, he is an 18th century Englishman. While this is reflected in some of his opinions, such as that the extinction of republican freedom was what determined Rome's decline, it makes them no less valid and often the more interesting; it is hard to imagine anyone today being able to treat the early Christian controversies with the same tact and humour, for example.

And Edward Gibbon wrote like an enchanter. I read somewhere that his style was an inspiration to Churchill. No wonder. Every line of this tome of perhaps a million words is a delight to read. You will laugh out loud. His thought is clear and convincing. And there are simply magical moments, such as when he produces that mythical animal that appeared in the Roman circus, an animal no one in Europe has seen since then... a giraffe. Or the dissertation on whether Europe remains at threat of invasion from the Mongols.

The Decline and Fall is full of telling anecdotes, and yet it always holds to a general picture. It is filled with detail and colour but never loses the reader. It is packed with events, and it offers discussion of longer trends - notably those that participated in Rome's decline and led to its eventual fall - political, religious, military, economic. And it is even more impressive when one thinks of the modern tools its author did not have at his disposal, in particular archaeological and numismatic. Approximately half of the book is dedicated to the Roman Empire proper, up to the late 5th century. This is where Gibbon is at his strongest, his research the most thorough. The rest deals with Byzantium, touching heavily on European history up to the fall of Constantinople, and has a broader sweep. His work ends with a description of Rome as it looks today (i.e. in the late 18th century).

I finished reading my copy (after several happy months) in Rome itself, in a little place with a view of the Pantheon. If you have the luck of being able to do that, you will never forget it.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history, man, 25 May 2011
By 
Dog trainer (failed) (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
It's all very well if you know all about this Roman stuff, but what about the rest of us? The plebs with our noses pushed against the glass, peering enviously into the great shop front of Gibbon's Decline and Fall? We need an edition to clue us in!

And here it is. Right, Womersley's Penguin Classics edition is 'unmodernized' but, unless you're really wired to the moon about Gibbon, the Everyman is perfectly adequate; the text is taken from the famous version edited by J B Bury in seven volumes between 1896 and 1900, and considered for a long time to be definitive. Bury's edition had a whole rake of notes and appendices, mainly of interest only to specialists and many of them superseded by more recent scholarship. The good news is, however, that they aren't included here; the even better news (especially for those of us who don't know how well Gibbon's accuracy or lack of has fared) is that this set includes not only all Gibbon's own footnotes (and half the fun is in them), but also the light annotations prepared by Oliphant Smeaton (crazy name, crazy guy!) for the first Everyman edition (1910) and revised by Christopher Dawson (1936). Ok, the style of these annotations sometimes curiously and wordily patronizes Gibbon, and, of course, scholarship has moved on occasionally, but from them the reader with no particular background, never mind expertise, in Roman history can glean context and, since the notes are mostly restricted to matters of fact, some notion of accuracy. Other than the Bury edition (top heavy, apparently, and strictly for boffins) Everyman seems to be the only one with a later editorial commentary like this. The recent Penguin one comes across as too patrician to stoop that low - you weren't thinking of us droogs, Mr Womersley! Also, and very importantly, footnotes are placed at the bottom of the appropriate page (and not in two columns either, as in the Penguin), so no finicky flicking back and forth.

The hardest bit, if you must think of it that way, is getting used to Gibbon's prose style. He was a man of his time and wrote as an educated man of the C18th would write, which means a long sentence or two. All I can say to anyone who may be put off by this is, please, please, please stick with it for a few chapters before you throw in the towel. It is the most finely wrought prose, full of insight and perception, spiced with wit and droll observations on the folly and vanity of mankind; it resonates powerfully in the mind and you will end up regularly referring back to remind yourself of some wonderfully charming, eloquent or adroit way he has phrased something. True, you'll have to pay attention, but a small outlay of initial concentration reaps a spectular reward. Even if it were not a wonderfully personal, iconic history, it would still be priceless as a simply beautiful thing to read. I got lucky; I persevered, and I'm delighted I did - returning to it is an abiding pleasure, a treat that may predispose you to find most other writers' styles decidedly a bit flat.

Mind you, in these politically correct times Gibbon will annoy - feminists, cultural anthropologists, Christians, and so on, but we wouldn't have him any other way; he is a bit of a loose cannon, and more power to him.

All of this is not to say, by the way, that it isn't a rattling good yarn; it certainly is. He never forgets he is telling a story, and you won't either. Full of detail it may be, and anxious as Gibbon is to show off his massive research and grasp of the sources, the pace doesn't slack - just a pity contemporary mores didn't allow him to dish the dirt a bit more on the peculiarities of some of the fruitcakes who populate the narrative.

Other reasons why this is a great edition:

it is hardback, plainly but elegantly bound in dark green cloth, with simple but stylish dust jackets (cream, black spine, red lettering) ; the binding is stitched, properly sewn in sections so that each volume may be opened flat, for convenience, without damage; excellent paper quality; green ribbon bookmark included. She's built to last, boys. Should advances in medical science significantly extend one's tenure in this vale of tears, you can re-read your copy many times;

each book (it comes in two individually boxed sets of three volumes each) is not much bigger than a B sized paperback, so is easily held and portable (for the beach, man!);

because the work is spread over six volumes the typeface (text and footnotes) is easy to read, unlike the very small print in the Penguin;

also contains: good maps; indices (in vol 3 and vol 6); the original, lovingly detailed and descriptive tables of contents; a couple of erudite essays by Hugh Trevor-Roper; other useful bits and pieces;

Amazon gives a substantial discount.

Now, the disadvantages:

Gibbon employs many Greek and Latin quotations; they aren't translated here (or in the Womersley Penguin edition). This is a small drawback, but it would be nice to know ... ;

and, er, that's it for the disadvantages.

If you still fear getting lost among all those emperors, you could keep to hand a copy of The Fall Of The West: The Death Of The Roman Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy, as a quick refresher to dip into: concise and contemporary, but nowhere near as much crack!

Now, having said all this, you won't be surprised to hear me add that should I ever be marooned on a desert island, and allowed to bring one luxury only, I will, of course, choose Kirsty Young - she may be getting on a bit, but she is still such a doll!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how we became what we are now, 23 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. Roberto Sans "columela" (Malaga, Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
I have just finished the 3 volumes of the first half of "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Gibbon. This is one of the most important books I have ever read. There is nothing superfluous or uninteresting in this huge opus. The description of how a very organised, civilised and rich society came to an end is as passionating as it is frightening in the times in which we live. Much of what Gibbon wrote about is happening now in our society, the rise of intolerant religion, the movement of different peoples from what it was then the third world to the most prosperous society of the Romans, the lack of civil spirit.The book in itself is written in a marvelous witty and grandiose style which is very becoming to this kind of subject. I found the footnotes very ironic or really sarcastic. I am now in the fourth volume and as soon as I finish it I will feel very happy of having had the inmense luck of finding such an extraordinary book which has deeply influenced me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-Travelling with Gibbon, 23 Mar 2013
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
This review is of a six volume Everyman's edition, which says on its flyleaf first published in 1910 and reprinted in 1960. It has Dawson's introduction and notes along with Gibbon's.

I should say that I read the first three volumes fairly carefully and about half of the fourth, being interested in Justinian and Belisarius but losing interest in the latest adventures of the Goths and Persians. After that I stopped.

It took me several months to read even as much as I did, and I think there were several reasons for this.

1) Gibbon wrote more than two hundred years ago, from a vantage point before the industrial revolution, before modern democracy. Culturally speaking he was far closer to the Roman Empire than we are, and also far less entrenched in the arid rule-of-science mindset than we are today. Nevertheless, living as he did towards the end of the `Age of Reason', his elegant scepticism (not without some devotional aspects) benefited from the earlier influences of the scientific revolution, which allowed him to revere the logic of the classical era and adopt a mixture of piety and scepticism in regard to Christianity.

This viewpoint allows a much fresher take and a much less dry one on Roman history than any modern historian I have read, you can hear him licking his lips as another Emperor rolls into view to be dissected and pinned to his pages.

However this approach takes some getting used to, and to some extent so does the eighteenth century idiom, although that aside Gibbon is highly readable.

2) The other reason Gibbon was slow going for me was that his ideas require a lot of thought and time to absorb. In particular I found what he had to say about the early years of Christianity fascinating. Up until AD300 when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Empire, what impressed me, despite Gibbon's earnest efforts to downplay unverified stories of martyrdom, was how much the Christians suffered persecution. Not all the time, and not by every Emperor, but for nearly three hundred years they were driven from pillar to post, and if there was a favourable emperor, he was probably only favourable to one sect of the religion. Countless thousands lost their lives, or their livelihoods, or their place of habitation when all they had to do was to deny their faith at a time when they had nothing but their own peers to support them.

Gibbon doesn't really discuss how it was they managed to achieve this however.

What then happened of course, was that after Christianity became accepted, all the energy the Christians had put into survival got turned into fighting each other with incredible ferocity as they argued out the exact status of the holy trinity. Massacres, torture and persecution just as they had suffered from the Romans were now applied to each other, along with endless high level conferences.

Gibbon regards himself as a participant rather than just an observer in this debate, a position quite different I feel to that of any modern historian, but speaking as he does with a constant flow of elegant and not infrequently wicked irony, we are left to infer his views.

I also enjoyed his portrayal of Justinian, Theodora and Belisarius, three amazing characters.

One day I may go back and read the rest, but I think I have enough to think about for a few years!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Advert not accurate, 14 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
This is the third time I have problems with multi-volume books.
The advert on Amazon web site can be misleading. One expect something and receives much less.
The advert states: 1-3 Vol of 3 Vol publication. It is a six Vol publication and what arrived was Vol 3 of the 6 set publication. Even the photo on the advert page was not the one on the cover of the book received. A further misleading point is the number of pages. What is quoted is the number of the WHOLE 6 volume set.
Amazon should have a stricter policy regarding the adverts placed on its web site regarding multi-volume books.
Be aware of multi-volume books.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not About Book Content - Packaging, 1 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
I have read abridged versions of this work previously and bought both this and the second set of volumes. I ordered them new so the quality of the books would be guaranteed, however, it was sent in fairly shoddy condition. I understand that books are difficult to send in pristine condition, but both volumes were sent in vastly different conditions as part of the same package. This set's box and wrapper was ripped, the book covers were bent, a sticker was placed on the box unlike the other set's and the books were in the wrong way and in a different order to what I have seen in internet pictures (though this doesn't cause damage it did make me wonder what happened when this was being prepared.) I suspect that, whilst preparing this set, the wrapper came off and the books were shoved in and sent in that state. I bought them from Amazon for precisely the reason that their packaging is usually very reliable but this was seriously shoddy. When a set costs this not insignificant amount, you expect a bit better. If buying this set, one should be wary that such issues are possible and this is merely a cautionary review as I suspect that such issues are minimal and against the norm.
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15 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A (distant) landmark in historical literature, 9 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire: Vols 1-3: 3 Volume Set (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
Definitely worth having as a resource, to dip into; you'd have to be determined to read it from cover to cover. Detail like this must have been very hard to obtain and collate before the present day, and Gibbon is keen to show off his efforts and the breadth of his knowledge.
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