Customer Reviews


41 Reviews
5 star:
 (32)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling account of the fall of Rome
This is a book which is as every bit of epic as its subject matter. Peter Heather writes in an accessible, easy-to-follow manner making this book ideal for the layperson, scholar and student. Rather than seeing the end of the western Roman Empire as a result of internal decline and internecine warfare (the Edward Gibbon approach), Heather argues that the Empire fell due...
Published on 4 Sep 2008 by Matthew Turner

versus
63 of 80 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fall of Rome - or the Rise of the Barbarians?
At the outset let me say this book is the product of a great deal of research and learning. It is very professional and well written. There are very useful appendices and text notes. The problem is - it isn't exactly about the fall of the Roman Empire.
There are very detailed accounts of the culture and movements of the various 'barbarian' (ie...
Published on 2 Feb 2006


Most Helpful First | Newest First

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best history book on the fall of the Roman Empire ..., 12 Sep 2014
By 
The best history book on the fall of the Roman Empire so far. It fills many gaps but not all of them, still it's the best we have for now on that subject.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 20 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good book with interesting facts. Very good for research and general education about the Roman Empire and its fall. I thoroughly recommend.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too academic for my taste., 4 May 2014
By 
Brian Harris (Olney, Bucks) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Packed full of facts, but does not grab the reader by the arm. I hope he continues to write because he obviously knows his stuff.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly retelling of the Decline and Fall, 4 Oct 2006
By 
Tim62 "history buff" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Do we need yet another book on the Fall of the Roman Empire? The answer on reading Peter Heather's masterly re-telling of the ending of Roman rule in western Europe in period 378-476 AD is an emphatic 'yes!'

Peter Heather cleverly and carefully shows that the Roman Empire had not, on the eve of the first of the 'barbarian' invasions in the late 370s AD, sown the seeds of its own destruction.

So what was it that led to the fall of Rome?

Were the peasants taxed too heavily, and as a consequence did land go out of production because it wasn't economic to till it, and did this lead to a shortfall in the imperial coffers? No, late Roman rural populations were probably as high or higher than they had ever been.

Was it the fact that the upper classes, the curiales, had withdrawn from local government? Certainly it's true local government was no longer as autonomous as it had been under the early empire and finances were now centrally controlled. Local politics was no longer a fun as it had once been. But Heather shows that many upper class aristocrats re-invented themselves as imperial bureaucrats in the expanding bureaucracy.

So were there too many bureaucrats and not enough farmers/soldiers? In fact the costs of all those civil servants were not as burdensome as some have previously thought. The Roman armies generally retained their fighting abilities, the Germans were not a significant military threat.

However, what happened in Germania beyond the borders was the development of regional groupings of peoples, where - fuelled by improvements in agricultural and productivity of land - there were population increases and a growth in competition for resources.

What did do for the Empire in the west, was the three main waves of 'barbarian' invasions, largely triggered by folk movements way beyond the Roman frontiers; movements of peoples caused, by Attila and his Huns. Cometh the hour, cometh the Hun....

The Goths, Vandals, Alans, Suevi and all the rest were looking for a litle bit of lebensraum inside the frontiers of the Roman empire - and they had the military muscle - thanks to those economic improvements in the barbarian economies - to get it.

So why couldn't the Romans kick them out? And how come the eastern Roman empire survived while the western half went down 1-0 in 476 AD after extra time?

Crucially the west Roman state lost control of its economically vital North African provinces which financially weakened it - drastically reducing the army it could afford to pay for. That smaller army could no longer kick out the barbarians with out OTHER barbarian support. For a while, ironically, they were able to use the Huns to help out. But when the Hunnic empire itself collapsed in the wake of Attila's death the so-called barbarians nations inside the territories of the western Roman state were able to make their settlements permanent.

But did the Empire strike back? The Eastern and Western Roman empires did come together to mount a hugely expensive campaign to kick out the Vandals. It bust the treasury at Constantinople, but it was a disaster, the Roman fleet was knocked for six by the Vandals, and neither Rome (or by this time Ravenna) or Constantinople had another shot left in their lockers.

After that it was Game Over for Rome in the west, and all that remained was for the last Roman to leave the Senate House to turn out the lights.

Okay, that last bit is slight exaggeration -- the successor states were keen to adopt as much of Roman civilisation as they could, and the Ostrogothic Italian kingdom was certainly no bunch of hairy grunting barbarians.

So Civilisation and Democracy died and the Lights of Civilisation went out and people blundered into the Dark Ages?

Not quite. The late Roman state was a one-party state where everybody had to toe the party line with extravagant praise for the Emperor.

Think of a cross between Stalin's Russia and Mao's China, except with togas. I doubt everybody was all that sad to see it go. Certainly not the great mass of peasantry.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary but flawed, 21 Oct 2007
While this is not a bad history I would echo some points made by other reviewers here; not so much about The Fall of Rome as The Rise of the Barbarians and marred by some inaccuracies, would-be hip phrases and chapter headings and particularly by suppositions being referred to as facts. It is also over-long and suffers a tendency to digression in places. For those wishing to delve into the fall of the empire in the west it would be preferable to begin with Michael Grant's excellent 'The Fall of the Roman Empire' and Arthur Ferrill's 'The Fall of the Roman Empire - The Military Explanation'. Heather is particularly weak on military aspects and an understanding of these is crucial as to why the Western Roman Empire fell. Incidentally, Ferrill and Grant are both conspicuously absent from Heather's bibliography...now why is that I wonder? All that aside, as a history of the rise of the barbarians this is still quite good and as such is not so much a new history as a return to older theories that the empire fell primarily due to external rather than internal pressures. Do read this by all means - but after Grant and Ferrill!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, but what did the Romans ever.....?, 16 Aug 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is a very good start to reading about this period even if one wishes to explore further, as the book is readable, detailed and well-written; I found the humour (as in "Thrace: the final frontier") not misplaced and it added to the enjoyment.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping and informative account, 2 Nov 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My sixteen year old son was gripped. He considers this book to be of similar quality to the works of Tom Holland (high praise indeed). Professor Heather manages to keep your attention while enlightening the reader to the political and social context of the late Roman Empire.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great narrative history.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Detailed but not perfect..., 25 Nov 2005
By 
Dnomal "dnomal" (England, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
When i first saw this book i thought it would sucessessed were others had failed in telling the stroy AND explaining part of the reason of the wests collapse.
This book as i said earlier is very detailed, the first chapter casually discusses the rise of the pre-imperial empire explaining its faults and weakeenses and attempts to explain why the Romans never conquered Germania in the early imperial period. Then the book continues by discribing the politicall and military events from 376 A.D onwards. This contines untill the year 476 the year of the Empire's collapse (WESTERN). Ther book also describes individual yet significant lives of information in both cruciall periods and to show the oversall fabric of the Empire. This is very interesting hearing from real people will make a real break from the extensive list of events.
Now the bad news, the book spends hundreds of pages describing the events that lead to the West's downfall. But the answer to the question you are burning to ask is "But WHY did it fall!" now this is described, the authour's opinons atleast. I won't ruin his theorey for you.
But the length of the explanation is what annoys me, its only a single chapter, a mere 15-20 pages, which may seem large but in a book this long and comprehensive it seems a bit of a sidenote, even though the book claims to be devoted to this.
But I'm nit picking, in all honesty the description of events and focus on individual lives is fantastic. The maps of the empires construction and demise and a glossary so extensive it boggles the mind.
If you are even remotely interested in the Roman empire or even just the history of Europe this is the book for you, especially because the author mentions events centuries after and centuries after the Empire.
Overall fantastic despite a few minor faults, i hope another book is in the works.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a review by Bart Helk a renowned historian, 2 Jan 2007
By 
It was a long time ago that i stumbled upon this in an airport infact! i thought hmmmm another book on the fall of the roman empire. Do we need this? after buying it and reading it on the plane it seemed we did need this! it is the best book i gave read in a long time infact it was one of the best ever! the way it was masterly crafted and weaved into not just another boring old history book but an altogether fabulous story!! The way Heather mixes a wonderful pool of knowledge with an envigorating spirit for stoytelling is divine! Two thumbs up from me and the rest of the Hartford History Facility

Bart Helk

Hartford University
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews