7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful book with a few drawbacks,
This review is from: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I just finished reading Volume 1 (which, strangely enough, contains the original volumes I and II), and I have mixed feelings.
Pros: It is extremely comprehensive. Furthermore, Gibbon does a masterly job of explaining not only the actions of the emperors, but their motives. I also enjoyed how he occasionally stepped out of character to explain what profound long lasting consequences certain decisions had on the eventual decline of the empire.
Cons: I was somewhat disappointed he did not even mention the Kingdom, the Republic, Caesar or the battle of Actium. I thought a little back story would have gone a long way to set up a context. My biggest gripe was with the haphazard approach to describing history. This becomes especially profound when he begins discussing the church. At that point, it begins to feel as if two books were merged into one. Finally, I feel like I will walk away from this book thinking that the Germanic tribes were ultimately evil, and the Romans were divinely just. His bias also spilled over to the Persians, which he time and time again labeled as 'barbarians', when it was evident that every war was initiated by the Romans.
I really wanted to give this book 5 stars, but the pacing was all over the place. It was so intensely suspenseful when he was discussing a battle, or even the contributions of each emperor to the Roman constitution. Then when he got to the church the pacing was so tediously slow that I didn't even want to pick the book up.