8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A good introduction to Byzantine history,
This review is from: A Short History of Byzantium (Paperback)
This was a very exciting, and pacy, introduction to Byzantine history, from its inception in AD330 by Constantine the Great to Constantinople's capture by the Ottomans in 1453. True, this is not scholarship and only skirts over the surface of Byzantium's long and complex history, but I do not see any problem with that. The author states in the introduction that he makes no claim to scholarship.
What Norwich does provide though is an exciting chronological narrative of Byzantium. To fit over one thousand years of history into one relatively small book is an admirable achievement. As already stated, this book should primarily be used as a primer, or introduction, to Byzantine history, before moving on to more scholarly and in-depth studies. Norwich here provides a basic narrative, with little or no analysis. However, this is compensated by the pacy, friendly style of writing, in which the reader is given an endless list of emperors, patriarchs, battles and sieges (especially of Contantinople). Indeed, the overwhelming impression given is one of Byzantium's constant struggle for survival.
Highlights are the glorious reigns of Justinian, Basil II and Heraclius. I would have have liked more analysis of these interesting characters and their reigns, as well as the Iconoclastic Controversy of the eighth century.
All in all recommended as a good introduction to Byzantine studies.