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on 14 March 2009
This book describes the interaction between the two Roman and the Hunnish Empires (and the other major factions at that time, such as the Goths). Dr Kelly makes clear the strategic reasons WHY each of the protagonists took the course of action they did. It includes recent archeological research which brings the book right up to date with current thinking.

This book reads well as a narrative account of the successive invasions of the Roman Empires by the Huns in the 4th-5th century. The primary sources are drawn upon to show that Attila, far from being a thug, was the leader of a complex and sophisticated society which, however, did not survive him.
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on 14 July 2010
I bought this book a little while ago and have recently reread it I enjoyed it so much. As someone who's been bought up with the notion that Attila the Hun was little more than a thuggish neanderthal this work totally changed my view of him. Instead, the author shows the Hunnish empire as more influenced by Rome than determined to be its antithesis.

Using Byzantine sources, I was taken into the very heart of Attila's world and totally surprised by it, not least the Huns adroit political and diplomatic cunning. I particularly enjoyed the section on the botched attempt on Attila's life by Byzantine agents under the orders of a particularly well described and thoroughly unpleasant sounding eunuch of the empires court.

A refreshing new look at the Barbarian leader, which is far more convincing than the usual tale of brutish primitives in mouse skin clothes eating raw meat. Highly recommended.
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on 9 March 2016
This is a very academic, conservative account of Attila the Hun and his history, lacking contemporary sources. For a start he spends a whole chapter telling the reader what scholars apparently do not know. What he fails to mention is that horseback archery was commonly used by the Persians/Parthians (the 'parting shot' derivers from 'the Parthian shot' whereby a Parthian horseback archer would stand up in his stirrups(yes they had those at least 500 years before Medieval Europe) and shoot backwards at a pursuing mounted enemy. The Romans were well familiar with horseback archery from their Persian campaigning since 53BC (Battle of Carrhae) so about 400 years before Attila. The possibility of Hunnic-Persian collusion interaction is not mentioned. Given that the Romans were obliged to abandon their Persian campaign to deal with the Hunnic threat this kind of joint stratagem is at least possible. However what I find most bizarre is that, given this book was written in 2015, the author fails to mention a most significant source of contemporary information on horseback archery. He goes to lengths to tell us what little can be gleaned from ancient sources about the Hunnic bow and its use. What he omits is any reference to the Hungarian Lajos Kassai and his Horseback Archery revival, dating from the 1980s. His school of horseback archery is now established as a living contemporary version of ancient/medieval archery. His achievements are on You Tube and in the Guinness book of records. H knows from practice more about horseback archery than anyone since the medieval era. Yet the book contains no reference to him.
However another author John Man makes specific reference to Lajos. So I would recommend John Man's version over this.
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on 27 October 2010
I must admit that I did not gain much new information from this book, as the period of human history is a old acquaintance of mine from many previous books dealing with the fall of the West-Rome, which just happens to be one of the favorite subjects for surprising number of historians.
There is still an aura of mystery surrounding the fall of the millennium-old empire, that fall of Persian empire, of the great Chinese empires or the fall of even greater Mongol empire have never achieved.

It was more of a refresher course on the happenings during the fall of western Roman Empire. There is not a lot of analysis of the reasons for the happenings and motives of the players. The narrative is quite straightforward and well written, however and the book can well be recommend to those who have no or little knowledge of the era.
The funniest part is that at times Christopher Kelly engages in detailed analysis on the motives of different Roman writers connected with the story of Attila, but he recounts the funny stories of all kinds religious miracles without even hinting that they just could be made up to glorify and protect the newfangled state religion of the Roman empire. On the other hand he well may think that the reader should have a head on their shoulders and see through these stories by themselves.

However, I think that this kind of politeness by the historians towards the religious fanatics of the old times in one of the things that was created the warped relationship some people do have with religions.
On one people well know that these things just can't be true, but when they see intelligent and learned people treating them with silk cloves I fear that just can't help themselves thinking that must be something to it, as they just don't understand how historians at times just are steering clear out of possible controversies with religious people.

Attila The Hun: A Barbarian King and the Fall of Rome
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on 31 August 2013
A lot is said about Attila and his life, his life as a child in a Roman town, perhaps AQUILEIA.

The author also goes into the relationship had with Aetius the Roman General, and he
States that Aetius gifted the lands in present day Hungary to Attila. He also states that
Aetius could have completely destroyed Atillas army at Chalons but he did not do so.

The following year ATTILLA marches into the Roman Empire and destroys many towns,
Including AQUILEIA. What he does not go into enough detail is why he was not opposed by
Aetius at this time?

AQUILEIA was so very rich and strong, and so well defended, but little is said about the siege,
Who commanded the Roman City how large was the Roman troop deployment in AQUILEIA all
These facts are missing.

No mention is made of what was being done by the Romans to deal with this march by Attila to Rome,
Other than that he decided to turn back after his meeting with Pope Leo close to Mantova. Is there no document
Prepared by the religious authority at the time documenting this event and stating what was said?

We have it on record that Bishop Ambrose when asked by the population of AQUILEIA why the synagogues were burnt down in AQUILEIA, replied by saying it was "Divine providence".

Peter Marshall
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on 20 January 2016
Chris Kelly is upfront about the lack of historical resources relating to Attila, but presents what IS known lucidly and indeed occasionally entertainingly. The point of a good history book is to change your perception of a person or event by giving you the facts you don't actually know, and this book succeeds admirably in that task. One is left with the distinct impression that Attila was a lot more complex - and competent - than most people think.
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on 7 February 2010
I was most disappointed, I wanted to understand more about Atilla and his tribe. This book is about Romans and more like a shallow, slow text book. Atilla and his gang are hardly mentioned and then only superficially.I gave up about 3/4 through so perhaps the last 1/4 has more in it.

I have no idea why the author has put Atilla in the title.

Gave it one star because the system won't allow a zero.
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on 5 February 2013
This book has met my expectations and I would recommend it to any history lover who may be interested in the fall of the Roman Empire.
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on 18 October 2008
I was hoping this book would be a good follow-up to Alessandro Barbero's 'The Day of the Barbarians' but I was terribly disappointed.

Even though chronologically this book continues the narrative post Adrianople AD 378, it lacks the exciting narrative of the aforementioned title. Often, the author would digress and focus on some archeological find. I found this irritating to say the least.
Another annoying feature of this book was the tendency not to recount concurrent events in the same vein but in diffent chapters.

On the plus side there were some interesting parts: the activities of Galla Placida, Honoria and General Aetius in the Western Roman Empire; the Goths, Vandals plus the intrigues in Constantinople.

This book could have been much better if less attention was paid to archeology and the experiences of the main source on Attila and his Huns - Priscus of Panium - and more focus on delivering a smooth and enjoyable narrative.
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