Byzantium: The Decline and Fall v. 3 Hardcover – 5 Oct 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is actually the final volume of the Byzantium trilogy by the same author, which covers all the over 1000 years of history of the Byzantine empire.
Readers who have already read the previous volumes already know how enjoyable and informative they are: the third volume adds to the virtues of the first two parts a tragic - at times pathetic - tone: this is the history of an agony, starting with the fall of the Comneni dinasty and extending over two centuries, during which the Byzantine empire is progressively reduced in its size, depleted of its riches, divided by internal strifes. It is a sad history indeed: and Julius Norwich is a master in striking a perfect balance between the need to give a serious account of a decline which has manifold causes, and that of keeping the reader involved in the narration.
He succeeds perfectly: at the end of the book you will know why Byzantium fell, and at the same you will feel sorry for it, after having ventured into the captivating account of the last siege by Mehmet the Conqueror (although this part of the book is basically a summary of Professor Runciman's previous work, as acknowledged by Norwich himself).
Finally, as suggested by other reviewers, I would recommend if possible NOT to buy the one-volume synopsis of Norwich's trilogy: don't be put off by the size of the three volumes, they are thoroughly enjoyable! Go for the big read!
From it's opening through to Mehmet "The conqueror" praying in Hagia Sophia, the spiritual heart of the empire, the whole book brings to life the death of Byzantium. It should be read after savouring the previous two books in the trilogy. I enjoyed the sequence so much it led me to visit Istanbul which proved to be one of the best vacations I have had.
The account of the final fall on that fateful Tuesday is brilliantly created. The heroism of Constantine as he dies fighting on the walls sums up the life of an empire which bridged the classic, medieval and modern worlds.
A book that should be read by all, detailing the most glorious end to any empire on earth.
I was disappointed by the maps at the beginning of each book: they only give a very vague idea of where things are happening, and I would have loved to have seen what areas the Empire controlled at various points in its history. It seems a shame to have to look elsewhere for such maps, considering the quality of the writing.
Now that I'm drawing to a close with volume three, I wanted to take the time to give an overview of the whole series of books. I'll say first that these are really first rate books, the kind of history text that you could give to anyone an they'd enjoy them and learn from them. Norwich is a wonderful writer, with a confident grasp of the facts and possessed of an urbane, engaging and fluent style.
He is also disarmingly honest about his books' perceived limitations. Look elsewhere, he says, if you are a scholar who wants to learn from something new. Look elsewhere also if you want a real nuts and bolts account of dailt life and socio-ecomonic history of the empire. That's not to say he doesn't give us glimpses of what daily and spiritual life might have been like for the ordinary Byzantine. But for the most parts it's the key events and the key players that interest him and us.
VOLUME THREE is the spectacular culmination of Norwich's trilogy. Of course, we all know what's coming, but that doesn't make it any less hard-hitting when we read about the fall of Constantinople. After hundreds of pages and months of reading, it almost felt like someone I knew had died! This book is slightly different in tone again from its predecessors, in that it deals with history on the broadest of canvasses. How could it be otherwise? This was a time when Byzantium was caught up in- and eventually swept away by- events and antagonists coming at it from both east and west. This book covers the period of the crusades and the rise of the Turks to true preeminence.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great piece of writing - a good first book to readabout the late Rioman EmpirePublished 7 months ago by Anthony
Not quite as great as Part 1 & 2 but still amazing, paticularly the final fall. Definitely worth getting the three parter rather than the short version in my opinion.Published on 11 Dec. 2013 by loondoob
This, the final volume of a three book series, brings to end a rivetting and excellent history of the Byzantium Empire. Read morePublished on 14 Oct. 2013 by joao vicente
What a great work on Byzantium,a must have for History boffins,Great and easy read,at times humourous and really gripping. Read morePublished on 27 Aug. 2012 by Tony Allen
Of all 3 I enjoyed this one the most. Very moving. Made me shed a tear at the final chapter.Published on 17 April 2012 by DavesTheName
I knew the general outline of Byzantine history, but a lot of the detail was just a blank to me. No longer. Read morePublished on 17 Mar. 2011 by Jezza
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