The Empire Stops Here: A Journey along the Frontiers of the Roman World Hardcover – 4 Jun 2009
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'I couldn't stop reading' --The Scotsman
“Whether he is considering Antony and Cleopatra, Queen Zenobia starting her own great eastern Empire from Syria or the significance of Hadrian’s Wall, Philip Parker is the perfect combination of compelling narrative historian and observant travel writer. This is one of the liveliest works of ancient history I’ve ever read.”
“This is a labour of love, clearly the work of long years…”
“The Empire Stops Here is not only a history. It is also an engaging modern travelogue with observations on how the archaeology of the Roman empire is preserved and presented in these 22 modern countries.”
“The patience, effort, and research that have gone into The Empire Stops Here are awe-inspiring.”
"…his book is far from being a conventional travelogue… Neither a work of history, nor a scholarly gazetteer, nor a guide, but rather a blend of all three, The Empire Stops Here is a book in which weather-beaten masonry serves to crowd out human beings, and in which the people who most truly come alive are those who have been dead for 2,000-odd years. …a quite breathtaking and eccentric edifice of scholarship. Parker's true models, it turns out, are not the modern generation of travel writers at all, but rather the ancient geographers, scholars such as Strabo and Diodorus Siculus, who thought nothing of using their travels as pegs on which to hang entire histories of the world. Unlike Shelley's traveller from an antique land, Parker does not write in scorn of the colossal wreck that he has witnessed, but rather in praise of it. His travels, he confesses, prompted in him two emotions: "wonder that after close to 2,000 years so much can survive, and sadness that for all our sophistication, we are unlikely ever again to create something so enduring." At least he can console himself with the reflection that, with this extraordinary book, he has raised a monument all of his own.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Philip Parker has managed to fuse contextual depth and scholarly rigour to a travel book, and to make an academic tome of ancient history jump to life.
If you are interested in Roman history, this is a terrific book to further your knowledge, written by an expert on the subject, but it also serves as an unrivalled and invaluable guide to take with you and to read, perhaps piecemeal, during a trip to a ruined temple on a dusty desert plain, a hilltop fort or ancient villa, or any other Roman remain or town that one might visit in Syria, Morocco, Egypt, Spain, Britain, Eastern Europe, or any of the far flung fringes of the Roman empire.
Definitely worth getting - this might be a model for how all history books will be written in the future.
This is a review of the 2010 paperback edition. It has an introduction, eleven chapters, and a conclusion. It was bought because of a good review by Tom Holland in The Guardian. Ultimately, it is for me a disappointing book, hence the three stars.
In his introduction, Philip Parker writes, "It is here, along the vast length of its frontier that I have chosen to investigate the complex entity that was Rome. I have concentrated deliberately on the edge of the Roman world, on the lands that promised victory, booty and glory, and yet so often left the bitter taste of compromise or defeat instead." Parker goes on to ask, "How did Rome come to conquer such an enormous territory, and where and why did its expansion halt and fold in upon itself to leave a joint legacy for the citizens of more than thirty modern countries?" Parker promises, therefore, a great deal. I'm not sure that he fulfils his obligations; and if he does, it is done in such a convoluted and unhelpful manner.
But first, what portions of the Roman world does he cover, since its frontier was different from one decade to the next? Parker answers, "In general I have chosen the maximum extension of the Empire ... as long as the occupation was more than ephemeral." Thus the Scottish lowlands are included but not the transient occupation of Assyria. Parker makes the point that the area today would comprise the world's seventh largest country in terms of area, the size of an Australia or Brazil.
So having defined his structure, what about the content?Read more ›
Good and informative , but a heavy read. Good to dip into if you are visiting any of the places on the old Roman frontier.
My husband and I are satisfied to own it, as we also visited several Roman cities in North Africa. We would like to recommend it to all sharing our passion for ancient history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very solid. Book covers almost all the Roman frontiers.
Nice book just as advertised. Needed in advance of post-grad module. An interesting read as Parker's done the leg-work. (Mr A Snail).Published on 26 April 2014 by charles