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Empires and Barbarians Paperback – Unabridged, 19 Mar 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprints edition (19 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330492551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330492553
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

`His book is a substantial achievement and clearly a helpful addition to a relatively neglected period of history.' --Mark Greaves, Catholic Herald

`Heather has a fine track record in rescuing historical babies from being thrown out with the revisionist bathwater. Here he reinstates mass migration as a key factor in the formation of modern Europe.'
--Mary Beard, Sunday Times

Book Description

The epic story of the creation of Europe by the bestselling author of The Fall of Rome

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A thoughroughly enjoyable book on a difficult subject. It offers new and surprising insight into the birth of Europe based on recent archaeological evidence and the few and rather reticent written primary sources available. What marks this book as different is Heather's fresh approach to both.
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Format: Hardcover
Densely pack and well argued, this sequel to Peter Heather's "The Fall of the Roman Empire" is a new classic. Using the latest composite information from historical texts and archaeological finds, Heather develops the "why" of the early development of Europe. It is liberally sprinkled with humorous turns of phrase when the reader least expects them. A chapter title of "Huns on the Run" gives some idea of the smiles that Heather can provoke. His attention to detail does not detract from his synthesis of grand themes in the migratory period. The single criticism I could place on the book is that the (very important) supporting map graphics are not found within the text where they are referenced but in a single section at the back of the book. For an explanation of the "Third Law of Empires", you will have to read the book. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Having read his earlier book on the fall of the Roman Empire and being very interested in what is commonly called the "dark ages", I really looked forward to this one, but it doesn't quite deliver.

For a start, the writing style seems to vary from sober historian to slangy joviality (at times he sounds like a historian on speed). The latter doesn't work. You can write pop history without descending to attempting "cool" language or John Cleese jokes (which foreign readers will not understand anyway). There's too much repetition and verbosity. It needs a good editor with guts to tell the author "Peter, keep it simple and try not to be the Nigel Kennedy of history writing."

The book is also very long and looking through the arguments and supporting information you come to the conclusion that there simply is not enough material on the subject probably to justify such a long book. Written material is scant and the archeological remains are not massive either. This means that much of the work is devoted to arguing about migration and invasion hypotheses and using parallels from the modern world to try and construct a model for the movements of peoples. If you don't know about (or are not interested in) the various theories on this subject it can be quite difficult or boring. However, he handles many of the arguments, particularly given the limited material, well and his thesis is well presented. What is weak is the use of comparisons with other ages. He continually uses the example of the Boer Trekkers as the virtually sole example of similar migrations. If his theory relies on comparatives with other similar migrations in history, I would expect to see more examples.
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Format: Paperback
A very good book, but hard-going at first. I
t is aimed at experienced readers of history, and demands a determined approach to get through this complex subject. The wide-ranging nature of the topic does mean that there is more repetition than normal, but at least the difficult points eventually "go home".

Yes, it could be shorter and for this reason and that of repetition, it is not as good as his other book "Fall of the Roman Empire". However, those new to the subject should probably read the latter, and perhaps John Man's "Attila the Hun" first.

The variety of comparisons with modern history is illuminating and lightens the mood when things are getting tough. I enjoyed it very much, as it covered a number of subjects which have concerned me for some time - as a keen, non-academic historian, I could not put the book down.

However, my copy is now heavily edited with pencil-notes to make life easier when I read it again, which I will. Thank you, Peter Heather, for the experience - well worth it.
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Format: Paperback
This is a really long book. There are 734 pages which makes it over a hundred pages longer than his previous book The Fall of the Roman Empire. Before I go any further I want to strongly recommend that book. I think that it is one of the best books on the subject available. This one serves as sort of a companion to that one. While that book is pretty much exclusively from the Roman point of view, this book is told from the point of view of the Barbarians. Actually two sets of Barbarians. While his first book had a fairly limited timeframe (4th Century to 5th Century) this one deals with a much wider space of time (4th Century to 10th Century). This means that it goes through information much faster. The biggest problem with this book is something that the author can't do anything about. There just aren't many sources available on the barbarian tribes. There is a lot more guesswork and maybes in this book than his previous one. It's also much harder to read. It's main purpose isn't just to relate the Fall of Rome from the Barbarian point of view or to narrate the end of Rome and the Dark Ages, it's a bit of both and it isn't satisfactory for either. The focus is on analyzing the migrations and formation of tribes during the Late Roman and early Middle Ages. This can be interesting but it is essentially a more specialized topic than either of the others would be. There is a lot of information here, and the book itself is well written like all of Heather's work, but the whole thing is just too specific to maintain my interest for over 600 pages. Nonetheless, it remains an informative book and it is certainly worth a read if you have the patience.
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