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The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History by [Heather, Peter]
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The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Review

'Meticulously and compellingly, he traces the rise of the tribe... -- The Times

'[a] ground-breaking study' -- Mail on Sunday

'it is unusual for a modern academic historian to arrive at, let alone articulate, so thorough a conclusion.' -- The Times

'this is history writing at its best' -- The Tablet

‘Ground-breaking study’ -- Mail on Sunday

Tom Holland

'With this book, a powerful searchlight has been shone upon the shadow-dimmed end of Rome’s western empire.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4433 KB
  • Print Length: 594 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0195325419
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprints edition (30 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0044KLOXO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #78,221 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
I think some of the reviewers here are far too harsh in what they say about Heather. This is an immaculate study of the decline and fall of Rome. Heather's theories sit well within the prevailing historical consensus- he is illuminating on many of the themes that surround the fall- the rise of Barbarion tribes and the reasons for their rising and falling. He writes an analytical narrative- unlike some major popular histories he actually does analyse why things happened. The Fall of Rome can easily be reduced to battle after battle, imperial slaughter after slaughter but Heather gives you the reasons why one tribal confederacy won through, why imperial turnover was a constitutional feature of the empire. Perhaps most impressively, Heather thoroughly describes what he doesn't know as well as what he does- we don't have an internal account of the Hunnic Empire so can't know why Attilla headed west but can guess for example. Overall this is a wonderful study- full of analysis, full of narrative, which provides a coherent account of why the Empire fell and how it fell.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book which is as every bit of epic as its subject matter. Peter Heather writes in an accessible, easy-to-follow manner making this book ideal for the layperson, scholar and student. Rather than seeing the end of the western Roman Empire as a result of internal decline and internecine warfare (the Edward Gibbon approach), Heather argues that the Empire fell due to the rise of the Germanic tribes north of the Danube, both economically and politically into supergroups, which became too strong for the western resources to ovecome. Coupled with this, argues Heather, the movement of the Huns in the 370s, forcing the Greuthungi and Tervingi Goths onto Roman territory, and again between 395-420 onto the Great Hungarian Plain, forcing this time more Goths, Burgundians and Alans etc, provided the catalyst for barbarian encroachment upon Roman territory. Each loss of teritory meant loss of revenue with which to pay the diminishing legions. The most telling of losses were the rich African provinces to the Vandals. Really, it is not so much as the decline of the west, but the rise of the barbarians, caused by the sudden appearance, and disappearance, of the Huns.

Other reviewers have provided more in-depth looks at the pros and cons of this book - with which I would agree (in particular some of the contemporary language and jokes would seem out of place)- therefore I will not repeat them here. Suffice to say this is an excellent, informative account of one of the world's most important events.

Thoroughly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Along with many others, I suspect, I knew little about the late 4th and 5th centuries in Europe, the Asian margins and the Mediterranean lands, apart from the fact that the Roman empire had collapsed, taking civilsation with it, and that 'barbarian' hordes had swept in, eventually to fill the power gap with the early medieval kingdoms. Actually it always seemed rather an obscure and muddled period.
But Peter Heather's book, with its wit and schoalrship, casts a clear light on the immense landscape from Gaul to the Danube and on the complexity of desperate political manoeuverings, heroic battles and undoubted brutality on both sides. It must have been tempting to only deal with the broad canvas, but Professor Heather studs the text with real individuals, the admirable Aetius, last effective defender of the West (how Tolkienesque can you get?) and the brilliant, wily and charismatic Attila, for example. It was also enlightening to learn about the original source materials, from the endearing Olympiodorus (and his parrot!) and from the pragmatic saint Severinus, so effective in defending Noricum against the invaders. And how amazing that such revealing diplomatic correspondence,noted in later Byzantine archives, has survived, at least in part.
Professor Heather insists that the western empire collapsed not though internal decadence, nor through the debilitating influence of Christianity (turning warriors into wimps) but through the 'exogenous shock'of the expansion of the Hunnic peoples and the intolerable pressure this put upon the Germanic groups clustered around the Roman frontiers.
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Format: Paperback
The "Fall of the Roman Empire" casts a huge shadow. A vast Empire, one of the "great civilisations" of history, went in barely a century from being the "sole superpower" to a mere plaything of barbarian tribes.

Why did it happen? All sorts of reasons can be offered, and Heather offers several, but what it comes down to is that this is simply what empires do - they rise, they exist for a time - years, decades or (as in Romes's case) centuries - and then they fall. Rome had already had a better "innings" than most, and in the fifth century its luck ran out.

It is usual to blame the Fall on the Empire's internal problems, and say that it became "decadent" or whatever. Heather, probably rightly, focuses more on what was happening outside Rome's borders. The Barbarian tribes, living for centuries with that 800 pound Roman "gorilla" next door, combined into larger units like the Frankish or Gothic kingdoms, which were a tougher proposition for Rome to cope with. Everlasting warfare with these states gradually wore the Empire down, and finally another barbarian, Attila, drove many tribes from their old homes and forced them to try their luck migrating into Roman territory. This proved more than Rome (or at least its western half) could cope with. So down the tubes it went.

No doubt, had Rome not fallen from this cause, it would eventually have fallen another way. Empires are usually longer lived than individuals, but are no more immortal. But Heather does a magnificent job of showing how and why it fell as and when it did.

One minor regret. Perhaps a little more "afterword" about post-Roman Europe might have been in order. For the significant thing about the Roman Empire is not that it fell (which was bound to happen sometime) but that it was never rebuilt.
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