The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Abridged, 19 Jun 2000
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About the Author
Edward Gibbon (1737-94) studied briefly at Magdalen College, Oxford and at Lausanne, Switzerland before being elected to Parliament in 1774. DECLINE & FALL was written over 12 years and established his reputation as a pre-eminent Classical historian.
David Womersley, Official Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Jesus College Oxford, is the author of The Transformation of the Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire (CUP) and edited the 3-volume edition of DECLINE & FALL for Penguin Classics.
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Top Customer Reviews
One needs stamina and determination to read the book from cover to cover but the story it tells and the manner of its telling I found compelling.
The great advantage of reading it on a Kindle is that if like me your vocabulary is inadequate to the task then you are able to use the inbuilt dictionary as you proceed.
The story told is epic in every way and the lessons learnt have considerable relevance to today's society - for example, as riots were breaking out recently in Birmingham and London I read the following paragraph:
"Whenever numerous groups of banditti, multiplied by success and impunity, publicly defy, instead of eluding the justice of their country, we may safely infer, that the excessive weakness of the government is felt and abused by the lowest ranks of the community"
The sentence length, multiple levels of parenthesis, syntax and vocabulary require a greater level of concentration on behalf of the reader than then of a modern history book but the effort is worth it.
The edition lost one star by not translating into English some (not all) of the footnotes left in Latin.
This is no easy read of course. The language, whilst exquisite, verges on the archaic. But for those willing to embark on the journey you will find out as much about the world we live in today as that of supposed antiquity.
The text unfolds eloquently in the grand august language that set the standard for all subsequent big histories.
The quality of style is evident from the beginning as your fears of being swamped in a mass of cold detail and chronology are quickly erased. The initial encounter is one of profound eloquence, deep insights and detailed stories grounded in their appropriate context. The text is full of reflective asides on the nature of human beings, the corruptive nature of power, the fragile frame of human unity, and above all the sheer hypocrisy of the dogmas used by ruling forces to give either an ideological or credal basis for their despotism.
I absolutely loved this book, kept in my bag, at my bedside and read it bit by bit, on and off, for over a year. Admittedly, i'm not able to recall the names of all the emperors, all the battles or recite much of the factual instances narrated...but that wasn't the point. It was a journey, rather like taking occasional walks with a wise old man.
I don't really know much about history and haven't read many history books, so I'll leave it to others to comment on whether it's an academically legit and accurate account of Rome. All I can say is that I enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.
I suspect most people will buy this, as i did, with no intent of reading it cover to cover, but once i got started - it was just so engrossing and rich in style that it became a pleasure to read.Read more ›
Gibbon didn't even have a dictionary when he wrote this and he can create images in the mind of the reader! Gibbon is like a magic mushroom, but legal.
Many reviewers keep talking about Gibbon's claim that it was Christianity that weakened the empire. This is only partly true. Gibbon spends much time talking psychology, power politics, general weakening of a decadent people and many other piercing insights into the general idiocy and brutality of the times.
Words can't describe the genius of Edward Gibbon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is only volume 1!!!!!! This is not made clear in the listing.Published 11 months ago by Mrs MIC Wylie
The item was as described and arrived in the specified time slotPublished 15 months ago by Mr. J. Mann
A good read following Livy's History of Rome in 3 volumes.Published 17 months ago by finthebiscuitman
This kindle version saves about a foot of shelf space. This version has notes at the end of each chapter which are hard to differentiate from the text which is slightly annoying... Read morePublished 19 months ago by JS
I have got the book today. The print is so small I cannot read it. Will you swap it for the Kindle version please? Read morePublished 23 months ago by Clarita