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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. 1 Paperback – 27 Mar 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 398 pages
  • Publisher: SMK Books (27 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617207047
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617207044
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,976,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), English historian. It was on a visit to Rome that he conceived the idea of his magnificent and panoramic history The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vol., 1776-88) which won immediate acclaim, despite some harsh criticism. Gibbon himself was assured of the greatness of his work, which is, indeed, one of the most-read historical works of modern times. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edward Gibbon's magnum opus on the Roman Empire is legendary. Finding the right edition to purchase, however, was a bit tricky. It was a choice between David Womersley's Penguin Classics edition and the Everyman edition edited by Hugh Trevor-Roper, using J. B. Bury's nineteenth century edition.

Initially I wanted to go for Everyman as it was the only affordable hardback edition. However after doing some research I discovered that Womersely had savaged this edition in his review, claiming that the book evinced an ignorance of Gibbon's work and that Trevor-Roper's introduction was "the only valuable part" of the text. Also I found that Womersley had written the entry for Gibbon in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and two academic books on Gibbon (The Transformation of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City': The Historian and his Reputation, 1776-1815). After consideration I therefore purchased the three Penguin Classics volumes edited by Womersley, as it is the only critical edition.

Overall, I was not disappointed. As historians go, Gibbon has no equal in elegantly written prose (though Macaulay comes close). He writes with all the finesse of an eighteenth century English gentleman, which of course he was. You get the best of both worlds with Gibbon: fine literature and you are learning at the same time. Although on points of detail classical scholars may disagree with Gibbon nowadays, certainly no modern day historian surpasses him in writing style.
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Format: Paperback
Gibbon was a genius. He spent practically his entire lifetime writing and researching this book. The mere scope of his survey is astounding, extending from the splendor of the Antonine age to the decadence of Rome in the seventeenth century. This is not only a work about the Roman Empire, but also about Europe and the Catholic Church. It stands as the legacy of a brilliant mind, no doubt one of the great accomplishments of European Literature.

What Gibbon is writing about is the destruction of the classical world, and its replacement by a more authoritarian feudal society. This was a brutal process because it meant destroying an entire civilization. People enjoyed a high degree of social mobility in the classical world. But by the time of the Middle Ages, most of the population were slaves. The Church, in Gibbon's view, was the principal culprit in this upheaval. For this reason, "Decline and Fall" was banned in several countries when it was published.

Gibbon is often called the first "modern" historian, due to his extensive use of primary sources and rigorous methodology. Many of his footnotes contain amusing anecdotes and trivial details. His writing style is elaborate, and he can seriously upgrade your vocabulary! Ironically, most classical scholars today dismiss him as unreliable because he influenced romantic portrayals of classical antiquity. This is a fair criticism; nevertheless, no work of modern scholarship has surpassed Gibbon's masterpiece to date.

Womersley's edition is very well-organized and arranges the narrative's historical chronology as follows:

Volume 1 - covers the Antonine period down to the end of the fourth century.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was my first eBook and I did not have high expectations of an on-screen version of this classic tale of Roman Emperors. Very surprised to find that it is perfectly readable on my Windows Phone. However, the original scanning of the text leaves a little to be desired, with missing characters, lines of text and even some pages. Not perfection but a great tale of how rulers can get it right or wrong that parallels what is happening in the world today. Plus ça change!
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this is a book that tells the reader more about the current state of our democracies than any number of well meaning bloggers (like me) could describe. Anyone remotely interested in history, or just how societies work, needs to read it. To get it free (even though this edition is a bit scruffy in places) is an answer in itself to any sniffy reader who still claims that ebooks are not like real books. Surprisingly modern in outlook even though it's such an old book. Easy and fun to read and even when you think you've read other books about the decline and fall, they were probably based on this and lacking the intelligent asides and insights that make this journey so rewarding. A tiny example from one of Gibbon's digressions to explain Zoroastrianism (the religion of the Magi) where he quotes "he who sows the ground with care and diligence acquires a greater stock of religious merit than he could gain by the repetition of ten thousand prayers" described by the historian as " a wise and benevolent maxim which compensates for many an absurdity" Have to admit that I hadn't realized that the histories of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus were so close to the Ridley Scott version (no Russell Crowe here, but the mad emperor did fancy himself a gladiator).
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