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The Oxford History of Byzantium
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The illustrations and their captions add to the educative value of this book: well chosen and beautifully reproduced, they help to illuminate many of the points made in the text. The numerous maps are also clear and instructive ... a useful tool for students and lay readers at all levels, although it could also serve as an elegant gift for the coffee table. (Sobornost (incorporating Eastern Churches Review))
This is a book which succeeds in giving the reader an introduction to many different aspects of Byzantium and a sense of its long history and wide-spreading civilisation. (Anglo-Hellenic Review)
... fine collection of plates and maps. (Anglo-Hellenic Review)
... a high quality book of essays by a distinguished group of scholars covering the broad outlines of the period, together with interesting chapters on culture. (Anglo-Hellenic Review)
... essential reading for anyone who wants to look beyond the strictly 'classical' limits of our subject and in so doing to gain a greater insight into the medium through which the ancient cultures were transmitted to us. (JACT Review)
... consistently excellent level of scholarship ... surprisingly easy to read for a book of this type. Its accessibility is further enhanced both by the beautiful photographs which illuminate the text and which present a commendably broad range of images and by the seven 'special features' in which subjects such as Icons and Monasticism are singled out for focused attention. (JACT Review)
This handsome book, which comprises twelve essays on the history and culture of Byzantium written by a luminary array of Byzantine scholars from Britain and America, deserves a place in the Classics section of every school and university library. (JACT Review)
The essays are well worth reading for themselves, but taken together the reader can gain from them an excellent overall impression of the changing fortunes of Byzantium over its long and varied history. This is an attractively produced and readable book, beautifully illustrated and unencumbered by footnotes ... an appealing and enjoyable read, especially for non-specialists wanting convenient access to the whole chronological range of Byzantine history. (Averil Cameron, The Anglo-Hellenic Review)
Gives readers new insights based on the latest research ... The wealth of illustrations helps to bring this lost civilisation vividly back to life. (Contemporary Review)
A triumph... there is a deliberate attempt to get beyond the merely political to understand the deeper movements which sustained the empire. It deserves the warmest recommendation. (Charles Freeman, History Today)
Full of insight and interest, clearly written and beautifully presented, this splendid book helps to open up a window into an extraordinary age. (Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman,)
A remarkable achievement ... Highly recommended not only for scholars and students of Byzantium but also for interested general readers. (Robert J. Andrews, Library Journal) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Cyril Mango was Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at Oxford until his retirement. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The book's structure subdivides into four broadly chronological sections covering (i) Late Antiquity (ii) the dark and crisis-wracked years of the seventh and eighth centuries (iii) the empire's medieval revival and (iv) its rather ignominious post-1204 afterlife. Each section starts with a fairly quickfire 'who did what when' chapter to give the reader their bearings, and then subsequent chapters within each section dive a little deeper into the major themes of the era (eg Iconoclasm, monasticism, heresy, diplomacy etc). Each of these themed essays is written by a different specialist, with Cyril Mango probably contributing the best of the lot with his gripping account of the empire's changing cultural beliefs in the 4th to 6th centuries. It's a structure that succeeds brilliantly, layering successive insights and perspectives into a well-rounded and surprisingly rich overview of over 1000 years of Byzantine history.
I'd recommend this to any undergraduate coming to Byzantine history for the first time, as the perfect warm-up before tackling George Ostrogorsky's magisterial History of the Byzantine State. More experienced readers will also purr with pleasure over the condensed, considered scholarship on display here - as well as over Professor Mango's waspish, donnish wit. It seems foolish to recommed a book about Byzantine history to the general reader - general readers don't as a rule tend to pick up books about Byzantine history, even ones as good as this - but anyone with an interest in early Medieval history will find much to divert and entertain them in this handsome, well-illustrated and thoughtful book.
The opinions expressed in the final essay regarding the influence of Byzantine culture on modern Greek and Russian Orthodoxy are naive to say the least. Almost nothing is written about the influence of Byzantium on modern Greece - a very strange omission.
The obtuse language used in many of the essays would negate any appeal to the lay reader expecting a readable introduction to this very complex subject.
Printing quality and illustrations are first class.
All in all a very readable history.
I also liked The Secret History of the Court of Justinian.