Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quick Book Review: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

If you want to read a beautifully written and well researched book that is of a style not used anymore, read the Roman masterpiece by Gibbon. Gibbon created a huge work that people do not attempt anymore because it was so large in scope. Currently, historians focus on narrow subjects and mine the subject down to a nitty gritty. One professor of mine once said someday they will reward a PhD for someone who wrote a dissertation on the first paragraph of Hamlet. Gibbon writes elegantly, can stir emotions, and makes you wonder about the glory that was Rome.

A secret bonus to this book that I did not expect were the chapters on the early Christian faith, the chapters on the Crusades, and the rise of Islam as a mostly destructive force. I read a work that had selected chapoters, with many just summarized. It still clocked in at 1000 pages. One recommendation would be to focus on chapters for the parts you want to read. I was actually bothered that my edition did not have the full chapters on Justinian and Belisarius (although I have read much on Belisarius) or more on the Byzantine emperors. This is still a fantastic work. If you're a current American citizen, you might read some passages, look around, and just sigh because of the familiarity.

No comments: