The author does a fine job of reading his own work. Like any book about distant history, you've gotta pay close attention, or you can quickly lose your place and have no idea what he's talking about. But if you pay attention, the book is an excellent narrative, from the founding of Constantinople to the fall of Constantinople. You could draw a nice graph of the rising and falling fortunes of the Empire from this clearly-written, entertaining account. In a single volume, Mr. Brownworth has done a great summary of 1,100 years of history, and I found myself wanting to seek more detailed, deeper histories of certain events and people, but that's by no means a criticism of this book. If you had x pages to tell the rich story of Byzantium, you can't tell it more evenly and smoothly than this book does. I think I really did end up with a reasonably comprehensive, if basic, passing familiarity with the totality of this now-little-known empire, which basically was the center of the WORLD for 1,000 years. It's made me wish my Greek friends had a better grasp of their own history so we can talk it.
First, I thought it ended rather abruptly. I actually expected I was half way through the book when it ended. So that was somewhat disappointing that it was over. Nonetheless, I wouldn't have been disappointed if I hadn't been enjoying it so much. It's a really good book, full of all the concepts and situations I like in a good post-apocalyptic novel. It's realistic, exciting, and the narrative is practically prose. The writer is extraordinarily articulate and well-spoken. Quite the opposite of the some of the more recent post-apocalyptic/survivalist novels which sound like a how-to manual being read. Highly recommended. I just finished Earth Abides, and although the stories begin quite similarly, they diverge enough to be mutually enjoyable, even if you read them in succession. I should also say that the reader is excellent and perfectly matched to the content.
The book is entertaining, and makes you think. The author has a socialist bent - he holds the opinion that if there were no rich people, everything would somehow be better. His characterization and depiction of the realities of the working class are honest, though. He makes excellent points and it's hard to argue with his views on most matters.
Listened to it twice to better appreciate and enjoy it. So rich, so wonderful. Dark and violent, yes... but that's what the time and place was. I have never encountered such a masterful rendering of the English language. This is the 20th century equivalent of Shakespeare. I read "The Road" also, and it was very good. This book is high art.
I wish I could absorb and retain all the great arguments and clear analysis in this book. It captures all of the nonsense you hear on the news, that falls out of the mouths of politicians, activists, and pundits - and explains quickly and clearly why they are wrong. A very entertaining and enlightening read.
If you like Roman history, this book is another great slice of the big picture. Hadrian himself is not the most interesting emperor; certainly a great one for his peaceful, learned, and benevolent nature. But the book also paints a vivid picture of the time and place - when Rome was at its greatest height. Everitt's book "Augustus" is another winner.
I've always wanted to know more about how ancient writings come down to us. There's a lot of detail about manuscripts and how long they last, and how little actually dates back to ancient times. I found it very interesting. The story of Poggio Bracciolini, the renaissance book hunter is also interesting. The author writes in wonderful prose. The reader compliments it nicely. If you like ancient/Roman/European history, this book is an entertaining overview.
An interesting book, but you'll learn more about Israel and Hezbollah and Hamas, organizations through which Iran acts secretly. I was hoping for more about the overt hostilities with Iran, and the inner workings of Iran, but as the title says, it's the secret war. Overall, good, but not exactly about Iran.
I was hoping for more summary and historical analysis and perspective. This books is, rather, a lot of moment-to-moment detail about battles, minor nobles, and many names of minor historical figures. If you are a crusades enthusiast, you might like it.
The impression of the story formed by the news media isn't going to be changed much by this book. But it's full of detail that would not otherwise be heard. The narrative is told in an interest, engaging way. The reader is good.
I found the book to be well written, and useful for filling in gaps in my knowledge of world history, but I discovered that the topic and the man are generally not my favorite areas of study. The reader is pleasant, and I guess I have nothing negative to say about it. If you are interested in Genghis Khan, you'll like this book (I think!).
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