For far too many otherwise historically savvy people today, the story of the Byzantine civilization is something of a void. Yet for more than a millennium, Byzantium reigned as the glittering seat of Christian civilization. When Europe fell into the Dark Ages, Byzantium held fast against Muslim expansion, keeping Christianity alive. When literacy all but vanished in the West, Byzantium made primary education available to both sexes. Students debated the merits of Plato and Aristotle and commonly committed the entirety of Homer's Iliad to memory. Streams of wealth flowed into Constantinople, making possible unprecedented wonders of art and architecture, from fabulous jeweled mosaics and other iconography to the great church known as the Hagia Sophia that was a vision of heaven on earth. The dome of the Great Palace stood nearly two hundred feet high and stretched over four acres, and the city's population was more than twenty times that of London's.
From Constantine, who founded his eponymous city in the year 330, to Constantine XI, who valiantly fought the empire's final battle more than a thousand years later, the emperors who ruled Byzantium enacted a saga of political intrigue and conquest as astonishing as anything in recorded history. Lost to the West is replete with stories of assassination, mass mutilation and execution, sexual scheming, ruthless grasping for power, and clashing armies that soaked ...
©2009 Lars Brownworth; (P)2009 Random House
I would only recommend this book because there were no alternatives with a broad overview of Byzantium. This book takes a bit of simple approach to some complex issues that are better dealt with by other books that only consider them tangentially. I also found that occasionally I'd be hearing about a person for up to five minutes before the person's name was used - very annoying when you can't flip ahead a few pages.
I just love this book
It talk about begging to end Byzantine empire
If you only want to get one book on the Byzantine and know 95% then I would get this book
I really enjoyed this book. It was a great introduction to a period in history that I had never learned anything about in school. Lars Brownworth does a great job reading with all of the enthusiasm you would expect from an author reading his own work.
I have already listened to this book three times and continue to go back to it. It is an outstanding sweep of history through a civilisation that was so key to the modern world, yet is not well known or understood.
The city itself. The walls the Hagia Sofia, halls chambers, hippodrome and so on. The sprawling city of Byzantium itself is an amazing backdrop to this awesome tale. The hippodrome, churches, Hagia Sofia, the walls; all played key roles in the culture, history and longevity of the empire.
This text is more than a broad sweep of key moments in a 1100 year empire; it contains lessons from throughout history that we have so quickly forgotten.
Short term political decisions, appeasement of aggressors, the origins of the renaissance; all of which appeared previously to be lost to history.
It is astounding to me that the Roman empire, or at least an empire that considered itself to be Rome, existed until 1453. 39 years before Columbus landed in the Americas.
A fascinating tale of an unknown historical landscape filled with tribes and events that have also been lost to the telling of the history of western civilisation.
Easier to get through the audio in the car than sitting and reading.
Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is excellent, and it covers the Eastern Empire to the end in 1453 as well. But there is so much detail that a reader will lose his place in the story. Lost to the West has the right amount of detail to keep the story logically connected and prevent the reader (listener) from losing his place.
Discouraging to realize how often the Byzantines, and their Western Roman brothers were their own worst enemies, more losing the Empire than being beaten by outsiders.
Gibbon's books would be more appreciated if the reader had a good idea of the thread from beginning to end, which is easier to take away from Lost to the West.
Brownworth gets a number of key facts wrong, rendering much of his history untrustworthy. He badly botches the account of the fall of the Western Empire. Flavius Aetius died BEFORE Attila, not afterwards as presented in the text. Aetius certainly was no barbarian, as Brownworth casually dismisses him. Indeed, the Catalaunian Plains are hardly mentioned at all.
Getting basic historical sequences correct is the first duty of a dutiful scholar. Brownworth doesn't look this material up and doesn't seem to be intimately familiar with the Late Roman period. He might be a good writer, but he's not a very good scholar.
Probably not. He's just not a very good scholar.
I don't know. I gave up listening at the two-hour mark.
If I could get my credit back from Audible, and could somehow "return" this audiobook, I'd be pretty happy. "Lost to the West" is just a really unfortunate volume.
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