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Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization | [Lars Brownworth]

Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization

In AD 476 the Roman Empire fell - or rather, its western half did. Its eastern half, which would come to be known as the Byzantine Empire, would endure and often flourish for another 11 centuries. Though its capital would move to Constantinople, its citizens referred to themselves as Roman for the entire duration of the empire's existence.
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Publisher's Summary

In AD 476 the Roman Empire fell - or rather, its western half did. Its eastern half, which would come to be known as the Byzantine Empire, would endure and often flourish for another 11 centuries. Though its capital would move to Constantinople, its citizens referred to themselves as Roman for the entire duration of the empire's existence. Indeed, so did its neighbors, allies, and enemies: When the Turkish Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453, he took the title Caesar of Rome, placing himself in a direct line that led back to Augustus.

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

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  •  
    Scot BEVERLY HILLS, MI, United States 04-21-11
    Scot BEVERLY HILLS, MI, United States 04-21-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Poorly Written and Terribly Narrated"

    I had recently finished listening to 'Empires of the Sea' and '1453' and was absolutely fascinated by them both (with regard to learning more about the history of the eastern Mediterranean area), so I assumed that I would be love this book. What a massive disappointment. While I appreciate that the span of time covered by this topic precludes in-depth analysis of any specific event, the book was nothing but a series of conclusions based upon sparse facts which are overly dramatized by non-scholarly idioms. Also, the author is the narrator, and his ability to narrate is even poorer than his skill as a historian. I would advise anyone to skip listening (or reading) this book. It was awful.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Twain MacPherson Seattle, WA USA 02-15-14
    Twain MacPherson Seattle, WA USA 02-15-14 Member Since 2012

    Orthodox Docent

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    "Western History was preserved by the....West!"
    Where does Lost to the West rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization, A Great book, and is a testament against the anti-western history drone: drone, def: n. Ignorant sales or customer service personnel in computer or electronics superstores. Characterized by a lack of even superficial knowledge about the products they sell.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It explains how the west was actually preserved by the "eastern west," or Byzantium, the Eastern Roman Empire, not by Islam. The true story of the preservation of how greek thought and philosophy was preserved within Byzantine tradition and culture and thereby spared for rediscovery, the "renaissance" is eye opening to those hoodwinked by their contemporary professors of the history of early modern europe.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Atascadero, CA, United States 11-17-13
    Kenneth Atascadero, CA, United States 11-17-13 Member Since 2009
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    "One sided?"

    I didn't look at all the reviews, but I was surprised that more readers have not complained about the way this book treats the Turks. Whatever the Turks did after taking Constantinople, it was not worse than what the crusaders did in (and on the way to) Jerusalem, and was not unusually barbaric compared to what 'Western' civilizations did to conquered enemies (the Turks did not plow the city under and salt the ground, for example, as the Romans did in Carthage). The author represents Turks as cartoon bad-guys, without context or motivation.

    Also, while the nasty politics of Constantinople are mentioned (at least at the end), the system that has left us with the adjective 'Byzantine' gets off a little light, IMHO.

    Since I do not know that much about this period of "Roman" history, I cannot really comment on the accuracy of this work. But I would encourage you to look carefully at the reviews which criticize the author's accuracy. The author is good at telling a story, and the narration is fairly good. It is entertaining, but I'm not sure its good history.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tedd Dover, NH, United States 06-06-12
    tedd Dover, NH, United States 06-06-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent history of the Byzantone empire!"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Lost to the West?

    The author does a great job of giving the individual historical figures personalities, and very three dimensional personalities as well.

    Justinian, for example, is not just shown as the great emperor casual history fans know, but also for his personality flaws. (Particularly his weaknesses in dealing with his wife!)


    What about Lars Brownworth’s performance did you like?

    Excellent narration!


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommended. The reading is compelling, history as good story telling.
    I know feel that I have a good understanding of the great history of the Eastern Roman Empire.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alesia United States 04-20-12
    Alesia United States 04-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Fantastic story, eloquent account of history!"
    What made the experience of listening to Lost to the West the most enjoyable?

    Brownworth tells an amazing story in a way that makes you eager to get back to it as soon as you turn if off!


    What about Lars Brownworth’s performance did you like?

    The narration was smooth and had a wonderful story-telling quality. I wish I could find more of his work!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Telling the account of the final fall of Constantinople brought me to tears. I felt connected to the citizens and emperor and rooted for them, even though I knew how the story would end.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christoph Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 06-03-11
    Christoph Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 06-03-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Delicius, pure poetry, amazing history!"

    This book is amazing well written and narrated, one of the bests audiobooks I heard until now. It explains many things, great histories to know about: Justinian, Belizarius.. It is a must hear to anyone interested in history.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Mertz 06-02-11
    B. Mertz 06-02-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Informative but not gripping"

    People who like history textbooks will likely enjoy this audiobook. At first I found it very intriguing and fascinating, mostly well-written, and fond of Lars Brownworth "just your average history guy" kind of delivery in his reading.

    As time went on I found my mind wandering and my interest flagging. I would fade out and come back thinking, "which one is king now? Which general is this?" Although it has good moments, as an audiobook this was not particularly entertaining. I don't at all regret the time spent on it, but I'll stick with books covering fewer centuries of history.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    william Atlanta, GA, United States 05-14-11
    william Atlanta, GA, United States 05-14-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Excellent Overview"

    The author is the narrator and does a very good job. Overall an excellent read/listen to anyone interested in the history of this time period.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Seattle, WA, United States 12-29-10
    Catherine Seattle, WA, United States 12-29-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Has A Certain Charm"

    The narrative presentation is more like listening to a man reading a fairytale to a child — actually very superficial in reading style and content but I guess a decent overview. I was disappointed that it was really no more than a recounting of a succession of wars with little detail about the civilization of the Byzantium Empire. Also the author is the narrator and his sing-song reading style became very grating - I could only listen for short periods at a time — really; next time pay a professional.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Halogen28372 Wake Forest, NC USA 05-11-10
    Halogen28372 Wake Forest, NC USA 05-11-10 Member Since 2009

    Electronics Guru

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    3
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    "A surprising account of the end of Rome"

    I really loved this book, it made me fall in love with the Byzantium Empire. The end of the book was somewhat depressing after the riveting accounts of the empires success in the early part of the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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