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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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  •  
    Jeffrey Brooklyn, NY, USA 01-17-10
    Jeffrey Brooklyn, NY, USA 01-17-10 Member Since 2015
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    "4 1/2 Stars - Making History Fun"

    I waited for this book, just like the podcasts that earned Brownworth his publishing deal, with anxious anticipation. The historical research isn't always perfect but it's solid and he succeeds in making the history of the too often ignored Byzantine empire fun and accessible. For the reviewer who complained about the author reading his book; it all started with his voice so get over it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ATCTGAGTGCCTTTG Texas 09-05-10
    ATCTGAGTGCCTTTG Texas 09-05-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Essentially the same as the podcast"

    Lars Brownworth's work is a fine piece of popularized history. However he has already given this work away for free as a podcast, and thus I cannot recommend spending money on this audiobook.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joachim Davis, California, United States 06-17-13
    Joachim Davis, California, United States 06-17-13
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    "Sophomoric, inaccurate, a waste of time."
    Would you try another book from Lars Brownworth and/or Lars Brownworth?

    This book was created after the author, a catholic high school history teacher, had a somewhat successful podcast. He was offered a book deal and produced... this. I am a fan of Roman history and had extremely high hopes.

    This book is of the same quality as a high school history report. It contains gross historical inaccuracies. Where the author's personal knowledge falls short, instead of pausing and consulting primary sources, he simply glosses over or sometimes outright invents reasons for historical events. According to Brownworth, the great schism between the Catholic and Orthodox faiths occurred due to a particularly grumpy emissary sent by the pope who did not like greasy greek food. This is beyond lazy.

    The author's grasp of the English language, specifically the meaning of certain vocabulary words, is off, producing unintentional hilarity. It is clear that the manuscript for "Lost to the West" was also lost to the hands of any professional editorial oversight. Most recent vocabulary chuckle moment: "The invading force slipped by the laconic guards." This sentence, when read in context, indicates that the author thinks laconic to mean lazy, slow, or dull in some way. It really means terse, of few words.

    I am not just disappointed in this book. I feel I have been cheated. If there were a way to get my money back, I would demand it without hesitation.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Medford, MA, United States 10-10-11
    Adam Medford, MA, United States 10-10-11
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    "Good, but I wish there was more"

    Similar to the podcast, but enough new material to make it worth buying. I just wish there was a smidgen longer

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zafiris Toronto, Ontario, Canada 04-21-10
    Zafiris Toronto, Ontario, Canada 04-21-10 Member Since 2006
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    "An enjoyable read"

    This book provides one of the best narratives of Byzantine history and is written in a way that is easy to follow while successfully keeping the reader engaged. The author does a superb job at reading his book.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scot Bloomfield Hills, MI 04-21-11
    Scot Bloomfield Hills, MI 04-21-11 Member Since 2010
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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 02-15-14

    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
  •  
    Marisa Dover, NH, United States 06-06-12
    Marisa 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 2013
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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 2015
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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
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