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 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.
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.
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.
Similar to the podcast, but enough new material to make it worth buying. I just wish there was a smidgen longer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
Brownworth tells an amazing story in a way that makes you eager to get back to it as soon as you turn if off!
The narration was smooth and had a wonderful story-telling quality. I wish I could find more of his work!
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.
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.
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