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
This was like watching a soap opera with all the intrigues and usurping that happened in the West and the East. I highly recommemnd this one!
excellent history book
you can see the direct realtion between out modern world countries and religions and the amazing history of the byzantine empire and its dramatic fall.
i was realy shocked by the end of the empire, and even more sad that i even hadn't known existed, florished and than raped and destroyed by muslims...
Yes I would recommend this to a friend.
Why? because I liked the audio book.
It filled a history void for me.
What really happened to the Romans and there empire.
No one character, maybe the different emperors over time.
Saddened at the end of the empire.
This audio book will help you understand history, and the fact that very little changes over time. As the politicians brought down the Roman empire aided and abedded by a spoiled citizenry. The way this book ended I was on the Ottomans side ready to stick a fork in the empire myself.
Lars deals magnificently with the common misconception that the Roman Empire ceased to exist in the late 5th century. You get an almost living understanding of the men who steered the Eastern half of the empire through almost another millennia, until Constantinople was overrun by the Turks in 1453. The highs are very high, the lows totally abysmal, as Lars walks us through times that prove fact as being more interesting and stranger than fiction. Plague, famine, intrigue, war, triumph and chaos combine to give us this history of western culture, that grew up in the east. Without these rulers and people, we'd all be speaking Arabic. Because of them, we have the cultural excellence in the west today while the middle east is still sadly lacking an equivalent.
If you've ever enjoyed Roman history, then this is a must read.
Lars also has a podcast on iTunes that covers much of the same material in greater brevity.
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.
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