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 took a class on the Byzantine Empire in graduate school and was fascinated by it. Lars Brownworth does an excellent job taking some of the biggest players in the thousand year Byzantine Empire history and bringing their story to life. After some time, you find yourself rooting for this dogged empire that was fighting foes on all sides, and constantly got in its own way. When you arrive at the end of the book, you find yourself feeling the weight of the Byzantines as they desperately tried to fight off the enemy that would destroy.
With the engaging writing that draws you in and gives you a personal stake in long distant historical events, this book is one of the better historical books I've ever read/listened to. I only wish Lars Brownworth would write and narrate some more books on the Byzantines.
I found Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization to be a very well done book, for me it was a subject I knew less about. I found that the author, who also is the narrator, to be easy to listen to its nice to hear the actual author reading there own book. I learned a lot about the late Roman empire in the east. I have since listened to the authors podcasts as well. Overall its a great listen, enjoy.
Had my college history books been this good I'd have stayed in school longer.
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.
Expansive creative worlds or histories seem to be my thing these days... Too much time in a car with long drives ahead!
Did you ever read a book that made you realize how truly ignorant you were? Sure you learned bits in pieces along the way in academia but if you were not a history major this is a must listen.
Yes, it is an excellent sequel to lectures on Hebrew, Greek and Roman civilizations of antiquity (from Modern Scholar series) and this book is a great link from that to the end of the middle ages.
The final heroic fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the last emperor Constantine XI are incredibly sad but extraordinary accounts.
Belisarius, the amazing general and incredibly faithful follower of Emperor Justinian, who managed to reconquer almost the entire roman world for the Empire.
The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453
This book helps understand, sadly, the roots of the deep hatred that run among the peoples in the Balkans, and between them and Turkey. It also reminds us of the long history of atrocities committed in the name of faith.
Rich, captivating, aha!
The lost history of Christianity (Philip Jenkins). Opened a new realm of history that had been totally skipped in my schooling.
No, it needed digesting.
I loved it when I found out the author is the narrator.
The story was fascinating, if a bit long, Not dull.
That war is such a constant theme in human history.
His reading was very clear and his reading style adds interest to the book
The final invasion by the turks was horrible, but thats what happened.
It was nice to learn about a part of the world that was not Rome or Greece!
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...
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