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
Had my college history books been this good I'd have stayed in school longer.
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...
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.
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