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Lost to the West Audiobook

Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization

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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

What Members Say

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  •  
    Caroline Saad 02-21-13 Member Since 2009
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    "EXTRAORDINARY, IF SAD ACCOUNT OF BIZANTINE HISTORY"
    Would you listen to Lost to the West again? Why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Lost to the West?

    The final heroic fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the last emperor Constantine XI are incredibly sad but extraordinary accounts.


    Which character – as performed by Lars Brownworth – was your favorite?

    Belisarius, the amazing general and incredibly faithful follower of Emperor Justinian, who managed to reconquer almost the entire roman world for the Empire.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Gilbert, AZ, United States 12-19-12
    Andrew Gilbert, AZ, United States 12-19-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Unexpectedly captivating"
    If you could sum up Lost to the West in three words, what would they be?

    Rich, captivating, aha!


    What other book might you compare Lost to the West to and why?

    The lost history of Christianity (Philip Jenkins). Opened a new realm of history that had been totally skipped in my schooling.


    Have you listened to any of Lars Brownworth’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Haven't listened.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it needed digesting.


    Any additional comments?

    I loved it when I found out the author is the narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carol Bend, OR, United States 11-28-12
    carol Bend, OR, United States 11-28-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Well done,I would buy it again"
    What did you love best about Lost to the West?

    The story was fascinating, if a bit long, Not dull.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Lost to the West?

    That war is such a constant theme in human history.


    What about Lars Brownworth’s performance did you like?

    His reading was very clear and his reading style adds interest to the book


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The final invasion by the turks was horrible, but thats what happened.


    Any additional comments?

    It was nice to learn about a part of the world that was not Rome or Greece!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael C Walter 10-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Extemely entertaining"
    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roman Haifa, Israel 09-15-12
    Roman Haifa, Israel 09-15-12 Member Since 2012
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    "excellent book!!!"
    If you could sum up Lost to the West in three words, what would they be?

    excellent history book


    What did you like best about this story?

    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...


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Austin Calgary,AB Canada 08-09-12
    Diane Austin Calgary,AB Canada 08-09-12
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    "One interesting listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes I would recommend this to a friend.
    Why? because I liked the audio book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It filled a history void for me.
    What really happened to the Romans and there empire.


    Which character – as performed by Lars Brownworth – was your favorite?

    No one character, maybe the different emperors over time.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Saddened at the end of the empire.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy Shepparton, Australia 03-25-11
    Jeremy Shepparton, Australia 03-25-11
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    "A must listen for any history buff"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Brooklyn, NY, USA 01-17-10
    Jeffrey Brooklyn, NY, USA 01-17-10 Member Since 2016
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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
  •  
    Tad Davis 02-16-10
    Tad Davis 02-16-10
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    "A "pretty good" summary"

    Lars Brownworth narrates his book with clarity but not much passion. It's a "pretty good" introduction to the subject and helps fill in some of the gaps left by Western Europe-oriented histories of the period. He isn't trying to do much more than that --his own stated aims for the book are modest -- and on its own terms it's reasonably successful.

    2 of 5 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

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