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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1 Audiobook

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1

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Publisher's Summary

Considered one of the finest historical works in the English language, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is lauded for its graceful, elegant prose style as much as for its epic scope. Remarkably accurate for its day, Gibbon's treatise holds a high place in the history of literature and remains an enduring subject of study.

Gibbon's monumental work traces the history of more than 13 centuries, covering the great events as well as the general historical progression. This first volume covers A.D. 180 to A.D. 395, which includes the establishment of Christianity and the Crusades.

(P)1992 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[Gibbon] stood on the summit of the Renaissance achievement and looked back over the waste of history to ancient Rome, as from one mountain top to another." (Christopher Dawson)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (408 )
5 star
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4.0 (247 )
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Story
3.6 (245 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    E. W. Littlefield, Jr. Arlington, WA USA 02-15-13
    E. W. Littlefield, Jr. Arlington, WA USA 02-15-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Bravo Bernard Mayes!"
    If you could sum up The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1 in three words, what would they be?

    sublimely written classic


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1?

    Caracalla murdering his younger brother, Geta, in front of their mother and then murdering near 20,000 people who might possibly have had anything to do with Geta. As foul and loathsome as humans can get. The bloodbaths of imperial regime changes must rank as one of the darkest moments of the human experience.


    What does Bernard Mayes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It would be my hope that he pronounced names and words correctly. I have heard other readers who mispronounced words that appeared regularly in the text. The usually excellent reader of the Patrick O'Brien Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick Tull, mispronounces "bowsprit." This important and frequently referred to "bowsprit" is the "mast" that protrudes horizontally from the front of the ship, referred to as the "bow", pronounced like "bough" of a tree...or as dogs say, in "bow-wow." Alas, Mr. Tull pronounces "bow" as in "bow and arrow." Generally, my friends very much applaud Patrick Tull's reading.


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

    This classic work is notable that the reader may open the work just about anywhere, read and be entertained, delighted, enlightened. It doesn't get better than this.


    Any additional comments?

    The decision of over two centuries is pretty much in: It is a classic. The depth of Gibbon's research, study, eloquence, and philosophical wisdom has won this work the just praise of thoughtful readers and will continue to do so. As long time resident of Frostbite Falls, MN, Mr. Bullwinkle J. Moose, observed to his pal, Rocky, "Ya just can't beat the classics!" Amen!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bradley Santa Cruz, US, Canada 11-06-09
    Bradley Santa Cruz, US, Canada 11-06-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Not just about Rome"

    This book covers not just battles and kings, but culture, religion and reasons for conflict. The author uses primary sources and is a 19th century "age of reason" Englishman. This means he is a bit condescending to women and thinks constitutional monarchy is the best guaranter of freedom, but aside from that he is astonishingly fair and balanced about his treatment of the diverse religions and cultures of Romans, Byzantines, Germanic and Steppes tribes, Franks and Germans, Arab Moslems, Turkish Moslems, North Africans (pre and post Moslem) and of all the flavors of religion from Pagan to Jew to zillions of Christian flavors to Moslem that interacted between the time of Augustus and 17th century.

    He has a kind of dry humor and sarcasm that he applies to everything equally. He's consistent about the virtues he admires or the faults he deplores regardless of religion or culture. This series also has the most objective view of the Crusades I've ever read.

    At about $1 per hour of listening it is a tremendous value if you are at all interested in the history of the western world from about the birth of Christ and the origins of a lot of the current problems in the Middle East.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Austin, TX 08-09-13
    Doug Austin, TX 08-09-13 Member Since 2015
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    "A Tea Kettle Narrator"

    The book is great. But I couldn't get through it. The narrator whistles on his S's and it became unbearable. There were times my shoulders popped up to my ears as I tried to follow sentences like "some soldiers in the service of Caesar were sent to Sicily...." OUCH lol. I'll just have to read this one the old fashion way.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DC Churbuck Cape Cod, Mass. USA 10-17-12
    DC Churbuck Cape Cod, Mass. USA 10-17-12 Member Since 2014

    David

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    "A masterpiece of historical literature"
    Where does The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is my first audible book and audiobook experience and what a great introduction to the medium.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Emperor Julian the Apostate: the last non-Christian of the Roman Empire. An outstanding general, scholar and philosopher.


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

    No. He is a wonderful narrator.


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

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    Many hours but so worthwhile. The Decline and Fall made many a weekly drive from Cape Cod to New York City something to look forward to and not dread.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Knoxville, MD, United States 01-25-08
    Bruce Knoxville, MD, United States 01-25-08 Member Since 2007

    Poet, Writer, Novice Planetary Scientist, Musician, Hooligan, Former Audience Guy, Protector of Stupid Princesses.

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    "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery"

    This is going to take some time. -- The recording is old-school, and the narrator is very British and I found his voice soothing and calming. This helped me relax, but I couldn't remember what I was learning. If you want an audio recording of this book, it isn't bad, but I couldn't use it to pass time while driving. It made me sleepy. I'll finish it, but slow and steady in bits and pieces. I wish I hadn't used my credits on this one, but I will finish it and be glad when I am done.

    19 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 10-12-08
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 10-12-08 Member Since 2014

    OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!

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    "TEDIOUS TO LISTEN TO"

    I love any kind of history but this is very hard to listen to due to the droning, monotonous tone of the narrator. I was just about to purchase Volumes II and III but I can't get through the first few hours of this part! What I did hear is very well researched. It could be a lot more interesting with a narrator like Charlton Griffin ("The Roman", "Genghis Khan", "Alexander of Macedon") who has a superb voice for ancient history.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh Westfield, NJ, USA 01-18-08
    Raleigh Westfield, NJ, USA 01-18-08
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    "Decline and Fall I"

    A 5 for Gibbon and a 3 for narrator Bernard Mayes, whose English is barely comprehensible. (Average rating of 4.) The Mayes problem is the charateristic, and maddening, British propensity to drop all r's, coupled with Mayes' habit of rarely stopping for a breath between sentences, let alone between paragraphs. It's a chore--but doable.

    12 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim the Music Lover USA 10-03-13 Member Since 2015

    Kim

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    "A Classic - We Should Always Remember"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1 to be better than the print version?

    It is different to listen to Decline and Fall than to read it. Listening to it allows one to experience the visualization of fight scenes and what was going on in a stronger way. I've owned a copy of the full series since I was 14 and this is a beautiful accompaniment to the written version.


    What other book might you compare The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1 to and why?

    This stands alone as an epic classic.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The World Will Continue These Tales for Generations to Come...


    Any additional comments?

    If you are not afraid of the sheer mass of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - get this and listen away... you will have adventure, intrigue and hours of listening pleasure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael Long Beach, CA, United States 06-16-13
    michael Long Beach, CA, United States 06-16-13
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    "Wonderful writing brilliantly read"

    Well done. Its a great book and Bernard Mayes is up to the daunting task of reading it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandy 06-20-12
    Sandy 06-20-12

    Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.

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    "Like other reviewers, and,"

    I do sometimes wonder what Gibbons sources were. And having an index would be great too.
    With all three volumes, I am searching to refresh my memory on ..............
    "I know such and such is there , I heard it, but where is it, let alone what volume?"

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • melmoth2
    1/28/08
    Overall
    "Stupendous"

    I've been hanging on for an unabridged version of Gibbon for a while now and this well worth the wait. Some may find Bernard Mayes' delivery a little dry but the reprise of his slightly grandfatherly delivery from Herodotus' Histories suits Gibbon's prose perfectly. I'm not sure what edition is being used, I would guess it's the Penguin. The only gripe is that Gibbon's introduction is missing, as are the copious footnotes, but then constant digressions, as entertaining as they are in the original, probably wouldn't work in audio form. Highly recommended.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Natalia
    United Kingdom
    9/4/13
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    Performance
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    "Great book, poor recording"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    This is one of the classics of the genre, and despite it's reputation for being dry and dusty is actually quite interesting with a wry sense of humour in places.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    I am already a great fan of books about Roman history, so reading one that is so important to books that came after just makes me want to read more.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    It really is the kind of style that you either enjoy it or hate it.


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    While the narrator is okay, the sound quality is woeful - at times it sounds like there is another person reading in the background or that this has been copied over another recording!


    Do you have any additional comments?

    It is a shame that such a great book is let down by such bad recording quality.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • PFK
    UK
    3/20/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very poor sound quality"
    Where does The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The book is one I was really looking forward to. Sadly the recording appears to be very old. It sounds like an ancient cassette tape and would have benefited from cleaning up. It is very difficult to listen to - I might persist for a few minutes, but not for a long, long book like this.


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Bernard Mayes?

    The reader was probably good but the poor sound quality made it hard to tell.


    Any additional comments?

    I gave up after about ten minutes - with regret.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • andslau
    England
    10/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Poor quality audio"
    What disappointed you about The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1?

    The quality of the audio is rather poor.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is Gibbon's elegantly written epic work - difficult to fault.


    What does Bernard Mayes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    The narrator was excellent but unfortunately let down by the quality of the recording. It was bearable for a few minutes but started to grate fairly quickly.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • andrew
    darlington, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Beautifully written, strangely read!"

    This book is widely regarded as being one of the most beautifully written in the English language. This spoken version sounds rather odd to the modern ear as the narrator gives the impression of having recorded it whilst having a glass of brandy dressed in a silk smoking jacket! Very upper middle class! Once you become accustomed to the rather homely style however, the language shines through and you begin to focus rather more on the subject matter and less on the delivery. I do feel this is a book for those already accustomed with Roman history rather than a 'beginner 's guide' so would recommend it to those who wish to expand their knowledge, not those starting their exploration.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A. Dufficy
    12/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Epic History from Enlightenment Genius"
    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I'm going to hazard a guess that that feat would be impossible. Especially considering that this is only part one of a three thousand page opus.


    Any additional comments?

    If Gibbon's history is a work you've always wanted to attempt (or even if you're hearing about it for the first time) this is a uniquely approachable way of experiencing a magisterial work of literature. It is quite an undertaking, but hugely rewarding and absolutely unforgettable. Gibbon takes six full volumes to cover the thirteen centuries from the Age of the Antonines to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. He was meticulous in his use of primary sources, which means his history has dated very well over the centuries. It works best if you close your eyes and imagine the great historian is telling you the story personally and confidentially. Our Roman History lecturer attempted to get us to read Gibbon by informing us that Iggy Pop said in an interview that as he was getting older, following a gig he would relax and unwind by reading the Decline and Fall. Churchill expanded his education by reading Gibbon. It probably contributed to his own rhetorical and prose style (he had hated his own school years). It was almost required reading for British Colonial officials and military officers in order that they would learn and avoid the mistakes the Roman Imperialists had made. Gibbon's "Memoirs of My Life" is also a superb work (and much shorter). One could be pompous and assert that an education is incomplete without having read (or listened to) the Decline and Fall. However, I couldn't say that here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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