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Publisher's Summary

A major work on Roman policy toward the barbarians during one of the most exciting and challenging periods in the history of the Roman Empire, when barbarian soldiers became part of the forces defending the Roman frontier and gradually its rulers. By the close of these five decades, the Western Empire - hence Western Civilization - had changed forever.

A Selection of the History Book Club.

©1994 Thomas A. Burns (P)2015 Redwood Audiobooks

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  • Steve
  • Milwaukee, WI, United States
  • 12-27-15

Bad narration

I am typically not picky about narration, but the narrator is pretty brutal in this one. I'm talking odd pauses in the middle of sentences, emphasis where it doesn't belong, etc. It's almost as if some sort of editing software was used that repeats common words/terms or something. I couldn't get past the first few chapters, so I can't really comment on the content of the book itself.

My advice - stay away from this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Terrrrrible recording. Unlistenable.

What did you like best about Barbarians Within the Gates of Rome? What did you like least?

I tried listening to this for DAYS, but the narration is so unnatural and so chopped and clipped that I just had to return it. This is terrible. The pauses are barely there, and unnaturally short when they appear. The reader takes no time to separate one thought or paragraph from another, so you keep getting confused and needing to go back, and he reads so fast (and with a lot of grammatical inaccuracy) that it's hard to keep pace with all of the above.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Charles Craig?

Anyone. Else.

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Very poor naration

I loved the contents of the book, but the narrator is the worst I have encountered so far and by far. A decent text to speech program could have done as good or better.

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Beginning of the end for Rome

If you could sum up Barbarians Within the Gates of Rome in three words, what would they be?

Accurate, Historical, Detailed

What other book might you compare Barbarians Within the Gates of Rome to and why?

Emperor Valens
& the Barbarians

Which scene was your favorite?

Too many to isolate just one.

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

Historical Decline of the Roman Empire

Any additional comments?

None

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Fascinating story on Barbarians.

Takes an interesting look at a subject not often talked about in studies of the Roman Empire.

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  • Qaestor
  • 08-27-17

A brilliant narrative

What made the experience of listening to Barbarians Within the Gates of Rome the most enjoyable?

I think I know my fourth and fifth century history pretty well and have followed the literature and debates on the period in recent books as closely as I can. I have to confess that I had never heard of Thomas S Burns or this book, but after listening to this account I feel I know and understand the events which led up to the Sack of Rome (410) and the foundation of a Visigothic kingdom in south western Gaul in 418 very well. A crucial and confusing period has become familiar and comprehensible.

What did you like best about this story?

The narrative is clear, scholarly, and compelling. The account of Alaric's campaigns reminded me, with its cogency and tautness, of Norman Stone's classic account of a very different war, 'The Eastern Front' in World War One. Am I the only one who thinks it is truly masterly?

What about Charles Craig’s performance did you like?

It's clear but I was upset by his pronunciation of many Latin and Gothic names. 'Ammianus Marcellinus' ought not to come out as 'A-meen-us' for example. Why do readers never check these things?

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was frankly horrified. This is truly one of the great turning points in world history and Burns seems to pass an enormous magnifying glass over it, showing how human folly and selfishness (the Emperor Honorius) caused a misfortune to evolve steadily into a cataclysmic disaster which -- my view perhaps not Burns's-- might possibly have been avoided

Any additional comments?

I'd strongly recommend all readers of Late Roman History to ignore the reviews that some rival academics with much narrower vision have given Burns and read -- and enjoy --- this book. For me this book is a landmark in my understanding of the end of the Roman Empire in the West, to be read as a supplement to Peter Heather's great work. (But please can we go back to the old, normal, format for writing reviews. This new format seems a bit like Noddy in Toyland.