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Publisher's Summary

In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable, its vast territory accounting for most of the known world. By the end of the fifth century, Roman rule had vanished in Western Europe and much of northern Africa, and only a shrunken Eastern Empire remained. This was a period of remarkable personalities, from the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius to emperors like Diocletian, who portrayed themselves as tough, even brutal, soldiers. It was a time of revolutionary ideas, especially in religion, as Christianity went from persecuted sect to the religion of state and emperors. Ultimately, this is the story of how an empire without a serious rival rotted from within, its rulers and institutions putting short-term ambition and personal survival over the greater good of the state.

©2009 Adrian Goldsworthy (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This richly rewarding work will serve as an introduction to Roman history, but will also provide plenty of depth to satisfy the educated reader." ( Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall
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The tragic story of the fall of a great empire

What made the experience of listening to How Rome Fell the most enjoyable?

How comprehensive the story was. It began before Commodus and went past 476. This emphasized how the fall was not in a vacuum nor was it necessarily a true, catastrophic collapse.

What did you like best about this story?

It continually emphasized the facts instead of wide held societal beliefs. Each supposed cause of the fall of the Roman empire was examined and preconceived notions where attacked and discarded. It is very balanced and reasonable.

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

As with all my reviews of his work, he is an excellent narrator who can really bring the story to life.

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

They said it was un-filmable, and they where right

Any additional comments?

If you want a general overview of the narrative and potential causes of Rome's dissolution, this is an excellent source

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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he's got me convinced!

Would you listen to How Rome Fell again? Why?

Yes, and I might do that. I've read or listened to several recent books on this question, and Goldsworthy's argument is compelling. If every time you have a change of government, you have a devastating, depopulating civil war, and you have changes of government all the time, then it seems that you don't have to go very far to find out why Rome fell.Goldsworthy is really good at marshaling the evidence and not going beyond.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I did not have a favorite character.

Which character – as performed by Derek Perkins – was your favorite?

Derek Perkins is a fine narrator. I should add that I am not extraordinarily fastidious in that regard.

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

no, it is too long.

Any additional comments?

Goldsworthy is an excellent writer with fine analytical skills. He also wrote a terrific book on Julius Caesar, Life of a Colossus.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • AlexIndia
  • Fort Worth, TX, United States
  • 11-02-15

Full history run through

This was a great book. Covers all the emperors very well but does not get into tabloid history. Only criticism is that you really need a timeline to look at now and again to keep it all straight in your head.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful Story Teller

A very informative history of the Roman Empire from Augustus past the fall of the Western Empire in 476 thru Justinian! (A nice surprise!) It is truly amazing that the Western Empire lasted as long as it did thru numerous & almost constant civil wars!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well written, if idiosyncratic

A fine book by a fine historian, whose works are always welcome. Oddly bookended by long speculations as to the fate of the United States, perhaps unduly influenced by the proximity of the Iraq War and its aftermath to the time of publication. The core of the book—which gives more weight to internal decline and civil war than does, say, Peter Heather’s thesis—is well argued and beautifully narrated.

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  • vmhutch
  • Colchester, VT USA
  • 12-14-17

another great work from Adrian goldsworthy

this is my third work of nonfiction by Adrian goldsworthy that I've read this year. All of his books have been very rewarding. I even enjoyed his new novel. is biographies of Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar are must-reads, too.

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detailed narrative history, diffuse main points

More on history than analysis of reasons for fall, tough if you don't like history

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Adrian Goldsworthy continues to entertain.

After listening to and enjoying Goldsworthy's biography on the life of Augustus I decided to give this a try and I was surprised at how enthralled I was. It covers a period that I hadn't truly ever paid much attention to in the grand scheme of Roman history and it's written in an almost story format that kept me coming back for more.

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A deep and interesting look at an old topic

I've been a fan of Goldsworthy since his biography of Caesar, where he showed off his military history background by giving far more attention than usual to the man's maneuverings and tactics on the battlefield than other accounts usually do.

So I came into this book with high hopes and he did, to some degree, meet them. It's a pretty interesting romp through basically all the Emperors of Rome and their history and their endless political squabbles and the effect that had on the Roman republic. Goldsworthy creates a vision of a state that committed suicide more than it was killed by outside forces, a state that couldn't manage the endless succession crises and so changed in fundamental ways that didn't help it when it was finally beset by the barbarians assumed to have killed it.

AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

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  • William
  • Fort Worth, TX, USA
  • 07-04-16

very good

This book and the author's book on Julius Caesar both seem thoroughly researched and carefully written. I appreciate how throughout the books he informs the reader where the source material is weak/strong.

For me How Rome Fell would probably flow better in print. Because of the high level view necessary to capture all the characters involved, the names of people and places often rush by and I found myself having to go back to remember them. I don't find this a fault of the author or narrator, but the nature of the material.