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The Fall of the Roman Empire

A New History of Rome and the Barbarians
Narrated by: Allan Robertson
Length: 21 hrs and 43 mins
Categories: History, Ancient
4 out of 5 stars (379 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors Rome called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling an Empire that had dominated their lives for so long. A leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe's barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome's European frontiers, to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the Empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees.

The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378, and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain, before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the Western Empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandals' defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada: the west's last chance for survival.

Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians.

©2006 Peter Heather (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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A good book not ideally suited to audiobook format

A very detailed account of the fall of the Roman Empire. If I had the printed book in my hands I would likely give it 5 stars. The mass of detail made me wish that I could flip back and forth in the book to recheck dates and see which of masses of unfamiliar and unpronounceable names had come up before. In addition I wished for maps or illustrations to give a better idea of where all the locations of the narrative were situated. In sum, I found it a very good account that was not ideally suited for the audiobook mode of presentation. I found the author's thesis and particular viewpoint of this period of history compelling and convincing. I learned much that I did not know before, which was my goal, albeit accompanied by some frustration.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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What Happened?

Would you listen to The Fall of the Roman Empire again? Why?

This is a well written, informative and engaging book that is well worth the time of anyone interested in the Roman Empire and its demise. Like all history, the devil is in the details, and not as simplistic as individuals may want to think of it. Was the Empire brought down by its own decadence? or had it simply overreached so much to a be unable to deal with increasingly sophisticated "barbarians"who began to use its own tactics and weapons against the mighty legions. It's amazing how quickly the empire went from a strong and organized entity to desolate ruins. The narrator, Allen Robertson, projects this story with a excellent voice.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A very interesting listen

Probably one of the most comprehensive histories of the fall of Rome, I've read. I am captivated by how a superpower, whose culture, however violent, was centuries beyond those who sought to destroy it, yet was in the end, brought down by them.

This book demonstrates how Roman corruption, imperialism, and foriegn aid all contributed to their ultimate demise. The fall of Rome didn't happen suddenly or easily, but was the result of a wearing down of the government by internal and external forces working together. So prescient for us today.

The performance was great. A bit slow for me, but with Audible I was easily able to fix that. What I appreciate most in Allan Robertson's read is his and pronounciation. An enjoyable experience.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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An outstanding historical narrative

Where does The Fall of the Roman Empire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the best Audiobook I've listened to. Even without knowing the topic in advance, everything is put forward in a clear and efficient manner. It is also good as history, because the evidence is described for what it is and counter-arguments are considered. If you're interested in the fall of the western Roman empire, I think this is a necessary listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 05-20-15

Enthralling

First, let me gripe. I would have enjoyed this massive analysis better with maps of ancient and modern Europe/Africa in front of me. And given the necessary scope of characters, it would have been better to be able to page back from time to time to refresh my memory regarding one or another of the many important actors in this drama.

Okay... but even with those large reservations, I am far better informed than ever before in my life of the causes for Rome's deterioration and collapse. And Heather's prose work hard against the academic historian's training to write in colorless code. This is not a text book, yet it is not a novel. I feel that a friend took the time to tell me what he's learned in useful detail about a grand puzzle. Like, "The Swerve" I recommend Heather's book and Allan Robertson's reading to anyone more than just modestly curious about how the greatest ancient civilization died.

And its meaning to us.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • john
  • Battery Point, Australia
  • 04-03-15

Loved it

Really interesting popular history with a commonsensical approach to the subject in hand and enough detail to keep it compelling without being overwhelming.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mario
  • Vallejo, CA, United States
  • 03-28-14

A New HIstory but not a better history

What disappointed you about The Fall of the Roman Empire?

I have enjoyed several book books on the Roman Empire and on Roman emperors. I am particularly fascinated by the last 150 years of the empire and the decline of the imperial state. This book focuses so narrowly on the barbarian invasions (which certainly played a key role) that it does not give me any consistent idea of the succession of emperors and the lost of governmental control over the provinces that occurred. It is well intended but could have been much better edited to create a more informative text.

I was greatly disappointed.

What could Peter Heather have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

He focused too much on the barbarian invasions without clearly identifying the Roman emperors. I had no sense of life in Roman during this time. I have heard other texts that give me a clear sense of the nature of the imperial government and the personalities involved. He focused so narrowly on the barbarian tribes without describing the individual leaders of the Roman empire.

13 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Good Science Makes Better History

This is a stupendous history of the late Roman empire . It challenges Gibbons' history and its Enlightenment ideology with a more careful observation of data from archaeology as well as the ancient literature. I loved it.

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Great Book

I absolutely loved this book. It was clear and concise when it mattered and went in depth when I wanted it to, mostly. I wish the author would've gone more in depth with a couple key events in the story that I felt needed to be examined or talked about more, and the author was a little repetitive at times but other than that, stellar book. Not too stuffy, not a lot of big words were used yet I learned a lot. I would recommend for beginners in history. Don't let the first few chapters of examining the Roman world daunt you. They are boring but necessary to understanding the story of the fall . The author gets into telling the story at chapter 4. I would not recommend listening to this without the book in front of you, as you will find yourself having to rewind quite a bit, as the pace of the story moves quite fast at times. The narrator's voice was clear and emphasized what needed to be.

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Not for beginners

The central thesis has merit and the evidence is presented to support it, but a light tread through Roman History this is not. If you already know the broader strokes of the 4th and 5th centuries you will find interesting primary sources presented and a detailed look at specific incidents, but it is very long and at times overly tedious. If you like history and want to learn more I can say he provides a fresh perspective, but if you want a fun narrative history a la Tom Holland look elsewhere.

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  • Mrs. E. Fairhead
  • 03-19-15

A fascinating listen

I was gripped by this account. It is very clear and persuasive. It illuminates a period which as a traditional classicist I have always wondered about. Peter Heather occasionally throws in fascinating analogies from more recent periods. He also depicts his subjects, Roman and barbarian, vividly and often amusingly, colouring what sometimes comes across as a huge sweep of history told with almost tragic intensity

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 10-11-17

tough history

I am ignorant but my feeling is that the history is very sound and Heather's explanation of the Fall makes perfect sense. Why not 5 stars:
1. It is heavy going for the uninitiated because there so few main "characters" and to a lesser extent places, which are familiar and thereby memorable.
2. I am ashamed to say that I prefer British narrators / pronunciation.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr D J Mannion
  • 07-20-15

A pure History Lesson

Would you listen to The Fall of the Roman Empire again? Why?

It was pitched at a level I could understand,it brought history to life for me

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Fall of the Roman Empire?

The sack of Rome, it was unbelievable.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Too many to mention

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

unpatriotic land owning classes

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kdl
  • 02-09-15

Detailed chronology

Excellent detailed and thoroughly researched - a brilliant book and very well narrated - I listen to it again and again. Anyone interested in Roman history will love this book

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan Mcmeechan
  • 08-13-19

Very in-depth and well narrated

Enjoyed this so much, immediately re-listened to it, there is so much detail. It is well paced and narrated. Highly recommend it, if Roman /early medieval history is of interest.

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  • Mr. R. J. Lucas
  • 01-07-18

review

Compelling and elegant argumentation, giving a clear-eyed picture of the world the time, and drawing interesting conclusions from recent findings that were unavailable to Gibbon etc. Some embarrassing mispronunciations in the narration.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-21-17

Aargh

Oh dear. I was so looking forward to this as I was struggling to get through the printed version for one reason or another.
I think it will take me some considerable time to get used to the American presenter and pronunciation.
I'd say I was a tolerant soul but at the moment I'm finding it unlistenable... ☹️

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  • IanESJ
  • 07-22-18

Really too long, could have been wrapped up in 3 chapters.

TL;DR
Rome got too big for its boots, couldn’t keep all its plates spinning, let the foreigners get a bit too cocky. Ran out of money. Ok. 4 chapters.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Owen, Dublin
  • 04-23-17

Tedious

Tribes and years. Hard work listening to it. Ideal sleeping tonic.
Disappointed as Roman history has always interested me.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Shane
  • 05-29-16

From an Alternative Perspective

This book will be a godsend to anyone who has finished The History of Rome podcast by Mike Duncan. It goes into more depth about the fall of the empire and the thesis is incredibly interesting. By giving the "barbarians" agency it really gives a more 3 dimensional image of the time period.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful