The Ruin of the Roman Empire
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The Ruin of the Roman Empire : A New History

By (author) James J O'Donnell

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The dream Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar shared of uniting Europe, the Medi-terranean, and the Middle East in a single community shuddered and then collapsed in the wars and disasters of the sixth century. Historian and classicist James J. O'Donnell--who last brought readers his masterful, disturbing, and revelatory biography of Saint Augustine--revisits this old story in a fresh way, bringing home its sometimes painful relevance to today's issues.With unexpected detail and in his hauntingly vivid style, O'Donnell begins at a time of apparent Roman revival and brings readers to the moment of imminent collapse that just preceded the rise of Islam. Illegal migrations of peoples, religious wars, global pandemics, and the temptations of empire: Rome's end foreshadows today's crises and offers hints how to navigate them--if present leaders will heed this story.

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  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 27.94mm | 476.27g
  • 01 Sep 2009
  • Ecco Press
  • New York, NY
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0060787414
  • 9780060787417
  • 489,904

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Review quote

"An exotic and instructive tale, told with life, learning and just the right measure of laughter on every page. O'Donnell combines a historian's mastery of substance with a born storyteller's sense of style to create a magnificent work of art. Perfect for history-lovers and admirers of great writing alike."--Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

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Customer reviews

Final collapse of the Roman West

Starting at AD 500: the empire which has not fallen, O'Donnell looks at the succession of Goth rulers, who because they did not claim the title of Emperor but simply kings of Italy, do not figure in 'standard' accounts of the fall of the Roman west. However, just as many recognised Emperors were not Italian Romans, Odoacer and especially Theodoric, ruled reasonably well, restoring much of what was Roman in Italy and the city of Rome. O'Donnell's thesis is that it all became unstuck in the sixth century with the ill-advised attempt by the Eastern Emperor, Justinian I, to re-conquer the west, where initial success had a ruinous longer term effect on the west.show more
by Robert C Warn