Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development, and the Birth of Europe Hardcover – Apr 3 2010
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"An awesomely ambitious work: an attempt, in the heroic tradition of Pirenne, to make sense of nothing less than the reshaping of antiquity, and the origins of modern Europe.... Heather is a wonderfully fluent writer, with a consistent ability to grab hold of his readers attention. The result
is a book which richly merits reading by those interested in the future of Europe as well as its past."
--Tom Holland, BBC History Magazine
About the Author
Peter Heather is Professor of Medieval History at King's College London. He is the author of The Fall of the Roman Empire, Goths and Romans, 332-489, The Goths, and The Visigoths in the Migration Period.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If I might be so bold as to summarize what I see to be the author's central theme: Heather believes that the wealth of the Roman Empire quite naturally flowed into the lands beyond the Empire's border (through trade, if nothing else), that increase in wealth inevitably resulting in social inequalities and complexities in those neighboring cultures. This new wealth permitted some individuals to assemble small bands of elite warriors that permitted those individuals to amass even more wealth and gain additional stature (and possibly raid within the Empire to seize even more wealth). Over time, these warrior bands grew and combined in pursuit of greater ambitions towards more wealth, until the Empire itself was overwhelmed. These coalitions in turn provided a basis for the rise of powerful post-Roman states. A similar, but later process led to Slavic dominance in Central and Eastern Europe. Of course, Heather's anaysis is far more complex and subtle that this brief summary and deserves to be closely studied.
I have my Master's Degree in ancient history and studying the Fall of the Roman Empire is one of my favorite topics to study within Classical Europe. I must say this is a powerful book and would recommend it to anyone who ponders the "fall" of the Roman Empire. It is antithetical to the rather popular theory that the Roman Empire "transformed" (i.e., Professor Peter Brown) rather than fell eventhough that theory has some very powerful insights as well. I would also recommend this book in conjunction with Brian Ward-Perkins, "The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Death of a Civilization" as well as any other of Peter Heather's books!!
There is one problem with the book, however.
There are several references in the book to Plates for illustrations accompanying the text.
There is even a page with picture acknowledgements.
BUT, except for the the addended maps, there is not a single illustration in the entire book!
I searched for the title on the OUP website and found the following:
Empires and Barbarians
The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe
Hardback, 752 pages
The volume in my posession has only 734 pages!
Does everyone else who has read the book have the same problem? Or do I somehow have the British edition dressed in American clothing? Still, why reference illustrations if there aren't any?
Of particular note is the analysis of the veracity of Roman source materials and the melding of archaeological evidence with these sources. This is a marriage of source materials not often seen conducted with such effect. They significantly enhance the credibility of Mr. Heather's analysis.
I also noticed the same issue concerning references to plates that another reviewer found. Although plates are mentioned, they do not exist in the book.