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Rome at War AD 293-696 (Essential Histories series Book 21) (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Michael Whitby

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Présentation de l'éditeur

In the early third century AD the Roman Empire was a force to be reckoned with, controlling vast territories and wielding enormous political power from Scotland to the Sahara. 400 years later this mighty Empire was falling apart in the face of successive problems that the rulers failed to deal with.

In this challenging volume Michael Whitby tackles the fundamental issues (such as the rise of Christianity) that led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and offers a startling reassessment of the performance of the late Roman army.

The Osprey Guide To... series is a reworking of the popular Essential Histories series, now available as non-illustrated eBooks at a fantastic low price.

The maps and text remain the same, giving a strong historical overview of some of the most important conflicts and theatres of war from the ancient world through to modern times.

Biographie de l'auteur

Michael Whitby is Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Warwick. He is the author of The Emperor Maurice and his Historian, Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare (1988) and is co-editor of the forthcoming ‘Cambridge History of Ancient Warfare’ (2003/04). He is currently working on a study of Warfare and Society in the later Roman world.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 7118 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 96 pages
  • Utilisation simultanée de l'appareil : Illimité
  • Editeur : Osprey Publishing (4 juin 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°276.400 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  6 commentaires
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Very good! 29 mai 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This is a tightly organized book covering primarily the Eastern Roman Empire during the years indicated in the title of the book and using the standard format for this series. I'm quite familiar with this period, and found nothing essential left out--an amazing amount of material is covered in a minimum number of pages in a very readable manner. As indicated, the main focus of the book is the eastern empire, but the western empire is covered as relevant though the German successor kingdoms are not covered in detail. Highly recommended if you have any interest in this period at all.
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Ten Pounds of Data poured into a Five Pound Bag 24 janvier 2004
Par R. A Forczyk - Publié sur Amazon.com
Trying to summarize four very turbulent centuries that witnessed the decline of one of history's greatest empires into a short 90-page volume is a daunting task. In Osprey's Essential Histories #21, Rome at War Ad 293 - 696, British Professor Michael Whitby tries to compress a huge amount of material into this thin volume with mixed results. On the one hand, the author succeeds in summarizing most - but not all - of the main points about Imperial Rome's decline, yet the summarization is forced to exclude so much pertinent data that it reduces the overall value of this volume. Ultimately, even the novice Roman reader will be forced to consult other sources; it would have been better for Professor Whitby to cover two centuries in greater detail than four centuries in little more than outline format.
Professor Whitby begins Rome at War AD 293-696 with a short 3-page introduction; the author's underlying thesis is unclear although it appears to be an opposition to the "decline and fall" model that suggests that the disintegration of Roman hegemony was inevitable. Instead, Whitby suggests that Roman decline was not inevitable - at times it was even reversed - and that a complex variety of factors "undermined the fiscal and military structures which permitted the imperial machine to function". The section on background to war addresses Roman frontiers, taxes and trade. The section on opposing sides, which discusses the late Roman army, the Persians and the various Barbarian enemies, is quite good for its size. The main narrative is obviously constrained, having to cover four centuries in only 40 pages. The eleven maps supporting the text are: Roman provinces in AD 200-700; movement of Goths across Europe; Eastern frontier in the 4th Century; the battles of Argentoratum and Adrianople; Hunnic raids; Disintegration of the West; Eastern campaigns in the 6th Century; invasion of the Balkans in the 6th Century; Islamic conquests; and the Post-Roman West. A major disappointment is that there are no maps depicting the campaigns of Belisarius or Narses in the West, which were critical in salvaging something from the wreckage of the Western Empire. The 2-page bibliography is also decent, although hardly comprehensive.
Although the author disputes the inevitability of Roman decline, he fails to outline the main theories about the "decline and fall" model, such as the "barbarization" of the Roman army. While the author notes correctly that the Romans were able to "hold their own, partly through superior organization and training, partly through strong defenses, but above all by the strategy of trying to avoid simultaneous conflict on different frontiers," he never fully explains why the Romans lost these advantages over time. To be sure, the rise of very large Barbarian federations, such as the Huns and the Avars, made it difficult for the Romans to use their preferred "divide and conquer" tactics. However, the Romans had suffered far worse defeats at the hands of the Carthaginians and various Germanic tribes and recovered - Rome probably had greater ability to recover from disaster than any other state in history. Also, while the author makes clear that various factors combined to erode the Roman tax base and urban areas upon which Imperial power rested, it is not really clear how great this erosion was (the author should have used Susan Mattern's Rome and the Enemy, which discussed Roman budgets and its impact on the military at length). The author spends a fair amount of time discussing the role of Christianity in the late Empire, and it is interesting to see that Christianity was adopted by Roman leaders because they viewed it as useful to the state. Certainly, Whitby's assessment about whether or not Christianity hurt the empire (he suggests it may have helped revive it) does not follow the thesis set by Edward Gibbon more than two centuries ago.
However, for readers who seek greater detail about the military or even political aspects of the decline of the West Roman Empire, this volume fairs to deliver. It is particularly disappointing to see how little detail there is on Belisarius, one of the great captains in military history, major battles like Chalons, or major political figures like Justinian. Although Professor Whitby probably gets the broad nuances of Rome's decline in these pages, he lacked the space to fully develop these themes into a coherent narrative that explains why this decline occurred.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Mission Impossible results in Bare Bones 3 juin 2012
Par JPS - Publié sur Amazon.com
I very much agree with the reviewer who titled his review "Ten pounds of Data poured into a Five Pound Bag" and I would also give this book three stars, and now more. I would however come up with some slightly different elements, in addition to those he has made.

First, trying to pull together a summary covering four centuries of history into a 96 page book is not only a dauting challenge, it is rather "mission impossible". Even an author such as Michael Whitby is bound to fail, meaning that what you will get can only be a high level summary that barely scratches the surface - the bare bones with vey little flesh on them, in other words. It is arguable as to whether the author can be blamed for this or not. He can, in a way, simply for having accepted the assignment. Since he knows the period, he is also better placed than most to know that his product would be, at best, very high level, most would say superficial.

Second, it might be worth speculating a bit on the reasons for Whitby to do this, despite the risk he was taking. Whitby belongs to the school of thought of "Late Antiquity" and this is, I beleive, his reason for accepting to cover "Rome at War" over some 400 years. This school tends to insist upon continuity, rather than those who end the Roman Empire in 476, because they mainly focus on the fall of the Western half of the Roman Empire. So, this is a very different story than those told by Goldsworthy or Heather. It is not about the fall of Rome. It is about the continuity of the Roman Empire and of the idea of a unversal Empire, with Justinian attempting to reestablish direct domination on the West or "re-unifiy" the Empire, as if the "Barbarian" kingdoms in the West were mere vassal states that needed to be brought back in the fold. The choice of dates, which may seem odd at first, illustrates this emphasis on clow chnage and adaptation. The date of 293 is the beginning of Diocletian's tetrarchy, one of the first times (although not quite the first) when the existence of multiple and simultaneous rulers of the Empire was acknowledged. The second date is that of the fall of Carthage to the Arab conquerors and it is that Arab take-over of the southern coast of the Mediterranean that, for Whitby and his colleagues, marks the end of Antiquity.

Third, while such an approach is very interesting and has value, this book was clearly not the appropriate format to make such a case. Other reviewers have mentioned that the story should have made up two books instead of one. You could easily write 400 to 500 pages on the evolution of the Later Roman army and how it morphed into Justinian armies and then those of Heraklios (610 to 641) before changing again into what is sometimes called the "themes system" except that the setting up of the themes was ad hoc, progressive, and meant as a way tto sustain the armies that the bankcrupt Empire could not pay for in cash anymore, and not a system at all. So while some of the book's bits and pieces are very interesting, and Whitby, given these huge size constraints, does as good a job as possible, this is no more than a high level summary.

Fourth, even the bits that I liked the best - the little bios of the military and of the civilians - suffer quite a lot from Whitby's size constraints, to the extent that his selection of characters, while interesting, aslo looks somewhat arbitrary. For the portraits of Soldiers, the supposed "brother in arms" (although I am not quite sure that this title is really appropriate) we have Abbinaeus, a very nice touch since he was a garrison commander as opposed to one of the top generals, and Narses, Justinian's chamberlain turned general and military dictator of Italy, once he had reconquered it. However, we also have Alaric, portrayed as a Roman officer, and Theodoric, the King of the Ostrogoths. Including the latter two corresponds to the author's emphasis on "Roman continuity". However, it also comes at the expense of including other noteworthy generals whose carrers were perhaps better exemplars of their attachment to the Empire. You could think of Stilicho and Aetius in the West, and of Belisarios, in the East.

A similar point can be made for the choice of civilians. Whitby proposes Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (Western Empire), Symeon, ascetic and Saint (Eastern Empire), John the Lydian (Eastern), Cassiodorus (Western), with the latter two being two top civil servants in the Est and serving the Ostrogoth king, respectively, and Antonina, wife of Belisarios. Here again, while the cast of characters is both good and interesting, alternatives that could have been just as good and interesting were possible and their absence is a pity. One of the Anicii family in the West, to illustrate the HUGE fortunes accumulated by the old senatorial families by the time that Rome lost its last Emperor in 476 and the economical, fiscal and political problems arising from such inequality in the West, could have been very useful, but this would have undermined somewhat the idea of continuity that the author was arguing about. Instead of Ambrose, we could have had Augustine, Bishop of Hippone who died in the city while it was besieged by the Vandals in 430s, and a near contemporary of Ambrose. This, again, would not have suited the author's purpose by emphasizing the fall of the West rather than the increasing influence of the Church, an element of continuity. Instead of Symeon the ascete, we could have had Eusebius, one of the "founding fathers" of the Church under Constantine and instead of Antonina, whose presence almost seems to excuse the absence of her more famous husband from the list of military men, we could have had Hypatia of Alexandria (the heroïn in the film Agora). Again, this would have shown conflict and somewhat brutal and forced revolution, instead of the gradual change that Whitby wanted to demonstrate.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Good 18 août 2005
Par km86617 - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book gives a concise summary of the Roman revival under Diocletion and Constantine, the decline of the Western Empire, and the rejuvination of the east that came with Justinian's reconquest of Italy and Northern Africa from the Germanic tribes.

Extras include: passages from contemporary sources, good maps, photos, and a few artistic illustrations.
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good read 29 juillet 2014
Par Scr - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
Short history of the tumultuous end of the Roman Empire. I enjoyed it. A good study for US History students.
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