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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

Teasingly stimulating, acutely critical, abundantly constructive, and certain to unleash endless debate. (Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of Civilizations and Millennium)

This hard-hitting and beautifully written assessment will, I am delighted to say, cause a great deal of trouble. (The Sunday Telegraph)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Why did Rome fall? Vicious barbarian invasions during the fifth century resulted in the cataclysmic end of the world's most powerful civilization, and a 'dark age' for its conquered peoples. Or did it? The dominant view of this period today is that the 'fall of Rome' was a largely peaceful transition to Germanic rule, and the start of a positive cultural transformation. Bryan Ward-Perkins encourages every reader to think again by reclaiming the drama and violence of the last days of the Roman world, and reminding us of the very real horrors of barbarian occupation. Attacking new sources with relish and making use of a range of contemporary archaeological evidence, he looks at both the wider explanations for the disintegration of the Roman world and also the consequences for the lives of everyday Romans, in a world of economic collapse, marauding barbarians, and the rise of a new religious orthodoxy. He also looks at how and why successive generations have understood this period differently, and why the story is still so significant today.


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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 256 pages
  • Editeur : OUP Oxford; Édition : New Ed (13 juillet 2006)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0192807285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192807281
  • Dimensions du produit: 19,3 x 1,3 x 12,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 22.477 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par T. FRANCIS sur 6 mars 2008
Format: Broché
Fascinant et pertinent, extrêmement bien documenté, ce livre nous montre concrètement comment une société très évoluée et organisée telle que l'était la société romaine peut se trouver entraînée dans une régression majeure de ses structures économiques et sociales, de sa culture, ... qui ne retrouveront leur niveau que plusieurs siècles (voire plus de mille ans) plus tard.
L'auteur s'est livré à des études approfondies de l'évolution dans le temps de la circulation de monnaie, de la diffusion des objets manufacturés (poteries, matériaux, etc ...), de l'alphabétisme.
Il est intéressant de comprendre pourquoi la régression a été brutale dans certaines régions de l'ex-empire et beaucoup moins dans d'autres.
Une lecture indispensable pour ceux qui cherchent à comprendre pourquoi le niveau de raffinement de la société romaine qu'on a devant soi à Pompéi et Herculanum a été perdu pour plus de mille ans.
Accessoirement, ce livre permet aussi de réaliser que notre société actuelle si évoluée n'est peut-être pas aussi éternelle qu'on voudrait le croire.
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Nicolas284 sur 18 mai 2014
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Très bien documenté et vraiment intéressant. Les illustrations sont très parlantes également. C'est effrayant de voir comment cet empire s'est effondré
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189 internautes sur 200 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Manslaughter; not murder! 18 septembre 2005
Par Daniel Weitz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
"The invaders were not guilty of murder, but they had committed manslaughter." So says Bryan Ward-Perkins in an entertaining and stimulating historical monograph. He attacks, among other things the post- World War II politically correct thesis that the Germans reached as easy accomodation with the Romans and together they worked hand-in-hand to transform Europe into the 6th century version of a "Brave New World".

He gives substantial proof for the declining quality of life in the 5th century, and bases his work primarily on archaeologial remains and pottery studies that are often ignored by the text-centered classical scholar. It had never really occurred to me think of the significance of the lack of copper coins after the decline of the Empire, or the change in pottery finds. My doctorate is on the fall of Rome, and I plan to use this as a text the next time I teach the course. It is well illustrated, written with great wit and is brief enough to hold the interest of any student. The only odd thing about this book is that it does not mention the 80 year old "Pirenne Thesis" on the collapse of Mediterranean trade; he does however, give Peter Brown and the contemporary American "spiritual enlightenment and rebirth" school a good thrashing!
228 internautes sur 248 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"Pots, tiles and coins" - The end of comfort 9 septembre 2005
Par T. MacFarlane - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Bryan Ward-Perkins is concerned with impact of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire on the standard of living, or what he calls "the loss of comfort."

Seen from this standpoint, the end of Rome was the end of the world's first complex, specialised economy.

He is careful to explain that the end of the Roman Empire was not a uniform process, and that the Eastern half of the empire continued to flourish until the time of the Arab attacks in the seventh century AD.

He uses three instances: pottery, roof tiles, and coinage, to demonstrate the material changes which took place.

The use of pottery was widespread throughout the Empire, it was not solely the preserve of the elite, its manufacture was industrial, and its quality was excellent.

In provinces like Britain the availability of sophisticated, mass produced, quality pottery simply disappeared.

The skills and technology were lost. (Well the German invaders never had them!)

Tiled roofs do not catch fire, they do not attract insects, and they do not need replacing every thirty years. In Britain, " ... the quarrying of building stone, preparation of mortar, manufacture and use of bricks and tiles ... " all ceased.

Coins are the hallmark of economic sophistication: in Roman times they were "a standard feature of everyday

life ... " Their disappearance meant the disappearance of economic complexity, and in the West this was "almost total".

These three instances highlight the loss of specialisation, and as the author points out, specialisation depends on

"a sophisticated network of transport and commerce ... in order to distribute ... goods efficiently and widely."

But the frontiers were no longer secure, the countryside was more dangerous, and walls started to re-appear round cities. Traders who would have journeyed safely along the empire's highways find them no longer secure. The world's first intricate interlocking economy was unravelling.

In this situation, specialization actually posed a serious danger: " ... its very sophistication rendered it ... less adaptable to change." Indeed, the author argues that countries like Britain went back to less-sophisticated levels that those which had existed before the Roman invasion:

"It took centuries for people in the former empire to reacquire the skills and regional networks that would

take them back to these pre-Roman levels of sophistication. Ironically, viewed from the perspective of fifth-century Britain and of most of the sixth- and seventh-century Mediterranean, the Roman experience had been highly damaging."

Did the population also decline? Here the author admits that evidence is hard to find, since poorer communities leave little if any trace of their existence. However, the he uses evidence from Syria to argue that as farming became less specialist, and only local needs could be met, there was a decline in acreage cultivated.

He cites the remarkable shrinkage in the average size of cattle, from a growth in size between the Iron Age and the Roman period, to a decline below the size of Iron Age cattle afterwards.

The last section examines the differing historical interpretations of the end of the Roman Empire, and the way in which they are linked to the world-view of their protagonists.

First there is the Marxist view. The collapse of the Roman Empire marked the end of the imperial exploitation of the lower classes, and slaves.

Whilst not denying the huge differences in wealth - such as there are in Western countries today! - he believes that "basic good-quality items (were) available right down the social scale."

He further points out that Anglo-Saxon England, for example, was manifestly not an egalitarian paradise.

Then there is the intriguing case of the European Union, which appears to need the end of Rome to have been a peaceful transition. The German 'invaders' of the fifth century AD are no longer allowed to be the barbarians "assassinating" the empire, rather a Romano-German world came peacefully into existence. Hence the hallowed place of Charlemagne in the EU's pantheon.

The 'fall' of Rome also coincided with the rise of Christianity, therefore the so-called "Dark Ages" were not 'dark' at all. This was the period when the western `invaders' were converted. This was the age of saints, like St Bede, an age of spirituality.

Lastly, all cultures are now equal, so the notion that Rome "fell" implies its superiority: Roman = Civilised, Barbarian = Uncivilised. Cultures should not be judged in that way.

Bryan Ward-Perkins acknowledges these problems, and reiterates that he is writing from a material standpoint.

What this book does not set out to discuss is why the Empire fell, but it offers a prescient warning to a later more complex world: its citizens could not entertain the idea that its collapse was possible.

The author has combined his scholarship with a passion and commitment to his subject: this is one of the most stimulating history books I have read in a very long time.
49 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Simply brilliant. Buy this book today! 4 juillet 2006
Par P. V. Holley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book is, quite simply, one of the finest history books I have ever read (and I am an avid history fan). I wish more academic writers had both the will and the ability to write as clearly and with as much flaire as Bryan Ward Perkins in this book. Sadly, it is a skill that is lacked by many of them; yet this only makes the author's achievement all the greater. Perkins does not go in for the obfuscating style that sometimes plagues academic writing. He does not need to hide behind dense terminology - he explains his ideas confidently and in plain English. I truly believe that this excellent book deserves a five star review rating.

In short, I urge you with all possible enthusiasm to buy this book today!
56 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Roman Civilization Really Did "Fall." 19 mars 2006
Par Fred W. Hallberg - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I came to Bryan Ward-Perkins' work indirectly, through reading Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason." Stark argues the reason for the superiority of Western culture is the Christian religion, especially the Catholic Christian religion with its emphasis on the (alleged) rationality of God and on the goodness of creation.

Stark's Christian triumphalism requires him to attack the classic account of the "Decline and Fall" of Western Roman Civilization by Edward Gibbion. Gibbon argued (in 1776) that the "useless" activities of the monasteries and churches in the 5th Century required so much labor and wealth that little was left over to fend off the barbarians. The fall of Rome, Gibbon concluded, "was a triumph of barbarism and religion." (Amazon sells a nice little summary of Gibbon's views entitled "Christians and the Fall of Rome.")

Stark dissents from Gibbon's view, arguing that there had been no "fall" of civilization in the 5th Century. There had simply been a cultural segue from one type of social organization (Roman) to another (feudal society featuring monasteries and local castles).

I had never heard anyone seriously deny there had been a "fall" of Roman civilization in the 5th Century, and I did not know enough at that time to contest his ideas. Then while in a waiting room, I came across an article by Ward-Perkins in the magazine "History Today" (as I recall its title). Ward-Perkins briefly laid out the issue between the defenders of the "discontinuity thesis" (like Gibbon) and the defenders of the "continuity thesis" (which included historians like the Oxford historian Peter Brown and of course Rodney Stark).

Bryan Ward-Perkin's book, "The Fall of Rome," is a compact and easily understood exposition of this issue, along with some very solid archaeological evidence that the classical "discontinuity" thesis of Eduard Gibbon is much more nearly correct than is the continuity thesis of historians like Stark and Peter Brown.

Ward-Perkins pokes gentle fun at the continuity theorists. He writes (p. 82) that "recent literature on the Germanic settlements reads like ... a tea party at the Roman vicarage. A shy newcomer to the village, who is a useful prospect for the cricket team, is invited in. There is a brief moment of awkwardness, while the host finds an empty chaor and pours a fresh cup of tea; but the conversation, and the village life, soon flows on."

Ward-Perkins has engaged in archeological excavations in Roman sites (near Pisa in Italy), where he has been able to trace the material bases of life (such as pottery and home construction) from the 4th to the 6th Centuries. There is plainly a collapse in the quality of life available to those living there during the time of the Germanic invasions. These barbarian invasions were no tea party.

There was a recovery beginning in the 6th Century, after the Germanic and Roman populations had fused into new people called "the Franks". But the quality of life available for ordinary persons did not equal that of the citizens of the late Roman Empire until the 17th Century. There really was a "fall" from the status of civilized existence in 5th Century Italy. And contrary to Stark, one can still build a substantial case that Christianity was one of the contributing causes.

I wish all historians were as easy to read and understand as is Bryan Ward-Perkins.
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Essential for Learning about the Fall of Rome 3 décembre 2006
Par Suzanne Cross - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Almost from the first page, I realized I was reading on of the best-argued and influential books I've ever read on the end of the Roman Empire and its culture. This book is not a history of one of the most massive dislocations in human history, but it does elucidate that history while taking issue with trends in recent scholarship which have, apparently, led historians somewhat away from what the facts provide about the fall of the West. This book will help you get historically back on track on this magnificent but frightening subject.

Ward-Perkins is lucid, occasionally endearing, fair-minded but determined to use the evidence not only of archeology, and literature, but of economics, to prove that the current trend in pretending that, somehow, all those 'barbarians' just wandered in, settled down, and got along with the inhabitants of Rome's Empire is a wishful misreading of the facts. He does it with wit and grace and inarguable sources ranging from one side of the Mediterranean to the other, from the studies of coinage, trade and trade-goods, the kinds of buildings being built, and more. He manages to do so without disparaging other scholars, but taking issue with some of their conclusions. If anyone has, as I have, met history buffs who insist that the Fall of Rome never happened and that the cultures of the Germanic/Gothic and other tribes who took over the western world had cultures equal to anything in the late-Roman period, Mr. Ward-Perkins has provided a clear, cogent and convincing rebuttal. He also is entirely persuasive in proving how changes in 20th century understanding can influence, and even undermine, our understanding of ancient cultures, not always to the benefit of the truth. Scholars can be influenced by this as much as their vulnerable readers, and while it is perhaps currently fashionable to pretend that great cultures fall without much noise and fuss, it is also rather dangerous.

Most highly recommended. This is one book I plan to read more than once as an excellent reminder of how great cultures can actually 'fall.' As Ward-Perkins notes with striking effect in his last sentences, "Romans before the fall were as certain as we are today that their world would continue for ever substantially unchanged. They were wrong. We would be wise not to repeat their complacency."
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