Item description for The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics) by Edward Gibbon & David P. Womersley...
Overview In the greatest work of history in the English language, Edward Gibbon compresses thirteen turbulent centuries into a gripping epic narrative. It is history in the grand eighteenth-century manner, a well-researched drama charged with insight, irony, and incisive character analysis. In elegant prose, Gibbon presents both the broad pattern of events and the significant revealing detail. He delves into religion, politics, sexuality, and social mores with equal authority and aplomb. While subsequent research revealed minor factual errors about the early Empire, Gibbon's bold vision, witty descriptions of a vast cast of characters, and readiness to display his own beliefs and prejudices result in an astonishing work of history and literature, at once powerfully intelligent and enormously entertaining. Based on David Womersley's definitive three-volume Penguin Classics edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, this abridgement contains complete chapters from all three volumes, linked by extended bridging passages, vividly capture the style, the argument, and the architecture of the whole work.
Publishers Description Famously sceptical about Christianity, unexpectedly sympathetic to the barbarian invaders and the Byzantine Empire, constantly aware of how political leaders often achieve the exact opposite of what they intend, Gibbon was alert to both the broad pattern of events and the significant revealing detail. Attacked for its enlightened views on politics, sexuality and religion, the first volume was widely acclaimed for the elegance of its prose.
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Studio: Penguin Classics
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.78" Width: 5.2" Height: 1.51" Weight: 1.15 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2003
Publisher Penguin Classics
ISBN 0140437649 ISBN13 9780140437645
Availability 0 units.
More About Edward Gibbon & David P. Womersley
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), English historian. It was on a visit to Rome that he conceived the idea of his magnificent and panoramic history The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vol., 1776-88) which won immediate acclaim, despite some harsh criticism. Gibbon himself was assured of the greatness of his work, which is, indeed, one of the most-read historical works of modern times.
Reviews - What do customers think about The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics)?
Might be fine if i could read it Mar 23, 2008
Type is way too small for my tired old eyes, hence the low rating. You can't rate highly that which you can't read. From snippets I was able to read it looks like a fabulous rendition of the story of the Roman Empire.
Hard to Read Nov 11, 2006
Not what I was expecting. Very hard to read as it was written back in the dark ages and the english used is tough.
Understand that any civilization may fail. Feb 24, 2006
Gibbon is one of the first historians of the Enlightenment. He does not have a favorable opinion of Christianity or the times he lived. This bias does not detract from this book. Nor is this book an effective argument against Christianity. His thesis is Christianity helped bring down Rome. The Christian mindset made it impossible to defend their empire in a way similar to how they made their empire. If you lose your basic traditions your empire will crumble. An excellent book, a must read.
MISUNDERSTANDING OF BYZANTIUM Jun 29, 2005
Historians agree today that this book is responsible for the modern misunderstanding of Byzantium. Think of only what the labeling "Byzantine" means today. If you want to know more about Byzantium start with one of the books on the empire by Sir Steven Runciman.
Considered the most scholarly collection of Gibbon's work Jun 5, 2005
I do not recommend buying an edition of "The Decline and Fall" based upon price alone, because for many reasons, which will become clearer to you after reading this complicated and scholarly work, the editions vary in content and price, nor does price alone guarantee quality.
For many hours prior to purchasing, I researched the numerous editions offered by different publishers and read reviews, and discovered a consensus among Gibbon fans in favor of Womersley's unabridged edition, in part because it includes a complete and unmodernized text, Gibbon's own comments and notes, and his famous Vindication, a final and thorough answer to scurrilous critics of his time. All of this is provided at a quite reasonable price, considering the length of the work (in excess of 1,300 pages), albeit in soft cover which I find makes a book easier to read, if slightly less durable.
I recommend buying this new edition from this site, instead of the used editions also offered here, because many of them, I discovered after investigating, are not the same as this one I am reviewing (ISBN 0-14-043393-7, which is Volume I). Like I said, there are many editions of Gibbon's masterpiece floating about, old and new, of varying quality and content. The vendors' failure to disclose the ISBN in their descriptions prohibits any purchase by the discriminating. Just pay the seventeen or so bucks for the new book, which is dirt cheap for a work of this magnitude.
There should be no need to defend Gibbon nor his work, which is simply the best I have yet read. I loved history as a boy, even while reading the simple and often stupid books offered in school. Imagine how much more I enjoyed history written by such a master of prose as Gibbon, the most thorough, meticulous and honest historian I have yet encountered.
We owe a debt of gratitude to a historian who has perused enormous quantities of ancient texts in Latin and Greek and other languages, such as would confound the vast majority of readers today, and with his formidable powers of intellect, analyzed their veracity, by comparing one against the other, and judged keenly of their worth. Gibbon had for his time a vast encyclopedic knowledge, for by his own admission, he devoted his life to reading. Gibbon's love was not among humans, but among books. He possessed an excellent understanding of government, which is the more understandable when you discover he served as a Member of Parliament for a number of years. His grasp of military science is explained in part by his service in the militia as an officer. To all these things, we must add an innate, profound understanding of human nature.
Why bother with Gibbon? Why not read the original, the ancient and medieval writers, from whom Gibbon based his work? That is a good question that I asked myself. Here is the answer. We cannot trust the ancient writers to be truthful or accurate in every event. For one thing, they sometimes contradict each other, which means one or both are lying. Also, they leave out important details, which can be pieced together by circumstantial evidence, if you have found it by exhaustive research.
This is where Gibbon comes in. He has performed exhaustive research that consumed a large portion of his scholarly and reflective lifetime. Gibbon is no fool, and never succumbs to the usual vices of enthusiasm or its opposite, cynicism. He is calm, rational, penetrative; just the guide and the mentor you want. He never takes an ancient historian at face value without considering their motives, prejudices, passions, and even their personal histories. Gibbon has studied not just the history, but the historians, and the history of the historian's countries. Not only has Gibbon accumulated and summarized the ancient and medieval texts, but interpreted and analyzed with his considerable deductive powers, to form a whole that is greater than the parts. Thus a novice does better with Gibbon than with the original. Gibbon's copious notes explain where has made interpretations, leaving you free to form different conclusions, should you desire.
Some reviewers are peeved that Gibbon suffers an opinion that disagrees with their own, and for this reason alone, they degrade his work. I experience the same treatment by those who are alarmed that my reviews have an actual opinion instead of being a rubber stamp marked "PERFECTION". If this intolerant philosophy were carried on, then no-one should dare express an unseasonable opinion of anything at all, and we should all become a tribe of dullards. Of course Gibbon expresses many opinions, some the inevitable product of his country, class and times; and this is the mark of intellectual honesty. You should never read without a critical mind, and should be prepared to disagree with an author on some issues, as I do with Gibbon, while agreeing with him on others. I especially favor his ideas concerning the causes and effects of the rise of Christianity, many of which can be observed today.
Look to find a better history than this, in any language, written during any time since the advent of letters. Look far and wide, as long as you like... and then revisit Gibbon, and see whether you have yet found an equal.