From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565: The Transformation of Ancient Rome

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Edinburgh University Press, 2013 - History - 337 pages
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The final dramatic centuries of Roman history


Between the deaths of the Emperors Julian (363) and Justinian (565), the Roman Empire underwent momentous changes.  Most obviously, control of the west was lost to barbarian groups during the fifth century, and although parts were recovered by Justinian, the empire's centre of gravity shifted irrevocably to the east, with its focal point now the city of Constantinople.  Equally important was the increasing dominance of Christianity not only in religious life, but also in politics, society and culture. 

Doug Lee charts these and other significant developments which contributed to the transformation of ancient Rome and its empire into Byzantium and the early medieval west.  By emphasising the resilience of the east during late antiquity and the continuing vitality of urban life and the economy, this volume offers an alternative perspective to the traditional paradigm of decline and fall.

Key features:
* Provides a clear analytical narrative of pivotal political, military, and religious developments
* Complements this with an examination of overarching trends in urban life and the economy
* Gives particular attention to the dynamics of political and religious power and of Roman-barbarian relations during the fifth century

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TL;DR- How much would I pay for this book? No more than 50 USD. It covers a lot of history but condenses it into 337 pages. You're exposed to the information, and SOME elaboration is made; but if you want an in-depth analysis of, for example, Aetius' personal motivations when commanding Gaul, then you won't find that here.
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This book is a basic history. You're told of the events that take place. You're given background information to make sense of what happens. Religion, economics, culture, and military matters are explained; but again it lacks depth like one would find in "Failure of Empire" by Lenski or "Aeitus: Attila's Nemesis" by Ian Hughes. As far as I can tell, Lee takes an unbiased view on the events; he seems to stay neutral, which is appreciated.
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What's wrong with this book? For such a long time period to cover, Lee keeps things brief. As an introduction to the late Roman empire, its division into West and East, and the Greco-Roman "Byzantine" empire, this is a great start for a new reader. For individuals who are already familiar with the subject and want a more detailed essay, it is lacking.
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As of 3-24-16, this book is outrageously overpriced at almost 100 USD for a hardcover copy. I recommend renting it from the library or finding a used, paperback copy.
 

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About the author (2013)


A. D. Lee is Associate Professor in Classical Studies at the University of Nottingham

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