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Summary

Was the fall of Rome a great catastrophe that cast the West into darkness for centuries to come? Or, as scholars argue today, was there no crisis at all, but simply a peaceful blending of barbarians into Roman culture, an essentially positive transformation?

In The Fall of Rome, eminent historian Bryan Ward-Perkins argues that the "peaceful" theory of Rome's "transformation" is badly in error. Indeed, he sees the fall of Rome as a time of horror and dislocation that destroyed a great civilization, throwing the inhabitants of the West back to a standard of living typical of prehistoric times. Attacking contemporary theories with relish and making use of modern 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. The book recaptures the drama and violence of the last days of the Roman world and reminds us of the very real terrors of barbarian occupation.

Equally important, Ward-Perkins contends that a key problem with the new way of looking at the end of the ancient world is that all difficulty and awkwardness is smoothed out into a steady and positive transformation of society. Nothing ever goes badly wrong in this vision of the past. The evidence shows otherwise.

©2005 Bryan Ward-Perkins (P)2019 Tantor

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  • Rab9975
  • 14-02-20

Witty,slightly sarcastic history fun.

Well written prose delivered with the diction to match the author's intended meaning. Excellent listen.

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  • james m.
  • 30-01-22

best book ever on Fall of Rome

This is by far the most balanced and superb book I have ever read on the fall of Rome.
Perkins explains why and how all of those drawers and drawers of pottery shards, human and animal bones (the length of cow bones at various times for instance)in museums are important and what they tell us about the empire and how a far-reaching complex society, and culture was destroyed. I thought the narration was great and will listen to again.

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  • had to read it for school
  • 31-03-20

Great scholarship

Perkins gives a concise, nuanced, and compelling discussion on how to approach late antiquity. Definitely worth a read if you are interested in how Rome deviled and how the medieval period began.