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The first three volumes of Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL (the western empire) were published by Everyman in 1993. Volumes 4-6 complete the set which is now available for the first time in many years. This year is the bicentenary of Gibbon's death, which has been widely noticed in the press, but even after two hundred years his book is still an authoritative work on Roman histo The first three volumes of Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL (the western empire) were published by Everyman in 1993. Volumes 4-6 complete the set which is now available for the first time in many years. This year is the bicentenary of Gibbon's death, which has been widely noticed in the press, but even after two hundred years his book is still an authoritative work on Roman history. What is more, it remains wonderfully readable: witty, elegant and intriguing, full of the author's own personality. The six-volume Everyman edition - the only complete one now available-prints the entire text of the book with all Gibbon's own notes, later editorial commentaries, maps, tables, descriptive tables of contents, indices, appendices and two magisterial essays on the author and his work by Hugh Trevor-Roper.


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The first three volumes of Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL (the western empire) were published by Everyman in 1993. Volumes 4-6 complete the set which is now available for the first time in many years. This year is the bicentenary of Gibbon's death, which has been widely noticed in the press, but even after two hundred years his book is still an authoritative work on Roman histo The first three volumes of Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL (the western empire) were published by Everyman in 1993. Volumes 4-6 complete the set which is now available for the first time in many years. This year is the bicentenary of Gibbon's death, which has been widely noticed in the press, but even after two hundred years his book is still an authoritative work on Roman history. What is more, it remains wonderfully readable: witty, elegant and intriguing, full of the author's own personality. The six-volume Everyman edition - the only complete one now available-prints the entire text of the book with all Gibbon's own notes, later editorial commentaries, maps, tables, descriptive tables of contents, indices, appendices and two magisterial essays on the author and his work by Hugh Trevor-Roper.

30 review for The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volumes 4-6

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Last year I read about 1/3 of the total bulk. I need to hew off another chunk. This morning I've been worshipping a first edition, and it is probably the most beautiful book I've ever handled (Hume likened Strahan, his own and Gibbon's publisher, to learned printers of the Renaissance like Manutius), the perfect form in which to read him (a substantial quarto with expanses of white space, and huge Baskerville type channeling the elegance of Grandjean's Imprimerie Royale). When it comes to Gibbon Last year I read about 1/3 of the total bulk. I need to hew off another chunk. This morning I've been worshipping a first edition, and it is probably the most beautiful book I've ever handled (Hume likened Strahan, his own and Gibbon's publisher, to learned printers of the Renaissance like Manutius), the perfect form in which to read him (a substantial quarto with expanses of white space, and huge Baskerville type channeling the elegance of Grandjean's Imprimerie Royale). When it comes to Gibbon, the choice of editions is key, at least for me. Penguin prints it with plenty of white space and in Bembo, my favorite typeface, but the type is small and faint. Everyman's Library uses closely-packed Garamond, which might be the best I can do, barring the professional heresy of book thievery. Some: "THE divided provinces of the empire were again united by the victory of Constantius; but as that feeble prince was destitute of personal merit either in peace or war; as he feared his generals, and distrusted his ministers; the triumph of his arms served only to establish the reign of the eunuchs over the Roman world. Those unhappy beings, the ancient production of Oriental jealousy and despotism, were introduced into Greece and Rome by the contagion of Asiatic luxury. Their progress was rapid; and the eunuchs, who, in the time of Augustus, had been abhorred, as the monstrous retinue of an Egyptian queen, were gradually admitted into the families of matrons, of senators, and of the emperors themselves. Restrained by the severe edicts of Domitian and Nerva, cherished by the pride of Diocletian, reduced to an humble station by the prudence of Constantine, they multiplied in the palaces of his degenerate sons, and insensibly acquired the knowledge, and at length the direction, of the secret councils of Constantius."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Murray

    Few new things can be offered by a review of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This is the definition of a magisterial work. As a history it is epic, for its time, original and enormously well researched. Gibbon’s now imperfect facts remain insightfully rendered into a beautifully articulated narrative across almost two millennia. This is a work of timeless literature and timeless commentary. I would attempt to draw new readers with accolades of the under discussed sections on the foundation Few new things can be offered by a review of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This is the definition of a magisterial work. As a history it is epic, for its time, original and enormously well researched. Gibbon’s now imperfect facts remain insightfully rendered into a beautifully articulated narrative across almost two millennia. This is a work of timeless literature and timeless commentary. I would attempt to draw new readers with accolades of the under discussed sections on the foundation of Islam, the foundation of the Mongol Empire, and the biography of Tamerlane.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    The weakest half, but still amazing. Volumes 1 - 6 = 3585 pages, and I can't think of more than 200 that I would have preferred to have skipped. There was some drudgery with the minor, post Constantine emperors. I was also not as excited by the HRE sections as I was by the sections on the Rise of Islam, the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, and the Crusades. Those sections alone are why I rated the second half 5 stars and not 4. Anyway, a fantastic read. Ironic to finish it right after S&P lowers our The weakest half, but still amazing. Volumes 1 - 6 = 3585 pages, and I can't think of more than 200 that I would have preferred to have skipped. There was some drudgery with the minor, post Constantine emperors. I was also not as excited by the HRE sections as I was by the sections on the Rise of Islam, the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, and the Crusades. Those sections alone are why I rated the second half 5 stars and not 4. Anyway, a fantastic read. Ironic to finish it right after S&P lowers our national credit rating and our senators again fail to do anything productive.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Masterpiece

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This is a review of the complete work, all volumes 1-6, as published by Everyman's Library in two box sets. History is a cruel horror story, and Edward Gibbon is the bible and guiding light for the mind that diligently pursues her courses, and partakes in the general grief, tempered with the occasional pleasures, of her cup. One starts reading Edward Gibbon as an infant, and comes away enlightened, and aware of the cornerstones of the history of humanity, cognizant both of the heights of human sp This is a review of the complete work, all volumes 1-6, as published by Everyman's Library in two box sets. History is a cruel horror story, and Edward Gibbon is the bible and guiding light for the mind that diligently pursues her courses, and partakes in the general grief, tempered with the occasional pleasures, of her cup. One starts reading Edward Gibbon as an infant, and comes away enlightened, and aware of the cornerstones of the history of humanity, cognizant both of the heights of human splendor, as well as of the depths of human folly, and everything in between. Gibbon is incredible in that, he, in the eighteenth century, was able to unravel the grand narrative of the vast tapestry of nearly two millennia, in its whole and overall, and as a contiguous story, whereas even after his having portrayed it, we - many of us, in a much more modern time and clime, and with far greater freedom in our thoughts and in our access with information, still miss the forest for its trees. His eloquent and humorous pen sweeps effortlessly, yet with incredible attention to detail, over not just Rome and the great Caesars, but also the Byzantine, the ascendance, and duplicity of Christianity, the origin, the bluff, and the spread of Islam, the sordid state of Europe, Charlemagne, the Crusades, the Arabian Caliphates, the Ottoman Empire, the depredations of Zingis Khan and of Tamerlane/Timur, the papal establishment, and much more - in that sense, the title is modest, and work deserves the appellation of a history of Western Civilization. I look at Gibbons work, in its full, unabridged, and uncensored six volumes spanning nearly four thousand pages, as presumably the greatest book I have ever read. Reading Gibbon is the nearest analogue I can think of for the spiritual to the scientific mind, and shakes the very foundations of much of one's previous understandings. We start to see humanity as an organism, and humans, even entire peoples, as mere appendages of it, given to contentious factions, disastrous beliefs, and pernicious policies. If everyone read Edward Gibbon, the world would be at peace, superstition (either blatant, or legitimized under the appellation of religion) would wither and die, and reason and science will prosper and multiply! In that sense, he is a true Renaissance man. If I were an Egyptian or a Roman, I would gladly build a temple to Gibbon, and worship him as a great deliverer and philosopher - that, from a mind which refuses superstition, is perhaps the greatest of praise? Granted, there are some boring stretches, but nothing that I have ever read compares, even remotely, to the genius of Gibbon.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Dean

    More properly called The Decline and Fall of the Byzantine Empire. Rome is rarely mentioned until the latter part of the 6th book. Even the Goths and Franks who occupied Rome chose to settle their empire in Milan or Ravenna. Rome is just a shadow until Constantine comes to power and the beginnings of the Popes legitimizing emperors with the crown gives it a newfound power. Until the Papal States come into being the most important thing to happen I Rome is when it is besieged and taken four times More properly called The Decline and Fall of the Byzantine Empire. Rome is rarely mentioned until the latter part of the 6th book. Even the Goths and Franks who occupied Rome chose to settle their empire in Milan or Ravenna. Rome is just a shadow until Constantine comes to power and the beginnings of the Popes legitimizing emperors with the crown gives it a newfound power. Until the Papal States come into being the most important thing to happen I Rome is when it is besieged and taken four times in seven years. The first book follows the rise of Constantinople and its height under Justinian and his unloved general Belisarius. We follow the Byzantine Empire as it conquers Eastern Europe, North Africa, and Rome itself. Interesting as Byzantine politics gives itself to the word for which needlessly complicated is now attached. Readers of the first 3 books can easily follow Constantinople as it it devolves in the same manner that the Roman Empire fell. We move on to the rise of the Frankish Empire and quickly move into the life of Mohammed and the rise of the Moslem Empire. It conquers the Middle East, overruns North Africa, conquers Spain, and then collapses under internecine warfare soon after the death of the Prophet. The Crusades are explored in depth and only through internal European struggles does the Middle East remain under Muslim control. The original Muslims fall beneath the Turks, and the Ottoman Empire holds sway. The intervention of Genghis Khan and later Tamerlane rock the Ottomans, but like Mohammed these forces do not hold control long past the death of their founders. Eventually the Ottomans capture Constantinople, and the Byzantine Empire comes to an end. Though still extant during the life of Gibbons, he recognizes the same problems that had led to the collapse of Rome. The rise of the Papal States finally bring us back to Rome. The politics of the Pope, the Ghelphs and the Ghibellines torment Italy, the Pope retreats to Avignon, Popes and Antipopes reign, and eventually the Roman Empire becomes the new Vatican Empire. You won't find a more erudite and well researched work of history of any kind. This is the Bible of historical research. Interesting both for its subject matter and its writing, its well worth the months it might take to traverse its 3600 pages. It's like reading War and Peace 4 or 5 times. If you can finish it you can brag to your friends about how literate you are.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Razi

    What will I do with the rest of my life?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    I picked up volumes 1-3 in one of those little cases at a steep discount when Borders went out of business. I'm a lot more used to reading texts in old vernaculars since 2011, so I think I got more out of the second half. The first half dealt mainly with the fall of the western empire. The second deals with a sprawling range of things, but the main connecting thread is the Byzantine Empire, which like a lot of nerds I have a childhood affection for. You don't really read historians like Gibbon fo I picked up volumes 1-3 in one of those little cases at a steep discount when Borders went out of business. I'm a lot more used to reading texts in old vernaculars since 2011, so I think I got more out of the second half. The first half dealt mainly with the fall of the western empire. The second deals with a sprawling range of things, but the main connecting thread is the Byzantine Empire, which like a lot of nerds I have a childhood affection for. You don't really read historians like Gibbon for the facts- there's many many other books for that, with better research, efforts to be more objective and culturally sensible, weren't written two hundred years ago, etc. So what do you read Gibbon for? Well, I mainly read it as something to read while on hold at work (I'm on hold a lot at work) that you can get online. But obviously there's more to it than that. For one thing, for better or for worse, Gibbon was hugely influential not just on history, but on literature as well, from his characterizations and prose style to writers (especially scifi writers) straight up ripping off Gibbon's descriptions of historical events as plots. I enjoy Gibbon's sentence-level writing more than I do that of most historians. I actually think a fair number of his word choices are better than their modern equivalents- like "insensible" for "gradual-" it makes sense, the process goes on without you sensing it. "Gradual" implies it goes by grades, which can actually be any size, etc. But of course, I'm in the minority that likes to have to think about the prose I'm reading, as long as it's not too laborious, as opposed to having the prose stand out of the way. Different strokes, as they say. The farther you get from the sentences, the more the structure doesn't look that great -- a lot of poorly-differentiated tribes and leaders doing their respective things -- but sometimes Gibbon makes those sing, too, especially his descriptions of the Byzantine-Sassanid wars and the early Lombards. Historiographically, Gibbon stands at a turning point, but not one in which he fully partook. He was stuck between the two German words for history- "historie," history as a set of interchangeable chronicles saying more or less the same stuff, and "geschichte," history as the progressive unfolding of comprehensible processes, generally with some kind of meaningful endpoint- the ideal state, the abolition of class society, what have you. The Decline and Fall is an Enlightenment-era text that looks at the vanity of a geschichte that wasn't- if Rome really was the height of civilization (a problematic assumption, I know), then what sort of historical purpose was served by its fall, and the extended "dark ages" of irrationality and fecklessness (his view) that followed in its former domains? This is especially fraught for Enlightenment figures like Gibbon, who did not see the rise of Christianity as a recompense for the fall of Rome (to say the least), and who had at least an inkling that things were getting better -- or at least his country was getting powerful enough to have a pretense towards universalizing empire again. So you have this sort of mishmash. Sometimes in Gibbon you see the kind of universalized and law-generating tendency we're used to seeing from more confident 19th and 20th century history, typically centered around republican theorizing about liberty, constitutions, how they're maintained or not, as well as Enlightenment-era stuff about the progress of "rational" or "humane" religion, etc. It hints towards the idea that there is some general system through which some of the exigencies of history could be mastered. But you also get the sort of recitation of chronicles, calculated to impute lessons within a fixed moral/political system, that one is used to seeing in work that assumes history isn't going anywhere in particular. Sometimes it's both- one thing I've been thinking a lot about recently is how seriously manners and affect were taken as historical topics, and how that wasn't just a matter of a silly thing weird old people care about. In a pre-industrial age, that stuff would seem to be a real distinguishing factor between cultures and a contributor to the power and reach of the ruling elite of a given power. Methodologically, Gibbon also stands between old and new- relying mostly on chronicles collected by other scholars, but scrutinizing them critically and also attempting to use linguistic and other more subtle kinds of evidence. So... reading Gibbon can be fun for people who like old, occasionally somewhat sententious narratives of empires and their wars, and can be good for historians who want insight into how history is made. Also, for people with boring temp jobs. **** https://toomuchberard.wordpress.com/2...

  9. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    and now we're off the rails. second half of this text is all over the place, which lengthy entries on various non-roman groups in the era when the 'roman' world is constricted to the eastern empire alone, which ran down to the nub in the early 13th century, puffed up again, and then died in a blaze of glory when the city of men's desires succumbed to its (approximately) 200th siege by surly nomadic pastoralists.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Ryan Rosa

    A true masterpiece written by the famous British historian.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Singer

    Too dense for me

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andy Molino

    This is worth reading just for the sheer scope. I enjoy that all his references are in the original languages. The man was some kind of savant.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg Dawson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aarron

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lindel

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frédéric

  17. 5 out of 5

    Baoqing

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Zachman

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  20. 4 out of 5

    Edgar

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Davis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donnie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jon Shemitz

  25. 5 out of 5

    Colin Flanigan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Steele

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  28. 4 out of 5

    Frank Maybusher

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

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