am 15. Oktober 2006
Although it is highly informative and an enjoyable read, this work on Attila does not quite succeed in making history come alive. The author is obviously enthusiastic about hn.is subject but the narrative is somewhat scattered, digressing into various detours and much intent on mythbusting.
Part One: The Menace, describes the world of that time, when Europe was in disarray with the various movements of tribes into and within the Roman Empire. It also explores the origins of the Huns. They were most likely descended from what the Chinese called the Xiongnu of Mongolia and it seems fairly certain that they were a Turkish tribe, judging by the linguistic evidence. Ptolemy called them the Khoinoi. Part of this section is devoted to mounted archery with reference to the Hungarian Lajos Kassai who has revived the art.
Part Two: Rivals, discusses their settlement on the Hungarian plain amidst the political and religious rivalry of the Western and Eastern Empires of which the northern borders were in constant upheaval. The author draws on the acount of St Jerome of a Hunnish incursion into Anatolia and on the Byzantine History of Priscus. The Hunnish hordes consisted of a great alliance of Huns, Ostrogoths and Alans and was thus a confederation of Turkic, Germanic and Iranian tribes.
Part Three: Death and Transfiguration examines the great battle on the Plain of Mery where the general Aetius and his Visigothic allies defeated the combined forces of Huns, Ostrogoths and Gepids. It also deals with the later Hunnish incusion into Italy, with reference to various legends and myths like the omen of the stork and Pope Leo's encounter with Attila. The case of Honoria and the rivalries within the Roman Empire are discussed as well.
The following maps enhance the text: Distant Roots of the Huns, Coming Of The Huns, The Hun Heartland in the Balkans 435 - 451, The Huns Strike West and Attila's Empire 445 - 453. There are colour plates that include Hun artefacts, objects from Mongolia, a view of the Dnieper, a Hun cauldron, various imperial coins, a painting by Raphael and the aforementioned Lajos Kassai in action. The book concludes with a bibliography an index.