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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – Gekürzte Ausgabe, 28. August 2003

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Spanning thirteen centuries from the age of Trajan to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, "Decline & Fall" is one of the greatest narratives in European Literature. David Womersley's masterly selection and bridging commentary enables the reader to acquire a general sense of the progress and argument of the whole work and displays the full variety of Gibbon's achievement.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Edward Gibbon (1737-94) studied briefly at Magdalen College, Oxford and at Lausanne, Switzerland before being elected to Parliament in 1774. DECLINE & FALL was written over 12 years and established his reputation as a pre-eminent Classical historian.
David Womersley, Official Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Jesus College Oxford, is the author of The Transformation of the Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire (CUP) and edited the 3-volume edition of DECLINE & FALL for Penguin Classics.


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Format: Taschenbuch
Eine sehr geschickte Auswahl aus dem Riesenwerk. Die übergangenen Teile werden zwischen den Artikeln in Zusammenfassungen wiedergegeben. Eine ausgezeichnete Einleitung.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Even today, this is THE definitive work on the subject, and for this price, every history buff should have it on his Kindle.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.7 von 5 Sternen 87 Rezensionen
246 von 254 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Still relevant. The font of late Roman and medieval history 16. Juli 2003
Von Center Man - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Historians love revision. It's why so few histories of the 19th century endure; new evidence and interpretations render them useless. Even Carl Sandburg's superb biography of Abraham Lincoln sags under the weight of new research.
Why, then, is The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire timeless? The author wasn't a post-modernist man trapped in an Enlightenment body; Gibbon had no conception of social history or archeology, his 18th century idea that climate affects morality is long out of date, and his analyses of the Middle East are hampered by his reliance on second-hand sources. But in 200 years no one has seriously challenged the framework Gibbon used to explain the fall of the empire. In fact, contemporary histories of Rome still owe a great deal to him.
Why? One reason is his careful use of documents. Decline and Fall relies mostly on writers like Ammianus and Sidonius, who tried to be impartial. Another is Gibbon's almost superhuman objectivity; while individual characters are berated for this and that, the author is usually sympathetic to human foibles, and always tells his tales with as much complexity as the sources will allow. Which is one reason the work's alleged hostility to Christianity is overstated; Gibbon said the religion played a role (not "the" role) in the fall of Rome, and even praises the new faith for breaking "the violence of the fall, and mollify(ing) the ferocious temper of the conquerors." There's one stumble, and that's the section on the various heresies and religious controversies of the 300s. Duty required Gibbon to analyze the niggling and sometimes incomprehensible arguments over Christ's nature (and he confessed he didn't understand the passions behind them), but the historian gets bogged down in theological jargon and never makes it clear what role those heresies played in the fall until the end of Volume III. By then you've forgotten the details.
That's a small scratch in the masterpiece. In two centuries no one has challenged his famous conclusion: "The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long." Today we have more details, but the trajectory Gibbon plotted has never been recalculated.
Decline and Fall is also a great read, and one of the best narratives in the English language. War, idealism, corruption, droll asides and the clash of civilizations fly along a brisk stream of prose. If you've got the time, try the unabridged version -- it's 3,000 pages, but the work moves faster than books a tenth its size.
The work reflects the best concertos of its time, where a supporting background built themes, and a soloist expanded those ideas in clear, simple notes. So it is with Decline and Fall; Gibbon weaved numerous histories into a harmonious whole, and his asides and analyses deepened our understanding of the whole epoch. Mozart would have applauded.
167 von 172 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great value for dollar, and TOC and line break problems appear to have been fixed 17. Mai 2008
Von John Ogden - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
This is an enormous amount of content and value for just 99 cents. Regarding this Kindle edition: I have purchased a number of inexpensive books on the Kindle, and as I have posted elsewhere, I feel that getting great works at cheap prices is one of the great things the Kindle enables. This Kindle version of Gibbon is fine - the table of contents are active, the formatting looks good to me at all of the font sizes. In reading the comments to the prior review, it sounds like the publisher made these changes in response to comments.
86 von 89 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A monumental work in the field of history 28. August 2003
Von bixodoido - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This work has often been called, and rightly I believe, the most significant historical text ever written in the English language. Even in abridged form this work is spectacular, but as a whole this treatise on the fall of Rome is nothing short of monumental. In fact, the whole work covers a period of history not only concerning the fall of the Roman Empire, but also some ten centuries after the barbarian invasion of Rome, encompassing not only the events which led to the ruin of the empire but also every significant occurrence concerning the land, people, or allies of the fallen kingdom. Gibbon easily could have ended his history with the fall of the western empire, but instead he chose to continue a work to which he dedicated a great portion of his life, and for which the world will be forever in his debt.

Because the work spans such a large portion of civilized European history, it is fairly easy to abridge. The most important information concerning the decline of the center of civilization can be condensed into one rather large volume, and the rest (concerning Huns, Saracens, and the like) can be summed up in a matter of pages.
The abridgement is concise in many ways, yet severely wanting in others. As is always the case with an abridgement of a great work, much that is valuable has been spliced and omitted. Despite the problems with this abridgement, however, this work is a great joy to read. More importantly, it is packed with pertinent information about the fall of the Roman empire. If one of the ultimate goals of history is to learn from the past, there is much we can learn from Gibbon's work.
50 von 51 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Reading Gibbon 22. Juli 2009
Von Stephen D. Geller - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
For those with as much interest in the English language as in Roman history, Gibbon is one of the greatest stylists who ever lived. Moreover, his dramatic sense is manifest not only in the events he describes,but also in the very sentences he uses to describe them.

I wonder what he would think of the language of the internet.

Bless the internet for making Gibbon available for everybody; and Gibbon for making great language available on the internet!
97 von 105 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Utterly Magnificent 30. April 2003
Von Pejman Yousefzadeh - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This work was merely the abridged version (the actual version is 3000 pages long), but Gibbon's command and use of the English language is so rich and varied that one must take the time necessary to savor and fully digest his arguments. Besides, at nearly 800 pages, this isn't light reading.
Editor David Womersley did a masterful job with the editing. In situations where chapters of the abridged version were truncated, Womersley still favored the reader with a description of Gibbon's arguments, as well as with commentary on why/how Gibbon's observations were of consequence. Additionally, Womersley's introduction is well worth one's time--he is able to give us an accurate and fascinating portrait of Gibbon, which enables us to better understand and appreciate the nature of Gibbon's arguments.
Of course, the best part about the book is Gibbon's own observations regarding the history of Rome. Gibbon was a masterful and witty commentator--oftentimes issuing backhanded insults and wryly discussing certain historical personages. Even the footnotes are filled with such commentary. Consider one footnote where Gibbon said "The Dissertation of M. Biet seems to have been justly preferred to the discourse of his more celebrated competitor, the Abbé le Boeuf, an antiquarian, whose name was happily expressive of his talents." Of the emperor Gordian, Gibbon remarked that both his gigantic collection of books, and his impressive collection of concubines were "for use rather than ostentation." Who could help but be charmed by this cheeky and mildly scandalous commentary?
But beyond dry wit and well-placed insults, Gibbon's work stands out because it is so relevant to our world today. The collapse of empire is a subject of much debate in the United States--what with various commentators and pundits assuring us that we will go the way of the Romans quite soon. Gibbon tells us what the crumbling of an empire really is and what it means--in sumptuous detail. In discussing the empire of the Romans, Gibbon lends perspective to geopolitical arguments of today. We can use his analysis as a starting point--the definitive discussion on how a world power may reach its nadir, and may ultimately see its power dissipate.
At times, Gibbon's attention to historical detail is eerie in its ability to pick out important and consequential subjects for discussion. In analyzing the rise of Islam, Gibbon remarks upon the rewards that await the faithful Muslim: "Seventy-two Houris, or black-eyed girls, of resplendent beauty, blooming youth, virgin purity, and exquisite sensibility, will be created for the use of the meanest believer; a moment of pleasure will be prolonged to a thousand years, and his faculties will be encreased a hundred fold, to render him worthy of his felicity." Tell me that you don't read that passage without a shiver running down your spine. Over two hundred years before the attacks of September 11th, Gibbon identified and remarked on the mythology that would drive madmen to plot and execute that mad deed.
Equally impressive was Gibbon's complete and absolute mastery of allegory and analogy. His use of the story of the "Seven Sleepers" to describe the human advancement "from youth to age, without observing the gradual, but incessant, change of human affairs," is a shining example, as Womersley points out, of "human insight, historical vision and philosophical reach" that confirm Gibbon's "range and power as a historian." A relation of the history of the Paulician sect would have struck other lesser historians as tedious and unnecessary, but Gibbon--who was no lesser historian--undertook an analysis of the history with excellent results--making clearer to the reader the nature of religious culture in Gibbon's own time.
Like any work devised by the human hand, the book does have characteristics that receive criticism. Throughout The Decline and Fall Gibbon takes shots at the Persians--a sore spot with me, personally. One bit appears to occur when Gibbon discusses Sultan Mahomet [Mohammad] II of the Ottoman Empire. Remarking on the fact that Mohammad II "spoke or understood five languages, the Arabic, the Persian, the Chalaean or Hebrew, the Latin and the Greek," Gibbon goes on to say that "The Persian might indeed contribute to [Mohammad's] amusement, and the Arabic to his edification." Needless to say, this is a slam against the Persian language--one of the most beautiful and lyrical tongues in existence, and a language that is perfectly suited to poetry--as Hafez, Rum'i, Sa'adi and Omar Khayyam would attest to, and do attest to by their eternally magnificent poetry. Gibbon also has his favorite figures. He openly roots for the Romans, under Emperor Julian, to vanquish the Persian Empire by force of arms, and laments the fact that the Romans lost their holdings in Persia thanks to the death of Julian, and the incompetence of the Emperor Jovian--Julian's successor. Indeed, Gibbon goes so far as to say that "Julian, on this occasion, shewed himself ignorant, or careless, of the laws of civility, which the prudence and refinement of polished ages have established between hostile princes. Yet these wanton ravages need not excite in our [heart] any vehement emotions of pity or resentment. A simple, naked, statute, finished by the hands of a Grecian artist, is of more genuine value than all these rude and costly monuments of Barbaric labor: and if we are more deeply affected by the ruin of a palace, than by the conflagration of a cottage, our humanity must have formed a very erroneous estimate of the miseries of human life." Additionally, Gibbon tells us that "The native race of Persians is small and ugly: but it has been improved by the perpetual mix of Circassian blood." Maybe it's just because my ethnicity is Persian, but I found these remarks wholly unnecessary.
Additionally, Gibbon lionizes Mohammad II, Julian, the Byzantine general Belisarius, and others--lending such favoritism at times that one cannot help but wonder whether his analysis is sufficiently dispassionate. And despite the fact that Gibbon was a believing Christian, Gibbon does show a hostility to religion that is characteristic of a man of the Enlightenment, but one that stands out nonetheless, and could very well have colored his analysis. I suppose that "The Decline and Fall" wouldn't be the same if this opinionated commentary was omitted, and overall, I did rather enjoy having the opportunity to gain an insight into Gibbon's own feelings and beliefs, but the reader should be warned that Gibbon's history is not exactly objective in nature.
In the end, however, these are trifling concerns. I haven't created anything like a Top Ten List of Favorite Books, but when I do, Gibbon's magnum opus will surely be included, and will have a place of honor. In remarking on the success of "The Decline and Fall," Gibbon stated that "my book was on every table, and almost on every toilette." I would not be in the least bit surprised if this were so, and few works in history would deserve similar popularity and acclaim. Given Gibbon's masterful historical relation, given his erudition and expert use of the English language and the contribution he made to the language through his work, and given the relevance of "The Decline and Fall" to our present day and age, let us hope for the sake of contemporary intelligence and society, that more tables and toilettes are graced with a copy of this magisterial work. More importantly, let us hope that Gibbon is read faithfully and constantly--like a Bible of the Enlightenment whose discussion of the past could very well serve to illuminate the present and the future, and offer guidance to meeting the challenges posed to us by modern day events.
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