The Ruin of the Roman Empire
A New History
By James J. O'Donnell
Ecco Press, Paperback, 9780060787417, 448pp.
Publication Date: August 2009
List Price: $15.99*
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The dream Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar shared of uniting Europe, the Medi-terranean, and the Middle East in a single community shuddered and then collapsed in the wars and disasters of the sixth century. Historian and classicist James J. O'Donnell—who last brought readers his masterful, disturbing, and revelatory biography of Saint Augustine—revisits this old story in a fresh way, bringing home its sometimes painful relevance to today's issues.
With unexpected detail and in his hauntingly vivid style, O'Donnell begins at a time of apparent Roman revival and brings readers to the moment of imminent collapse that just preceded the rise of Islam. Illegal migrations of peoples, religious wars, global pandemics, and the temptations of empire: Rome's end foreshadows today's crises and offers hints how to navigate them—if present leaders will heed this story.
“O’Donnell’s richly layered book provides significant glimpses into the many factors that leveled a mighty empire.”
“A vigorous history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.”
“An exotic and instructive tale, told with life, learning and just the right measure of laughter on every page. O’Donnell combines a historian’s mastery of substance with a born storyteller’s sense of style to create a magnificent work of art. Perfect for history-lovers and admirers of great writing alike.”
-Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State