Sample Book Review on Western civilization to 1689

Western civilization to 1689

Barbero, Alessandro. The day of the barbarians: the battle that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2008.


The theme of the book is a battle that transformed the sequence of the world history. It was not a major clash such as the Waterloo or the Stalingrad, actually, most people do not know about it. And yet some people felt that it only signified the end of the ancient world and the start of the middle ages, since the battle was an introduction of the chain of occurrences that that would lead, just about a century later, to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. That occurrence is related to a renowned period that formulae part of the historical accounts. For instance AD 476, which was the time when Romulus Augustulus, the last Roman ruler of the West, was overthrown. But actually the elimination of Romulus was only the last, certain step in a course that had started long before. The introductory sentence of the book puts the author determinedly in the camp of initial dating of the collapse of Rome, and he sets out tojustify it to his own gratification in this brief account of the proceedings that lead up to the battle of Adrianople, the fight itself, and the outcome.  His urgings are not solely substantial as to the scheduling and he himself waffles at some points. The author of this book is a professor of feudal trainings at the University of Piemonte Orientale in Vercelli, Italy. He is a preceding victor of the Strega Prize, which is the  most distinguished literary prize in Italy, he is also the writer of The Battle: A New History of Waterloo and Charlemagne, Father of a Continent.



Brief Summary

In 376 C.E. people of Goths begun streaming through the borders of the Eastern Empire, and asked for consent to settle down from Emperor Valens. However, the unsuccessful attempts of settling these refugees made the Goths to rise in rebellion against the local Roman supremacy and begin raiding in the Balkans. Valens went with a military and their leader Fritigern to fight against the Goths, but his hordes received a shocking conquest from the barbarians outside the city of Adrianople. The disaster with the Goths in the Realm continued for 2 years beforehand the combat at Adrianople. Barbero draws attention to the civic destruction this resulted in, and that this was not just another barbarian shove through Roman borders: The Goths were not intruders in a customary sense but rather settlers and immigrants who had protested for the disgraceful treatment that they had been given, and who had since received into their ranks a mass of absconders, fugitive criminals, and fugitive slaves. By disparity, the militias of the grand army, a great majority of whom had been enrolled among barbarians and migrants, frequently came to public notice for the conceit and cruelty of their dealings with residents. The populace of the realm was virtually at a loss to select, and the societies ended up enthusiastically abhorring both.

Chapter IX outlines the author’s account of the fight, generally taken from Ammianus Marcellinus, though complemented with facts of the terrain and overviews based on the Majestic militia of the day. The author’s investigation of Ammianus indicates discerning but truthful historical reportage. few facts about this fight is certainly known, but their can be assumptions. The portrayal of the battle itself offers exhilarating reading, and it closes with an assumption about the destiny of Valens ruler, who actually died in the battle, though no one recognized his body. The rest of the book, The Day of the Barbarians, outlines the outcome of the calamity, explaining how the losses near Adrianople lead to the decline of the Roman kingdom. Even though a majority of the readers will opt for this book for the fight itself, this is the book’s most significant section. King Theodosius, who followed Valens and could be the last leader of both the eastern and western splits of the Kingdom, prohibited further disaster with the Goths, however also had to incorporate them into the militia and Regal lands. From that time on, the barbarians formed an important part of the Kingdom, resulting in its subsequent dissolution into feudal Europe. Regardless of the book’s caption, Barbero does not really press his own thesis at the end of book, choosing to remain uncertain about how much the Clash of Adrianople lead to the decline of the Roman Empire. His conclusion urges interested readers to go deeper, and he offers a list for further reading which gives a good beginning place.

Apart from the desires of reading about the clashes, lovers of military account would enjoy Barbero’s illustrations of the transformations in the Roman military. People have a tendency of viewing the Roman army as a still unit, just as it was in Julius Caesar’s time, but the author describes how considerably it had transformed by the 4th century, with putting more emphasis on horse soldiers that would finally become the basis of the militaries of the Middle Ages. The book will serve as a worthy overview for casual history booklovers to the study of Late Ancient times. It’s brief, thrilling, and focused, but also offers a glimpse at a wide picture of this ignored period of time.

About the book

The author bestows only 18 pages of the book to the war itself. That is approximately 12% of the entire book focusing on the subject of the book. This emphasizes that the fight at Adrianople was a major point in time for the kingdom more as a result of the context that surrounds the event, instead of the incident itself. Thus, remaining 88%  pages the book outlines the events that resulted in the fight, the events that surrounds it, and eventually the events following it. The pre-clash particulars comprise chapters that surround the Kingdom in the 4th Century, present barbarian contextual, history and anthropology within the kingdom, illustrate the relations between Goths particularly, and Rome, and 5 chapters on particular incidents that resulted in the war in August of 378. Following the 18 pages on the fight, Barbero ends the book with episodes on the occasions directly following the war, actions taken by king Theodosius, and the lengthier tail consequences of this mass barbarian immigration. Furthermore, Barbero included detailed notes for every chapter and a brief catalogue.

What makes this story exceptional is a well-explored, consistent and very well narrated story, if scripting history is a kind of literature; then this is literature at its finest. This book is an indication that the novelist has the capability of firing the imaginings and makes it all realistic. He could take a single sentence from Ammianus Marcellinus which is the primary source for the proceedings and draw in other similar materials to fill in the particulars to make a book-length recapping where others have a chapter or two. This is actually a “sophisticated and enjoyable little account. This is evidently a book for the general reader, even though the author is a medieval scholar; it has supportive footnotes which are useful and references to advance reading. The book brings together numerous features of the ancient and feudal worlds; it was one of the essential instants in world history and also one of the most histrionic.

Importance of the book

For the non-professionals who want a clear view of the contextual and possible events at the Clash of Adrianople or the barbarization of the Roman Kingdom, or for those whose favored era of Roman history is the Late Kingdom, “The Day of the Barbarians: The Battle That Led to the Fall of the Roman Empire,” by Alessandro Barbero, is the most recommended. The book has its pros and cons. For instance, it is nice fleshing out of the situation and battle of Adrianople it is so pleasing too, however, it has no charts and maps to give a picture of the empire and also premise is not particularly well supported. The accounts in the book are well-explored, consistent. I would recommend the book for general reader; it has supportive footnotes which are useful and references to advance reading. Regardless of being a translation, the book is easy to read and is filled with detail. The book is inscribed from the perspective of a medievalist. It offers social contextual on serfs. It is a very brief, popular history.


Work Cited

Barbero, Alessandro. The day of the barbarians: the battle that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2008.