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Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilizationby Lars Brownworth
Synopses & Reviews
Captivating...In Lost to the West Lars Brownworth shows a novelist's eye for character, bringing to life some of the most fascinating — and yet little known — figures of the Byzantine era. But it is as a researcher into the obscurities of palace intrigue, treachery, and battlefield carnage that Lars really shines. With dry humor and a palette of vivid images, he recounts the dizzying game of musical chairs that placed one usurper after another on the Byzantine throne, only to be pitched off in a gaudily macabre way. In the end, one is left agog by the irony that the upshot of this centuries-long scrum was the preservation of nearly all that the Greeks have bequeathed to us.
--Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire
Rome never fell — it simply moved five hundred miles East — to Byzantium. For over a thousand years the Byzantines commanded one of the most visceral and vivid empires the world has ever known. And yet their achievements are consistently underplayed; written out of history. Lars Brownworth is a rare talent. His contagious passion brings murderous empresses, conniving eunuchs, lost Greek texts and Byzantine treasures of fairy-tale proportions blinking back into the light. Confidently striding through time and across the mountains and plains of the Eastern Mediterranean, Brownworth puts this theocratic superstate slap-bang in the center of mankind's global story; back where it should be. The Byzantines made our world what it is today. Lars Brownworth matches their verve and brio in his seductive and gripping account.
--Bettany Hughes, PBS host and author of Helen of Troy
This is history as it used to be, history as story-telling. In this fascinating account of the Byzantine empire, Lars Brownworth covers a thousand years of blood-letting, outrageous luxury, bitter religious disputes and vaulting ambition without giving the slightest impression of being rushed or crowded. The page turns unaided.
--Anthony Everitt, bestselling author of Augustus, Cicero and The First Emperor
A hugely entertaining and often moving portrait of a civilization to which the modern West owes an immense but neglected debt. Read it, and you will never use the word 'Byzantine' as a term of abuse again.
--Thomas Holland, author of Millennium, Persian Fire and Rubicon
Lost to the West is the sort of history I wish I'd been offered in school — a fast-paced adventure story that covers over a thousand years of political intrigue, brilliant leaders, incompetent squabblers, mayhem, butchery and religious divides, and vividly pictures a bygone era that is still a vital part of our heritage.
--Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds
The Byzantines are back Correcting centuries of neglect, Lars Brownworth guides us through a forgotten world and, with clarity and wit, brings it to vibrant life. Filled with a dazzling cast of ruthless Emperors, conniving generals and half-crazed scholars, Lost to the West is both entertaining and enlightening — a great piece of popular history.
--Tony Perrottet, author of Pagan Holiday and The Naked Olympics
Historian Brownworth presents an absorbing look at the forgotten Byzantine Empire, its surprising role in shaping Western civilization, and the lessons it holds for modern societies.
In AD 476 the Roman Empire fell or rather, its western half did. Its eastern half, which would come to be known as the Byzantine Empire, would endure and often flourish for another eleven centuries. Though its capital would move to Constantinople, its citizens referred to themselves as Roman for the entire duration of the empire's existence. Indeed, so did its neighbors, allies, and enemies: When the Turkish Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453, he took the
About the Author
LARS BROWNWORTH, a former high-school history teacher, is the creator of the podcast phenomenon “12 Byzantine Rulers” that iTunes named as one of the “podcasts that define the genre.” Brownworth and his podcast have been profiled in the New York Times, Wired, and USA Today, and were featured on NPR.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Roman roots — Diocletian's revolution — Constantine and the Church ascendant — The pagan counterstroke — Barbarians and Christians — A dreadful rumor from the West — The fall of Rome — The rise of Peter Sabbatius — Nika! — Of buildings and generals — Yersinia pestis — A Persian fire — The house of war — The image breakers — The crumbling empire — The turning tide — The glorious House of Macedon — The brilliant pretender — Death and his nephew — Basil the Bulgar slayer — The march of folly — The Comneni recovery — Swords that drip with Christian blood — The empire in exile — The brilliant sunset — The eternal emperor — Epilogue: Byzantine embers — Appendix: Emperors of Constantinople.
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History and Social Science » Middle East » Turkey