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In Volume I (chapters I-XV), Gibbon opens by setting the scene with the Empire as it stood in the time of Augustus (d. AD 14) before praising the time of the Antonines (AD 98-180). The death of Marcus Aurelius and the accession of Commodus and his successors ushers in turbulent and dangerous times which were only occasionally marked by a wise and temperate ruler. The volume ends in AD 324, with Constantine the Great becoming undisputed Roman emperor, uniting both the East and Western Empires.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Doug D. Eigsti on 02-11-15
Expand Your Vocabulary in Just 146 hours
Since all six volumes are of a piece I am reviewing it as such. This is a massive work and I will not attempt to extol all its virtues here. I have always had this on my reading list but knew that I would never devote months of reading time to tackling this history. This is a prime example of the superiority of the audio format in facilitating the assimilation of such lengthy books.
Here are my general impressions:
History is primarily an account of the leaders and ruling class. The vast unwashed masses pass through the halls of recorded history in abject silence.
The Roman Empire persisted for a very long time in many different forms. It is beyond my attention span to try to hold the entire span in my head. I admire Edward Gibbon for his ability to seemingly relate all these different eras with equal perspicuity. I will require a second pass through to more fully grasp
The influence of Christianity is the primary cause for the decline of the Roman Empire. One cannot hope to understand the underlying causes of the Roman Empire’s downfall without having a firm grasp of the doctrinal battles within the church. In order to make his reasoning clear to the listener Gibbon is careful to explain the fine points of Christian doctrine. He expounds, at length, the Arian heresy and its political implications. And, in a related episode, he relates the origins and expanse of the Mohammadan religion because of its impact on the Romans.
This is not merely a narrative history. Gibbon writes with high style and great aplomb. His humor is witty and droll and quite pervasive. The byzantine convolutions of this history are made beautiful by his flowing prose. This is a work of literature.
Either the common vocabulary of people in the eighteenth century was higher than that of people today or Gibbon has an incredible mastery of the English language, uncommon in any time. I prefer the latter.
David Timson has a wonderful sonorous voice; one quite suitable to hours of critical listening. His enunciation is crisp and his inflection perfectly suited to delivering Gibbon’s frequent backhanded compliments.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Allen L. Harris on 04-23-14
DAVID TIMSON IS AMAZING!
What did you love best about The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I?
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I?
Too many to count.
What does David Timson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
On paper Gibbon's prose can appear dauntingly monumental, but David Timson's reading makes it come alive. You feel almost as if Gibbon were chatting with you. An absolutely marvelous job!
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Again, too many to count.
Any additional comments?
Unfortunately Audible has adopted a policy of appending the Amazon.com reviews as a default if there are no reviews of the audiobook they are trying to sell. In the case of Gibbon, this means that anyone curious about this audiobook found himself wading through one-star reviews of a defective ebook version of Gibbon. So pay no attention to the Amazon.com reviews. The Naxos Gibbon is one of the great achievements of the "audible age," thanks to incredible reading of David Timson. (His Dickens is also wonderful.)
27 of 28 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lesleyboyd on 04-21-15
Old but gold
I was really impressed with this. it was some other reviews and a love of ancient civilisations that made me go for this and I am so glad I did. It does not seem to be written such a long time ago - indeed the way David Timson narrates it could have been written by a current historian. Fabulous albeit sweeping insight into the Roman Empire.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By hum3 on 06-08-16
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
This is an amazing book and feat of scholarship. We tried as a family the audio vox version and David Timson is just so much better at bringing it to life
2 of 2 people found this review helpful