• The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1

  • By: Edward Gibbon
  • Narrated by: Bernard Mayes
  • Length: 41 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-19-07
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.7 (450 ratings)

Regular price: $34.96

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Publisher's Summary

Considered one of the finest historical works in the English language, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is lauded for its graceful, elegant prose style as much as for its epic scope. Remarkably accurate for its day, Gibbon's treatise holds a high place in the history of literature and remains an enduring subject of study. Gibbon's monumental work traces the history of more than 13 centuries, covering the great events as well as the general historical progression. This first volume covers A.D. 180 to A.D. 395, which includes the establishment of Christianity and the Crusades.
©Public Domain (P)1992 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"[Gibbon] stood on the summit of the Renaissance achievement and looked back over the waste of history to ancient Rome, as from one mountain top to another." (Christopher Dawson)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By William Penny on 08-20-08

What an age we live in

I can't see how anyone can complain about having such a great work, in it's entirety, in audio format. Personally, I would never have the time or drive to tackle it in text, but now I can turn it on each evening as I lay in bed and rest my eyes while some of the greatest events of mankind are narrated to me. As for the narrator, I don't understand the complaints others have lodge about him (I fear they have been spoiled by the quality of newer books). No, it's not hi-def quality, but it is by no means unpleasant to listen to the narrator. He has a slight British accent, a proper grasp of the material and the pronunciations of the ancient words, and ads emphasis and inflections to the prose. The somewhat antiquated quality of the narration makes it feel as if Gibbon himself is reading tale. This book is nothing short of a gift.

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53 of 55 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By MJL on 10-03-11

One of the best purchases of my life

I came on here to check something else, and was shocked to see the negative reviews. I spent three credits on this series a few years ago and they were the best-spent money of the last few years. It would be heaven to know that all my Audible purchases would be so rewarding.

The book is so classic that my voice would be nearly meaningless, but I'm sad to see the narrator so maligned. His stodgy sounding voice made the text come alive for me because he sounds just so classically English. Just as another reviewer said, it sounded like Gibbon himself was reading his book to me, or reciting the history of the decline and fall of Rome.

I really can't imagine why he's getting bad reviews. I guess I'm just the type of person who will appreciate a book like this and a narrator like this. What type is that? A lover of history, a lover of old things, a lover of classical things, I suppose.

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34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By melmoth2 on 01-28-08


I've been hanging on for an unabridged version of Gibbon for a while now and this well worth the wait. Some may find Bernard Mayes' delivery a little dry but the reprise of his slightly grandfatherly delivery from Herodotus' Histories suits Gibbon's prose perfectly. I'm not sure what edition is being used, I would guess it's the Penguin. The only gripe is that Gibbon's introduction is missing, as are the copious footnotes, but then constant digressions, as entertaining as they are in the original, probably wouldn't work in audio form. Highly recommended.

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26 of 26 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Natalia on 09-04-13

Great book, poor recording

What did you like about this audiobook?

This is one of the classics of the genre, and despite it's reputation for being dry and dusty is actually quite interesting with a wry sense of humour in places.

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

I am already a great fan of books about Roman history, so reading one that is so important to books that came after just makes me want to read more.

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

It really is the kind of style that you either enjoy it or hate it.

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

While the narrator is okay, the sound quality is woeful - at times it sounds like there is another person reading in the background or that this has been copied over another recording!

Do you have any additional comments?

It is a shame that such a great book is let down by such bad recording quality.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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