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This time in history has become one of my (always 2 or 3 at a time) "go to" study fixations for now. The countless comparisons and contrasts with our own society and times are irresistible. This work is encyclopedic, moving pretty briskly (its vast scope considered) with a critical eye across laws and government, but also arts, architecture, popular culture, literature, the fates of the trading and servant classes, etc. In the manner of many of these slightly older histories, it moves with a nice cadence, but this one is a bit more patient and detailed than most. It zooms in and out on various topics with reasonable freshness mostly. The Latin words, as for various political titles, are mighty familiar (also showing themselves as precursors of Catholic nomenclature). The book compared to the many others nowadays available does not carry the most artful and sprightly energy, so, I would only recommend it as an early entry in studying this field to those mature and patient and reasonably widely educated already. Only occasionally does some single vivid, piercing imagery leap out (as in the descriptions of vulgar and ghastly sports and entertainments lavished on the city commoners). For such a reader, the rewards are plentiful. My store of knowledge is widened and deepened here, across the very wide range of topics. And in history and social sciences, the tapestry of what causes what is so vast and complex, it takes for me often a vast and complex array of events explained to feel even a little confidence in my notions of what was going on.
Some find this narrator pompous. I think he's great, with a strong and clear and confident voice. Fortunately he is prolific too.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Lot covers many elements of the decline of the ancient world (science, various art forms, political..etc). The book gives a rare combination of depth of understanding with broad survey. Some would complain that hes not P.C. or 'deliberative enough"-- e.g. he will flat out say that "by the 5th century plastic art had declined and was utterly worthless" A mark of a great historian is one who is capable of and not afraid to give you rapid judgements and explanations on small items. its a bit out of vogue today.
The production--chuckle! well..others have complained about the gongs, the gregorian chants at the end, the weird reverb chamber when the narrator reads quotes. Yes its a bit strange or as some have called it "cheesy". I like griffin well enough though, even if he over emphasizes -sort of like John Houseman in the old smith barney commercials. The weird production is a minor element that has little real impact
3 of 3 people found this review helpful