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As a history student, I always felt that the Byzantine Empire played a critical role in the development of Western civilization, yet it had always been shrouded in a cloud of mystery. This audio book blows that cloud away, allowing the listener to see the historical events that shaped European development as it emerged from a backwater collection of barbaric forces and into a viable player on the world scene.
Professor Madden is a competent lecturer; both thorough regarding pertinent facts as well as cyclical; meaning that he brings the listener back to points he had made earlier, effectively tying together sequences of events and how they interrelate.
After reading a review by another reviewer regarding the heavy "Christian bias" in this work, I feel that he must not be referring to this book at all, but another, for I found zero bias regarding any particular viewpoint. Christianity is certainly emphasized, as it must be with regard to the history of Byzantium (or of the West in general), for it played an enormous role in the shaping of policy, diplomacy and gave cause for empire-shaking wars and conquests.
Constantinople was filled with churches, monasteries, icons and the like. It was an extraordinarily religious city. It's relationship with Rome was hampered by differences in religious doctrine - minor points by atheists' standards or the generally non-religious, but the people of that time period were anything but that. Therefore, various doctrinal points regarding their eternal fates would certainly play a major role in all the aspects of their lives. Dr. Madden simply presents the facts. There is no bias.
Admittedly, I enjoy lectures. This cannot be said of all people. I enjoy a dry presentation as well as a sparkling one; provided the facts are straight. This is grade A material, sure to be enjoyed by any budding historical scholar.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful
This was a good listen but really left me wanting more.
I wanted more connections made between the different lectures.
I'm usually a fan of the Modern Scholar series but every time I got really interested in a topic it felt like it ended.
The structure was separate lectures on some important topics (important according to the author) but they seemed somewhat disjointed from one another.
I wanted more connections made between the different themes.
Definitely listen if the topic interests you but if you are addicted to this kind of audiobook (like I am) It might not leave you feeling entirely satisfied.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I just finished listening to Professor Madden's lectures on the History of the Byzantine Empire and cannot recommend it enough to anyone interested in history.
Not only is the history of the of the Byzantine Empire interesting, per se, but one also learns a lot of background information about things in Western Europe. For example, one learns how and why the Pope came to rule extended lands in Italy, how Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire "by accident", and many others.
The text is excellent with a lot of wit, particularly when discussing all the various schisms that occured on religious grounds over 1000 years between the Popes and the Patriarchs of Constantinople.
The delivery of Professor Madden is a bit hesitant and stilted, at the beginning, but one gets used to it and around the middle of the series of lectures the sound engineers do some tweaking and the voice is less nasal. In any case it is obvious that these lectures are being given by someone who knows the Bizantine Empire inside out and one is left with an heavy heart when it finally collapses in 1453 (sorry for the spoiler ;-).
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
this was a very clear, easy to listen to and informative series of lectures on a subject that has been generally neglected and few know very much about.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful