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The Ruin of the Roman Empire

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

The Ruin of the Roman Empire

The Emperor Who Brought It Down, The Barbarians Who Could Have Saved It

James J O'Donnell

A provocative portrait of the end of Rome's empire in the 5th and 6th centuries by a major historian, who tells the story of the barbarians who might have saved it and the Emperor who brought it down.

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847653963 (26 May 2011)

About the book

What really marked the end of the Roman Empire? James O'Donnell's magnificent new book takes us back to the sixth century and the last time the Empire could be regarded as a single community. Two figures dominate his narrative - Theodoric the 'barbarian', whose civilized rule in Italy with his philosopher minister Boethius might have been an inspiration, and in Constantinople Justinian, who destroyed the Empire with his rigid passion for orthodoxy and his restless inability to secure his frontiers with peace. The book closes with Pope Gregory the Great, the polished product of ancient Roman schools, presiding over a Rome in ruins.

About the author

James J. O'Donnell, author of Augustine:Sinner and Saint, The Ruin of the Roman Empire, and the forthcoming Pagans, is an academic turned administrator who uses his wide-ranging world travels to inform and inspire his writing. Educated at Princeton and Yale, long on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, he is now Provost of Georgetown University.


'The Ruin of the Roman Empire is an exotic and instructive tale, told with life, learning and just the right measure of laughter on every page. O'Donnell combines a historian's mastery of substance with a born storyteller's sense of style to create a magnificent work of art. Perfect for history-lovers and admirers of great writing alike'

- Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

A vigorous history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire

- Kirkus Reviews

O'Donnell's richly layered book provides significant glimpses into the many factors that leveled a mighty empire

- Publishers Weekly

A vibrant new look at the Roman empire's collapse...a brief review cannot do justice to the lively, teeming canvas - political, religious, social and cultural - that O'Donnell paints, the extraordinary personalities that emerge, and his stimulating judgements

- Peter Jones, BBC History Magazine

An engagingly personal narrative of the 5th and 6th centuries

- Mary Beard, Sunday Times

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics