Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Ruin of the Roman Empire

I just posted my first addition to my web site in about a year, a long review of James O'Donnell's The Ruin of the Roman Empire. This is an interesting book that blames the final collapse of the Roman empire on emperor Justinian and his policies. It has a lot of interesting material on life in the fifth and sixth centuries. It is also, I think, very wrong. The treatment of the barbarians -- Goths, Vandals, Franks, and so on -- and their contribution to European history is especially wrong. O'Donnell wrote this book in 2006 to 2007, and he seems to have been motivated by an anxiety that George W. Bush was a new Justinian whose imperial ambitions might have equally disastrous effects.

One problem with putting too much commentary on contemporary events into your history is that sometimes the contemporary situation changes quickly, and your comparisons become outdated before your book is three years old.

No comments: