Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome
by John Man
Published in 2009
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
John Man traces the history of the Huns from their potential Xiongnu origins until their integration into modern European States like Hungary, and does a great job at highlighting the life and genocides of Attila.
There are numerous very interesting tidbits scattered throughout this book. For example, I had never given mounted archery much of a thought. The section of the book where John Man describes the difficulties and intense training involved really shocked and fascinated me. I also thought that the sections about Attila’s early campaigns against the Persians and the Eastern Empire fascinated me. I enjoyed reading about the Eastern Empire’s embassy to Attila which is rife with plots and intrigue.
My only criticism is that, at certain points, the author grasps at historical straws and attempts to portray them as a lot more than they really are. For example, a body was found in France which he attributes (without much evidence) to the king of the Goths.
The part that stuck with me the most was the description of how Attila drank himself to death and choked on his own blood. A worthy death for a tyrant who spilled the blood of thousands of innocents.
Overall, I found this to be a decent read, especially for people who are very interested in late Roman history and for people who want to get a better understanding of the transition from Empire to Feudalism.
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