Barbarians within the Gates of Rome
by Thomas S Burns
Published in March 1995
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
This book describes itself as “A Study of Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians CA 375-425 AD.” That description is aft. This is one of the best Roman history books that I have read in a very long time.
Barbarians within the Gates is a chronological study of extant sources and archeological information of the period after the Battle of Adrianople where the Roman Empire begin letting in massive amounts of barbarians. He explores the reasons why large populations of barbarians were granted political autonomy and even kingship within the territory of the Roman Empire.
The quality of the historiography is very high. The time period being covered is well-defined and specific. Thomas S Burns cites all of the sources he used, and makes a point of extensively analyzing their respective merits and flaws. He also cites the archeological evidence that he uses.
I also enjoyed the writing style. It was very clear and descriptive. Sentences were succinct and informative. Just the right amount of details were repeated to make following along easy, without making the book tedious and boring.
This book is fairly difficult, and I don’t recommend it to people who aren’t already familiar with the history of the late Roman Empire. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in delving deeply into the reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
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