Peter Heather's book is a very detailed analysis of the fall of the Roman Empire. He tries to cover both the barbarian invasions, decadence, and economic woes of the Roman Empire.
Several things came as a shock to me. First, the barbarian "invasions" were more akin to mass migrations. The barbarians were mostly let in by the Romans, and even settled into new lands. They initially pledged allegiance to the Romans and fought in their wars. The Romans treated the barbarians with a shocking amount of respect.
Despite this, the barbarians were contemptuous of the Romans. They only partially integrated, and when times got tough, didn't side with the Romans. Instead they created their own kingdoms within the empire.
I also never fully internalized the timescale of the Roman empire. From the coup of Augustus and establishment of the empire around 0 AD to the sack of Rome in 410, a lot of time had passed. Augustus was as distant to the Romans in 410 as 1606 is to us. In 1606 America didn't exist, the Ottoman empire still controlled the middle east, and Italy and Germany only existed as city states. A lot changes in 410 years.
There was no single day when the empire fell. Instead, it withered away over decades into various successor states. Over time, Romans forgot the values which forged their empire. Everyone, not just Latins, became citizens. Use of language fragmented along geographic and sociopolitical classes.
There are a lot of names of emperors, barbarians, and generals, and it can get very confusing to parse out who is who at times. I wish that Heather had spent less time talking about specific people and more time talking about the barbarians as a group.
Overall I recommend the book to any Roman history buffs, but not to the uninitiated. The Fall of the Roman Empire, by Peter Heather, is too confusing to read on its own. I found myself constantly on wikipedia to follow the narrative. I also needed to look at maps of the time period to understand the geography.
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