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Attila the Hun

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  394 ratings  ·  46 reviews
The name Attila the Hun has become a byword for barbarism, savagery and violence. His is a truly household name, but what do we really know about the man himself, his position in history and the world in which he lived? This riveting biography reveals the man behind the myth.

In the years 434-454AD the fate of Europe hung upon the actions of one man, Attila, king of the Hun...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 17th 2006 by Bantam (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 741)
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Daniel Jon Kershaw
Hey there, I am a historical non-fiction about Attila the Hun. I might seem like a good read for those military historical buffs who want to get an insight into the general who brought Rome to her knees, but don’t be fooled.

I will spend 400 pages talking about pretty much everything else except the person who is titled on this book. Why do I do this? Because there is not a lot of information on him. Oh, don’t worry, I am are going to talk a lot about the lack of information. I will even dedicat...more
Jen
I get it. You got this great idea for a book about a Hun, so you pitch it..."yep going to be about 400 pages" and then you start researching.

Oh crap...there's not much on this guy. What's an author to do?

If you're John Man, you fill it with lots of random crap. Like (since it was audio) hours of discussion about this guy in modern day Hungary who taught himself how to shoot arrows from horseback, including how he picked out the land and how Man's translator thought he was hot. And how he made a...more
Shawn
This work was disappointing. I would have liked a lot more information on Attila, the man and person.
Most of the writing was more of a war history during the time and not a true biography on Attila the man.
The first 40% of the book is a three-chapter historical introduction that doesn't even deal with Attila at all. I understand the need for a brief history lesson to put things in perspective and to let the reader know how things and people came into place. But 120 pages of just a 300 page book...more
Paul
On paper, from the cover, I thought I would really enjoy this book but sadly, due mainly to the authors style and the editorial style used, I found it a slog at some times just carrying on with the book.

The author does seem to have a discernible talent to make cracking history books, it is just that is done in a pretty muddled, confusing sense and one in which he manages to make the titular figure look bland and virtually inconsequential. As well as this, the chapters are far too long making it...more
Judy
I thought that I knew quite a bit about Attila the Hun but clearly I was wrong. This book was full of new information for me--about the origins of the people that Attila led, the character of the man himself, and the impact that he had on the history of Europe. For about two decades in the 5th century, it appeared that Attila had the power and the momentum to determine the fate of the Roman Empire. He led the largest and strongest of the barbaric forces that challenged Rome. In three major campa...more
Atilla
I am sorry but this book have not earned the paper which it has been printed. Since I am Hungarian (you know : HÚNgarian!!!) I think it is a pure and insidious reviling about me and my people.
Beside my feelings this "John MAN" has not the slightest idea of the history of Húns.
firts of all: He was called A-T-I-L-L-A , not A-T-T-I-L-A.
What he and you all in Western Europe know about the Húns and Atilla is 'filtered through Jordanes' works. (He was a Vizygot writer whose people were real murderers,...more
Hector Ramirez
John Man's Attila the Hun has to be one the best books about Attila out there.

The theme of the book is never under estimate your enemies. A perfect example would be is when the Romans suffered a terrible defeat in the Teutoburg Forest of Germany. The romans thought the Germans were a bunch of barbarians who didn't know how to fight, but after that battle they were terribly mistaken.

I loved how the author made the book sound really dramatic. He would recount how bloody and gory the battles were....more
Katrin
this book was confusing. in the beginning I wanted to give four stars, then two, and now settle for three. first of all, the title of the book is wrong. this is not about attila, this book is about the huns and their success under attila. I understand that not much is left of attila and whatever documents we have are not written by huns since they did not document their history. thus man had to grab at thin threads, suspicions and unverified info. he tried very hard and went to most places himse...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Man is a totally gifted writer. His mix of historical fact, theory and travel writing is gripping, entertaining and funny, packed with information and wonderful little titbits. One example being the origin of the name Humphrey or Umberto, which originally meant something like 'maker of peace with Huns'. Or the origin of the name for Orleans, based on the name of Marcus Aurelius, who built a bridge there (which was first destroyed by Julius Ceasar).

Man shows that it's likely, but not completely...more
Cassy Draker
My book review is on a biography by John Man named Attila the Barbarian king who challenged Rome. This biography is on Attila the Hun, a barbarian war leader who transformed the army of Huns into some of the world greatest warriors. The book started with telling the background of the land and the tribes before the huns, like the Xiongnu tribe. The Xiongnu tribe and the Huns were believed to be related. which is proven on page 53. As the book developed it continued to talk about when Attila was b...more
Josh Lovvorn
As a fan of history in general, I picked this title up from the audiobooks at my local library. I was pretty excited by it, and it started off very promising. Mr. Man reaches way back, touching on the roots of the Huns, questioning accepted explanations of their ancestry and doing a fine job of it all.

His detailed explanation of events is unreproachable. He goes at length at who his sources are, and recounts their reliability almost excessively. He paints portraits of battles with a free hand th...more
Louise
With little information available, Man gives as informative a book as might be expected. Maybe 1/3 of it is about Attila, including what is known of his family, his headquarters, his entertainments and of course his battles.

While the history of Huns and the rise and fall of Attila are the themes of the book, the author presents this period of the Roman Empire in a very readable way. Last year I had read the Peter Heather book on Rome and the barbarians, and for description of Rome in this period...more
Zeke Chase
“I hesitate to tell you the name of the town, because it obeys the First Law of Hungarian Linguistics, which states that the smaller the town, the more impossible it is for outsiders to pronounce. It’s Hódmőzávárhely...”

You see, he’s making a joke about Hungarian pronunciation in a historical biography. His prose is certainly not dry. And this is why I like John Man. This is the third book of his I’ve read (after “Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection” and “Kublai Khan: The Mongol King that...more
bkwurm
Very little is known about the Huns. While it is widely believed that they were originally the XiongNu, driven out of the steppes north of China by a resurgent Han empire and ended up at the borders of Europe, there is actually very little actual proof for this belief.

Similarly, Attila is shrouded in tales, myth and polemic. In this book, the author tries to separate out the facts. As it turns out, Attila was a warlord who, after Constantinople stopped paying him the annual tribute, had little...more
Josh Hamacher
It took Man a lot of words to basically say "we really don't know much about Attila".

Don't get me wrong - what's here certainly feels pretty authoritative, and I have no reason to doubt anything that's written. Man is very upfront about identifying known facts, informed opinions, and speculation. But the long and short of it is that there aren't many hard facts about Attila, or the Huns in general.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It's well-written but personally I found the switches from third-person...more
Aza
This book is a wonderful, exciting and unique look at the life of Attila the Hun and the effects of his actions on Rome. Unlike most historical books, it is written as if it is still happening and John Man's combination of genius, humor and doubt lends greater insight into Attila the Hun.
Furthermore, he delves into the interesting and long forgotten world of mounted archery, and described in detail the skill level, devotion, dedication and proficiency with which Hun riders wielded bows. He also...more
Jack
This was my first book exclusively dealing with the Huns. Before you pick up this book, you must be fairly well versed on the Eastern and Western Roman Empires to understand the background. If you are not, you may have a hard time understanding the circumstances since there is very little explanation within the book about the history of the combined Roman Empires.

That being said, I was expecting a bit more detail. The author does include his travels and recent archeological evidence to back up...more
Sanity Assasin
Jul 17, 2008 Sanity Assasin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people genuinely interested in the subject matter
while not as good as the same authors genghis khan study, this book uses the available source material to show attila's journey through life. it's a very interesting read that gives you some facts about other subjects along the way too. you learn not only about the huns but also about the vandals, the two tribes of goths and the eastern and western roman empires... which attila took center stage to. one of the most interesting chapters is about the mounted hun archer and the devastating bow weap...more
Bear Mcbearington
If I wanted info on everything going on at the time EXCEPT for Attila, I would of just read a general European history book.
Sorin Hadârcă
A mediocre storyteller an a pretty dumb historian, John Man embarks on some kind of historical journalism filling in gaps of knowledge with speculative imagination.
taarak
Apr 16, 2007 taarak rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ancient History Buffs
Another excellent history-based biopic epic. Highly readable.

In the years 434-454 A.D., the fate of Europe hung upon the actions of one man: Attila, king of the Huns. The decaying Roman Empire still stood astride the Western World, but it was threatened by a new force, the much-feared barbarian hordes. Attila was the one-man wrecking ball that helped put the final boot into Rome's decaying splendor. Today, Attila remains the most enduring bogeyman in history, his name a byword for barbarism, sa...more
Monica Perez
Full of irrelevancies, the author's politics and prejudices, this is long on speculation and short on facts. The writing isn't bad as far as turning a phrase, but he's no scholar yet thinks himself enough of one to opine ad naseum on occasion. Maybe 20% of the book was real solid info on attila the rest was frustrating. I think maybe there isn't much info on attila (i didn't get much more along other avenues) but it was over-billed.
Maximilian Surjadi
Kelemahan:
- Ketidakmampuan penulis untuk fokus pada satu topik
- Pembahasan Attila secara spesifik yang amat sedikit (mungkin 20% dari buku)

Keunggulan:
- Pemikiran kritis penulis (pembandingan 'legenda' dengan fakta sosial-kultural saat itu dan keadaan geografis) yang dapat mengeliminasi referensi-referensi sejarah palsu atau berlebihan.
- Informasi seputar kaum nomaden dan hal lainnya yang terkadang cukup menarik perhatian.
Tavis Long
Bogs down a little; however, great narrative on a relatively mysterious man in history.
anik soemarni
Some people see Atilla as a destroyer...some other see him as a savior. The man who push beyond the limit in his era. From barbarism into kingdom, from nobody into an emperor who challenged Rome, he changed the live of Hun people, to be a more civilized tribe, own larger land, conquering bigger kingdom. He became a hero and destroyer at the same time, a role model and the biggest enemy.
Eric Smith
If you're looking for a work that is strictly a biography, well, this isn't it. If you're looking for a book that uses what we know about an enigmatic ruler to frame a history of a people, a setting, and a mythology most folks know little about, then this is for you. Attila the man is, well, largely lost. Attila the force of nature and the myth, however, something different.
Jim Good
Basic biography of Attila. Concentrates on giving a historical feel for the time since not much was written about Attila by anyone but the Romans and they were not kind in their assessment. Man tries to be balanced, but it is difficult to do when all written history is negative. Gives a good description of the Hun method of battle and how that was different than the Roman.
Hector
The book was alright. I like how they remember what year Attila died. This has to be the hardest non-fiction book I have ever read and the longest. Some parts of the book were really confusing and some pages had some weird words.. For example, guerrilla, deity, hippodrome, and reins. These words were some the few words that got me confused.
Scott
An interesting, in-depth piece of writing, telling me more about "The Hun" than I could ever want to know. Really needed to take my time with it, due to the deep coverage. Hard to believe we know that much about a man from thousands of years ago, and yet so little about so many people who live today.
Kevin
A great historical perspective on the challenge of a man on an entire region of the world. The displacment caused by a single man fed into current feuds throughout time. His actions a couple hundred years ago still impact of us today. Puts the idea of history and current events into a clear view.
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong page count 3 16 Mar 21, 2014 11:23AM  
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John Anthony Garnet Man is a British historian and travel writer. His special interests are China, Mongolia and the history of written communication. He takes particular pleasure in combining historical narrative with personal experience.

He studied German and French at Keble College, Oxford, before doing two postgraduate courses, a diploma in the History and Philosophy of Science at Oxford and Mon...more
More about John Man...
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