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Byzantium: The Apogee
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Byzantium: The Apogee (A History of Byzantium #2)

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  509 ratings  ·  18 reviews
In Byzantium: The Early Centuries, the author told the epic tale of the Roman Empire's second capital up to Christmas Day AD 800, when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as a rival emperor. This second volume of the trilogy covers the following three centuries.
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (first published January 1st 1991)
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This author has written several book on Mediterranean history - I first read The Kingdom in the Sun, about medieval Sicily, many years ago and loved it. He writes in a very readable style: his interest in culture and art generally, and in historical figures as real people, makes his books a great introduction to what would otherwise be quite an academic area. This one is the middle of a trilogy covering the thousand year history of the Byzantine Empire, which despite being thoroughly Greek in la ...more
Bob Fowler
I found this to be a fascinating book as it finally revealed to me the glorious story of the Byzantine Empire during the period when it was at its height of prestige and power from 800 to 1110 A.D. I had wanted to know this history for a long time but had not read anything about it, and this satisfied me greatly. It is a tale of courage and cowardice, of heroes and knaves, of great victories and terrible defeats, all told within the story of the rise and fall of so many who sought to take over t ...more
The second volume covering the history of the Byzantium Empire is just as entertaining as the first. The book is a very high-level survey of leaders and battles, court intrigue and religious schisms. As the title suggests, this volume gets us to the height of Byzantium's power and prestige under Basil II, though upon his death, the empire goes into a quick and steady decline. The author's sense of humor and his enthusiasm for sifting through source material to explain what we think happened when ...more
Chase Parsley
Norwich second installment about the Byzantines is an absolute atom bomb of a book that cannot be missed. The book covers the years 800-1081, and it is on par with the greatest page-turning fiction story out there.

I recently rated Norwich's first Byzantine book and wrote my top five memories from it. If I may continue the tradition, here are my top five from "The Apogee" (SPOILER alert):

5) The death of Leo V. Like something out of a Jason Statham movie, the Emperor is attacked on Christmas Day,
Mark Rossiter
Second volume: more of the same, equally entertaining and well-written, with the same caveats. Most monstrous character: Basil the Macedonian, who maneuvered himself from stable boy to imperial confidant to Michael III, murdered the emperor’s uncle (who had effectively been running the state), persuaded Michael to proclaim him co-emperor, then disabled the locks on his co-emperor’s sleeping quarters and had him murdered in his sleep. Most hideous atrocity: Basil II, after capturing in battle a B ...more
Gordon Doherty
This second book in Norwich's trilogy eloquently takes the reader through Byzantium's tangled and complex high period. The journey is intriguing, at times hair-raising (most memorably the desperate and sorry end of Michael V: and beautifully written throughout.

The author writes with an obvious passion, critical eye and at times a dry wit as he takes the reader over the years starting with the crowning of Charlemagne, through the phases of Iconoclasm and th
Graham Podolecki
An excellent survey of the Byzantine Empire at its apex. Provides a fascinating portrait of the men and women who are recorded from this time, and Norwich provides a very fascinating argument as to why the Empire began to decline after the death of Basil II. The greatest drawback of this book is how, like most broad history's tends to fall into monarch chronicling and making life in the Imperial court as life in the Empire. Besides that, it is a very compelling read.
Magisterial but approachable. Some of the easiest-reading history I've ever encountered. Norwich's passion for the subject shines throughout.
Jesús Rodriguez
The second part of the Byzantine empire and may have been even better than the first one. Same old what if's in this book. What if an emperor Isaac Comnenus did not die two years of his reign before rebuilding the army that was in disarray in the 11th century, what if the Patriarchs were more diplomatic with the popes in Rome, what if the "traitor" Adronicus Ducas did not betrayed emperor Romanus IV Diogenes at the battle of Manzikert and lot's, lot's more... Fantastic read and recommended for a ...more
Narrative history that's very well written. There's little insight beyond the personalities of the prominent figures and the character of the main events but there's little source material on the Byzantine economy anyway and there's enough here to come to your own conclusions on the politics. Choice quotes of the chronicles throughout. If I find a cheap copy of the final volume, Id definitely buy it for a light read.
Three volumes history of the rise and fall of Byzantium and Norwich is brilliant. It's full of memorable characters, evil deeds and suspense and it's supremely erudite while being not just readable but fun to read. Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall' has a worthy sequel in this.
Steven Burkhardt
If you are not a history buff you will find this dry, boring, and long. I on the other hand am interested in history. I didn't know much about the Byzantine Empire so I have found this fascinating.
Long before this book was written, it's title became a synonym for ornate confusion. As good and clear a writer as Norwich is, one can easily see from this series how this came to be.
Nick Wallace
Read and learn of the Bulgar Khan Krum and his drinking cup made from an emperor's skull! Marvel at the rise of Basil II Bulgaroctonus (the Bulgar-slayer) and his revenge!
second in the series on Byzantium. One gets heady with the power of an empire at full bloom. Norwich can really tell a tale.
Norwich continues his history of the Byzantine Empire. An enjoyable read by a master.
Second volume in a great history of The Byzantine Empire. Fascinating reader.
Lawrence Gottlieb
a classic, beautifully written.
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Norwich is the only child of the Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper and of Lady Diana Cooper, a celebrated beauty and society figure. Through his father, he is descended from King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan.

He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, Canada (as a wartime evacuee), at Eton College, and at the University of Strasbourg. He served in the Royal Navy
More about John Julius Norwich...
A Short History of Byzantium Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy Byzantium: The Early Centuries A History of Venice Byzantium: The Decline and Fall

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