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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1-3: Volumes 1, 2, 3 (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire #1)

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  495 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Easily the most celebrated historical work in English, Gibbon's account of the Roman empire was in its time a landmark in classical and historical scholarship and remains a remarkable fresh and powerful contribution to the interpretation of Roman history more than two hundred years after its first appearance. Its fame, however, rests more on the exceptional clarity, scope ...more
Hardcover, 1952 pages
Published October 26th 1993 by Everyman's Library (first published 1781)
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Jun 26, 2008 Bradley rated it it was amazing
The most astounding work of history ever written. The irony is great, the footnotes are hilarious. He never gets old. His greatest detractors are usually those who never could stomach 2,400 pages or more nor the healthy dose of footnotes. Those who have made the journey realize subtle differences creeping into their existence -- they begin slipping words like 'indolent' and 'flagitious' into memos and conversations or they construct sentences with a newfound reliance on the semicolon. I can pict ...more
Jul 18, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Volume 1. Many years ago, I read a 800 or 900 page abridgment, and assumed I had "read" Gibbon. Not so. After reading the first volume, it's clear, you can't cram 6 books into 1 book. Just not the same thing. The author and his achievement are lost in such packaging. Oh, you'll get some good nuggets (Gibbon is great on those), but what you're losing is a true sense of the vastness of Rome, and its history.

And what of that history? The first volume. I'm not even going to try to describe in any de
Bob Simon
May 16, 2012 Bob Simon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Momsen was a better historian, but Gibbon a better writer. Forget about historical accuracy and just enjoy the writing. I purchased the three volume Heritage Press edition, with Piranesi illustrations, when I was a young paratrooper. I carried at least one of the volumes in my field pack...a labor of intense love, as they are not light. The middle volume has dried blood on it from when I was injured and wouldn't part with it. I read and re-read...and then re-re-read. Open it to any volume.. to a ...more
Jul 17, 2008 Terese rated it really liked it
I read this one summer while working as a temp during college, I found the set at a garage sale. My assignment, answering the phones (in a small closet made mostly of glass) at an advertising agency, was making me feel low and stupid so these books were my antidote. Who could make fun of a temp reading Gibbon?

As I recall I wound up with a little notebook full of lists of characters and family trees so that as I read along and forgot what had happened earlier I could refresh my memory. At times,
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
The local book shop made this set available to me last night. Three volumes, hardcover with dust jackets, seemingly unread condition, no marks no owner's name, (but) no slip case, damage limited to common shipping related corner-crush but otherwise as-new -- US$28 amounts to much pocket-change-savings over the typical abe$175. That be $2 in excess of the cover price of Danielewski's latest.

Proust2013/Gibbon2013. Any brave souls to schedule this one?
Apr 22, 2008 Jimmy rated it liked it
Gibbon's Enlightenment era perspective tends to occlude the accuracy of historical account (as is often the case). What's funny is just how much critical flack this book has received for being inaccurate. In historical context, it may have something to do with Gibbon's ostensibly atheistic views regarding the rise of Christianity that followed the fall of the Roman Empire. He writes about religious zeal with the same indignant revulsion as Freud or Darwin later would. Gibbon does provide a melli ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
1680+ pages and I am now officially 1/2 done. Love Gibbon's sense of humor, his methodology, his hard bigotry towards the Huns, his soft bigotry towards the Christians, and his ability to find interesting nouns to link with rapine: "idleness, poverty, and rapine"; "rapine and oppression"; "violence and rapine"; "rapine and cruelty"; "rapine and torture"; "rapine and corruption"; "rapine and disregard"; "War, rapine, and freewill offerings" AND that is all just volume one. An important and intere ...more
Feb 16, 2008 Justin rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
I'm only on the second book of this series, but I think I've read enough to mention a point of caution to prospective buyers. Like all classics, "The Decline and Fall" is available in an untold number of editions and I would simply advise against buying the boxed set from Everyman's Library.

I'm going to confess that I bought this particular edition because it looked academic and gave me a warm smug feeling. Just open that plain green hardcover with golden lettering and thread bookmark, and try N
Charles Gonzalez
Four books complete , two more to go. Book four focuses on the reign of Justinian and his wife, Theodora, who was elevated to queen by virtue of her marriage. Justinian is a complex character, eager to reign strong and well but suffering from very real human limitations of morality, confidence and trust. The highlight and pinnacle of Justinian's reign are the martial accomplishments of Belisarius, the general that Gibbon ranks with the exploits of Alexander in terms of personal bravery in battle ...more
Emilian Kasemi
Eruditi qe kembengul se: qyteterimi romak nuk vdiq nga pleqeria e tij por "ai u vra", ka thene tri te verteta te kunderta, se qyteterimi romak vrau veten, se nuk ka asgje te bukur te vrasesh veten, por ai nuk vdiq, sepse qyteterimet nuk jane te vdekshme dhe se shpirti romak mbijetoi, permes barbareve, gjate gjithe mesjetes dhe pertej saj.
Susan Ames
Jan 02, 2009 Susan Ames is currently reading it
I have an old hardbound 7 volume copy of this "book" and have just finished book 3. I can only take it in small doses and frequently re-read sections because of the style of writing - 18th century English. But I will finish it, because it is an amazing chronicle of history that has affected us all for the last milennia. I wish I had read it sooner.
Feb 15, 2016 Andrew marked it as abandoned
Why I abandoned one sentence: because hahahahaha there's no way I'm going to finish all six volumes in 2016, which means "Congratulations Mr Simpson!"

I probably would have given it: five stars, obviously.
Frederick Jackson
Jul 07, 2011 Frederick Jackson rated it it was amazing
Vol 3 on the thousand years of the Eastern Empire and its long list of eunoch emperors ets can put you to sleep. But his beautiful prose does not flag. Gibbon is wonderful, right to the last blast of Mehemts great cannon.
Adebayo Oyagbola
Dec 20, 2012 Adebayo Oyagbola rated it really liked it
Fantastic imagery, the best writer of English ever!
Apr 10, 2012 Alan rated it it was amazing
Best ever. Words don't do it justice.
Balls Montgomery
Sep 11, 2016 Balls Montgomery rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Roman Period is by far the most fascinating portion of history in my humble/correct opinion (from Romulus to Constantine XI). Everything from the people, the battles, the language, the enemies, the religion, the engineering, and the brilliance is something always swells my brain with raw emotion. I'm fully invested in every aspect, when I see a modern map of the world I designate those who once flourished under Roman rule the most fortunate of fellows. The subject awakens something deep in m ...more
Jun 14, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
After finishing Volume I:

I picked up the first three volumes of the Everyman set when Borders closed its closest store, and decided to dig in as the capper of my "independent study" on Turkish history.

Gibbon's inimitable writing was a major draw, and it's proven true that his style and wit has pulled me along through chapters that might otherwise be heavy-sledding.

Gibbon's 18th century masterpiece (the first half of which was published before he was 40) sets out an epic tale of Rome's degenerat
Jun 12, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: paused
Thus far, I'm really enjoying this. Gibbon's writing has such a far-sighted and sonorous tone. There's little I can say that I'm sure others haven't already said over the years, but still I can say that I am delighted to finally get round to this classic and to find it more enjoyable than I expected. The subject matter sounds dry, but Gibbon's observations about matters of privilege, power and the inexorable ravages of time on civilizations are all so pithy. Time upon time he makes a sweeping ge ...more
Abimelech Abimelech
Dec 01, 2016 Abimelech Abimelech rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lifer
Of my unabridged three volume edition, I am about 66% of the way through. In Kabbalah, in Talmudic studies, many have warned the uninitated: go through proper training before you tap into this realm. Otherwise? You might die.

In our age of eternal propaganda, governmental criminality, proclaiming to hate all religions equally whilst solely ever attacking one, this book could kill anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account. This book will kill anyone whose moral compass consists of Xanax, kharaoke,
Aug 16, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
It took a while to slug through these three volumes of this masterpiece of history. Gibbon clearly sets the standard for historical academic writing, although these unabridged volumes are not for the casual reader. Although often dry, the footnotes are often humorous, suprisingly so. One definitely gets a good feel for how and why the Roman Empire, especially in the West, slid into decline. What was most interesting to me was the fact that the Western Empire didn't collapse quicker than it did. ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
A classic work. One of the quotes from these volumes resonates with me still, as I observe the decline of the United States: "At the same time, when [the Roman Emperor] Decius was struggling with the violence of the tempest, his mind, calm and deliberate amidst the tumult of war, investigated the more general causes that, since the age of the Antonines, had so impetuously urged the decline of the Roman greatness. He soon discovered that it was impossible to replace that greatness on a permanent ...more
Aug 07, 2008 Professor rated it liked it
Gibbon's work is well written, but so comprehensive that it was easy to get lost as soon as I lost focus and began reading other books. The final straw was his lengthy section on the early history of Christianity. Not that it wasn't interesting, but it felt like such a shift from his year by year history of Rome that I became totally lost. Someday I'll go back and try and tackle this again, preferably after I brush up on the history of the Empire in a more accessible, less detailed format.
Dec 19, 2007 Inder marked it as to-read
Shelves: history, europe
Update: My dad came to visit last night, and with his eagle eyes, this is the first thing he saw on my bookshelf. I admit, there is a nice coating of dust on them (and a bunch of porcelain dogs all around them) - I've just been looking at these gorgeous volumes and getting intimidated, but he says #1 is best anyway, so maybe I'll get started sooner rather than later?


I want to read this before I die. And I'll start small, with volumes 1-3.
Jun 11, 2011 sologdin rated it really liked it
I guess this is the standard popular accounting. not sure if it's correct in either its factual allegations or its conceptual conclusions. but the prose is great and it's a lot of fun arguing back at him.

as to facts & conclusions, i prefer to counter with GEM de. Ste. Croix's Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World.
Dirk Buken
Jun 13, 2013 Dirk Buken rated it it was amazing
Verfall und Untergang des Römischen Reiches habe ich während des Zivildienst gelesen. Es war eine Phase in der ich nicht wenig Zeit hatte.
Bedauerlicherweise habe ich die deutsche Übersetzung dem Original vorgezogen. Doch auch so war der Stil unverwechselbar und brilliant.
Es ist erstaunlich, dass ein Werk, das 300 Jahre alt ist, dennoch auch heute noch so kraftvoll erscheint.
Jan 27, 2009 Tom rated it liked it
Yes I read all 7, 8 if you count the notes and addendums. (old everymans library edition) Yes it took me a long time, 6 months. No I do not understand all of it as my Latin is barely conversational, but yes I see the similarities. I would recommend it to any aspiring polotician or milatary officer, the rest of us should remain blissfully ignorant.
David J.
Oct 10, 2008 David J. rated it liked it
As part of my Great Books reading for this year, I am reading chapter 15 & 16 regarding the impact of Christianity on the Roman Empire.

Although doctrines have changed and the group as a whole has splintered, the Christian has not changed much since Roman times.
William Masero
Aug 09, 2012 William Masero rated it it was amazing
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is up there with the very best of books written in English: King James Bible (English translation from Hebrew and Greek), the complete works of Shakespeare, and the complete works of Dickens. Nothing else comes remotely close.
May 22, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing
I read the Folio Society Editions. It was great, but I should note that the final volumes exclude several footnotes as determined by the editor (the editor changed for later editions as the initial editor died while the editions were being prepared)
Dec 15, 2011 Jan rated it liked it
OK, to be honest I only read/heard the first 300+ pages, but by then the patterns of good emperor/bad emperor, corrupt Praetorian Guards and increasing Barabarian inroads were well established ;-)
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Edward Gibbon (8 May 1737 – 16 January 1794) was an English historian and Member of Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. The Decline and Fall is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open criticism of organised religion.

Gibbon returned to England
More about Edward Gibbon...

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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (2 books)
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