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Attila the Hun

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  637 Ratings  ·  73 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
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Bantam (first published 2005)
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Hayley Shaver Because he can't make up anything, as he is a historian. There just isn't a lot of information, so no one is going to sketch out a blow by blow…moreBecause he can't make up anything, as he is a historian. There just isn't a lot of information, so no one is going to sketch out a blow by blow battle.(less)

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Aug 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Myke Cole
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I prize accessibility almost as much as scholarly accuracy in historical monographs. Readers of my reviews have heard me rail time and time again against the turgidity of academic writing, which renders even monumental works useless due to their failure to win an audience.

This is not a problem for Man, whose background as a travel writer shines through. He breaks every academic rule, engaging in tangents and flights of fancy, chasing rabbits down holes and building castles in the air, injecting
Daniel Jon Kershaw
May 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
May 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
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,
Elliott Bignell
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this for a second time as part of an effort to thin my bookshelves, intending to pass it on to local asylum-seekers via a charity, but I can't do it. I just have to keep this and read it again. I've also hooked up with one of the practitioners of Hunnish archery on Facebook in the hope of one day seeing her perform. (I'm a bit long in the tooth to actually attend classes.) Yes, she's a she, Pettra Engeländer - a clear echo of the Hunnish women warriors who may have been part of an Asiatic ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, europe
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
Faith Justice
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
This book gave me fits. I bought it because Attila is a minor character in a couple of my books set in 5C Imperial Rome and I wanted more information on his background--just for my personal education. The author has a degree in history and has written several other "narrative histories" which I take as writing for a general audience (very few footnotes and more conversational style). In that he succeeded. However he made lots of minor mistakes in his Roman history. Easily checked things such rev ...more
Patrick Ross
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
After reading this book, I want to read more works by John Man. His conversational style and depth of research are top-notch. And he's chosen as the subject of this book a fascinating character from history that I wanted to know more about. Unfortunately, as Man admits, there isn't much of a historical record to work from on this subject; most of what was written down was by his enemies, and much of it was flat-out wrong.

Man does the best one can to craft a book regardless, and you'll learn a l
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one, the time period & historical events are fascinating and Man's writing is enjoyable, suspenseful while closely sticks to the facts. In the rare case where he does stray into speculation, he always clearly states so.

The chapters dealing strictly with Attila fill about a third of the book, while the rest deals with major events in the Balkans, some insights about mounted archery and personal anecdotes about various expeditions the author participated in. I understand
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe the book's title is deceiving since not much is really known about Attila the Hun (not even his birth name). Huns aren't known as chroniclers of their own stories (much is learned from a Roman soldier and historian called Ammianus and a Goth named Jordanes). "Attila" by John Man is about everything else around the subject its title suggests. I found it to be quite interesting, kind of chatty and at times personally funny (at the moment I'm remembering that the author liked a Disney movie w ...more
Paul Colver
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised with the average rating of 3.49 as I rated the book a 5. A sense of humor, scholarly, well written, debunking the myths, tying Attila into the Roman Empire's troubles.
The description of the military tactics were precise and interesting.
Attilas character comes through. Like all the greats he has an Achilles heel. An no more monstrous than a 100o other leaders and no more so than Rome.
How they are locked into a rape and pillage system - as is always the case - and can't see anyth
Hayley Shaver
This is a good book that takes you as close to what and who the real Attila was as possible. He came from at or around Mongolia, sweeping over Hungary and finally conquering into Italy over years. He had a real urge to conquer Rome, which he came close to doing. The book explains why he wanted to, what he did to try to realize his dream, and how he died. It paints Attila as bold, but not always confident. He also is supposed to have been polite to his allies but brutal to his enemies, whoever th ...more
Jason Mashak
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great, engaging way to learn history. John Man writes like a true storyteller, indicating clearly the knowns, unknowns, and his own theories and what they're based on. He mentions where previous historians got things wrong, but he doesn't judge them harshly for it, as he carefully weighs the cultural pressures and knowledge that they were working with at the time. Highly recommended... and I look forward to his books on Genghis and Kublai also.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
The author takes an individual about whom relatively little is known and surrounds him with known, unnecessary minutiae. This wasn't a particularly enjoyable read. If one seeks the Huns, then find a book on the people rather than their leader.
Zeke Chase
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mongol
“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
Hector Ramirez
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Cassy Draker
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: irp-books
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
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classical-times
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
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Josh Lovvorn
Jul 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Robert Fisher
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I noticed this book at every post exchange I visited, so I knew this book contained valuable lessons for military personnel. This book perfectly combines a biography of one of history's most infamous barbarians with the history behind the Fall of Rome, supplemented by the author's own research trips. The book tells a different story of the Hun king, while recounting the previous ones.

Since little written accounts remain of Attila or the Huns, the author delved deep into the anthropology behind t
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Tony Gualtieri
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The name of Attila the Hun still resonates in western culture as "The Scourge of God" and the embodiment of barbaric mayhem. Reliable source material on Attila is scanty. His posthumous reputation was created by Christian hagiographers who magnified his accomplishments with tales of virgins, saints, and martyrs. The reality is that he was an ambitious leader who raided a vast range of territory including Syria, Thrace, the Loire valley, northern Italy, and as far north as the Baltic Sea. He held ...more
Marcus Wilson
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I picked this up from the library as I wanted a biography on Genghis Khan to read, and although this is just that it wasn't exactly what I was after. This is part travelogue aswell as a biography and a lot of that is interspersed into the story, that's fair enough but to be honest I wasn't really interested in it and found it too much. It was quite a relief to finish the book.
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Barnaby Chesterman
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book about a people, the Huns, and the period they lived in with quirky tangents including one man's obsession to resurrect the lost art of horseback archery (which frankly should replace the current horseback and archery disciplines at the Olympics). The one gripe I have, although through no fault of the authors, is that I felt like you get to know many characters around Attila but very little about the main man himself. That's largely because of a lack of sources but even so ...more
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, romans
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
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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
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“Duta Besar, betapa senangnya bertemu dengan Anda! Para pelarian? Upeti? Semuanya dalam kondisi baik. Kita akan berbincang setelah makan malam. Mari kami tunjukkan ruangan Anda. Ya, karpetnya dan sutranya bagus, bukan―ini yang terbaik. Segelas anggur, mungkin? Anda suka gelasnya? Ini semua milik Anda. Oh, dan setelah makan malam, para gadis menari. Anda sudah melakukan perjalanan panjang. Gadis-gadis ini khusus dipilihkan untuk mengembalikan semangat para pejuang besar seperti Anda.” 1 likes
“Pada satu tingkatan, mereka menderita dan akibat wajar yang ditimbulkan–ketabahan, kekuatan, independensi yang kukuh–merupakan sumber kebanggaan; di sisi lain, merupakan sumber rasa iri.” 1 likes
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