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Rome's Gothic Wars: From the Third Century to Alaric

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  76 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Late in August 410, Rome was starving, its residents were turning on one another, and, to make matters worse, the Gothic army camped at Rome's gates was restless. The Gothic commander was Alaric, a Roman general and barbarian chieftain. Leading an army that was short of food and potentially mutinous, sacking Rome was his only way forward. The old heart of Rome's empire fel ...more
Hardcover, 225 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Cambridge University Press (first published September 30th 2006)
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Sep 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
After acknowledging “the historian has a duty to make history intelligible” (p. xi), Professor Kulikowski proceeds to obscure the already obscure subject of Romano-Gothic relations. Rather than “help those who are just beginning the advanced study of late antiquity,” he abandons serious scholarship and builds a house of cards which admits little scrutiny.

Professor Kulikowski starts with the humble-sounding premise that “even the most basic facts are either unknown or else uncertain because of co
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history enthusiasts
I was recently asked by Cambridge University Press to review "Rome's Gothic Wars: From the Third Century to Alaric (Key Conflicts of Classical Antiquity) by Michael Kulikowski. I finally got a chance to begin reading it and find it clearly written and thankfully devoid of the stilted academic jargon that pervades many history texts. As most of my studies have focused on the Roman Republic, I am learning all kinds of fascinating things about this later period.

For example, I did not realize that t
Sep 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Reads like a jumbled together dissertation. It has some nice promise about tackling the tricky historiography of the "Goths," spending an entire prologue and chapter to this effort. It doesn't continue through the book, other than to throw occasional notes bashing the reliability of the primary (or in most cases, the oldest surviving secondary) sources. It reads unevenly and never really sets down on a particular narrative, or even a method of presenting the history. The people and places involv ...more
Rob Roy
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 24-ancient-rome
This book is excellent, but only for the hard core history buff. The casual reader, need not apply. The author not only reviews Gothic history, but delves into the value of the various sources, and how they have been interpreted and reinterpreted over the centuries.
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although this book is about the Goths from the third century to Alaric's sack as the title suggests, it is really about much more than that. A great deal of space is devoted to the historiography of the study of the Goths and historical methodology. For this, Kulikowski needs a serious commendation. Far too many books on ancient history, and especially introductory-level works ignore just how we do the history and prefer to skip over the debates in the field, making such things appear to be sett ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
I found this to be a very frustrating read. It seemed more like a series of lecture notes that would be expanded upon in class, and therefore made to feel more continuous than the long run of names, dates, and places that ended up thoroughly jumbled together in my mind. The author repeatedly alluded to future and past dates without referencing the importance of those dates except in the initial instance. This is not my area of expertise. I needed a simpler and more repetitive approach to what ac ...more
An uneven survey of the relations and conflicts between the later Roman Empire and the Goths. Kulikowski's book is surprisingly opinionated for a survey aimed at a general audience. Much of what he says is interesting--the discussion of Gothic origins in chapter 3 definitely gives one a sense of both the lay of the current scholarly land and Kulikowski's own very definite views--but one wonders if the amount of space devoted to this and other debates is necessary, particularly given the book's b ...more
Aug 26, 2011 rated it liked it
A historical work on the Gothic Wars around the 3rd Century. It is a very technical and scholarly work. I found it a difficult read but I can't say I didn't learn from the book. The sacking of Rome by Alaric is moving.
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author spends so much time arguing on why certain information may or may not be correct, which detracts from the narrative. Otherwise, the tragedy is well told.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Great historiographical approach to the Goths that I feel many authors tend to take at face value.
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Michael Kulikowski is Professor of History and Classics and Head of the Department of History at Pennsylvania State University.
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