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The Fall of Rome

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The fall of the Roman Empire was the denouement of a long and dramatic confrontation between powerful ideological forces and legendary men. R. A. Lafferty captures the true meaning of both, and examines the people, places, ideas and feelings that led to this epic struggle.

Rome's demise was not a simple case of fierce barbarians sacking and subduing a decadent, crumbling ci
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published 1971 by Doubleday & Company (Garden City, NY)
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Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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Printable Tire
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
“The sub-title of this study 'The Day the World Ended' is not meant to be extravagant. It was not the orbis terrarum, the globe, that ended; but the mundus, the ordered world. Mundus, as an adjective, means clean, neat, or elegant. As a noun it may mean the ornamentation, the vesture; but it also means the world. It is like the Greek cosmos which not only means the world and the universe, but likewise means the order, the arrangement, the beauty: for cosmetic, the beautifier, and cosmos, the bea ...more
Jesse Toldness
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Alright, this is, admittedly not the most accurate history of Rome ever written. Even forty-some-odd years ago, it wasn't the most accurate, and we've advanced our understandings a great deal since then. But you want to know the great secret of this book?

It doesn't matter in the slightest.

R.A. Lafferty is, no matter what you think of the stories he tells, one hell of a storyteller. This is a hypnotic, rollicking tale of a city and a man and a people and a world, and by the time you've reached th
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a historical novel of the final years of the Roman Empire -- the fall of the ordered world. To some degree speculative, but trying to be as accurate as possible, and making a few pretty reasonable extrapolations from accepted historical evidence.

Essentially the core argument is that the Goths had become highly Romanized in a lot of ways, and the intrigue at the end wasn't the very simply taught "Rome became weak and was overrun by attackers from outside". The former part is well supporte
Danny Adams
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I suspect a large portion of this book is a novel rather than history - or perhaps, as some have suggested, he treats history the same way the ancient Greek historians did, putting words in the mouth of Pericles but giving those words the same color as what Pericles actually said. Either way, it's an excellent book in that it gives you a good idea of what the late 4th and early 5th centuries in the crumbling Roman Empire were like, and that the so-called "barbarians" did a great deal more to pro ...more
Ivan Stoner
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
RA Lafferty is a brilliant short story writer. Part of what makes him so good is the extraordinary breadth and depth of his reading and personal education. He had a sweet-ass personal library. He apparently spoke a ton of languages. His fiction is super interesting in part because it is a filtering of this huge knowledge base through Lafferty's thoughtful/idiosyncratic/non-modern belief system. Also because it's packaged in Lafferty's distinctive prose style. It's a treat for fiction readers loo ...more
James Prothero
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting. Nice readable voice, but labors minor points out too far and leaves unanswered questions.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lafferty is always so full on and hilarious.
Erik Graff
Mar 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: persons interested in Lafferty or in ancient Rome
Recommended to Erik by: Rick Strong
Shelves: history
R.A. Lafferty is sui generis, a science fiction writer like no other. You love him or you hate him or you, like me, are perplexed by him enough to read his bizarre novels and short stories obsessively while hating every minute of it.

R.A. Lafferty has got some peculiar take on religion. I've never read anything biographical about him, but it appears that this man was a very idiosyncratic, very serious Catholic--a factor that may, in part, explain some of his weird fictions.

This book, however, is
Oliver Brackenbury
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Upon finishing, I let out a breath I'd been holding for ten pages, and gasped "Wow!". Let me tell you, R.A. Lafferty knows how to turn history into a story as compelling as any work of fiction.

2017 Re-Read Update: God damn, this is still a great book. Don't let a relatively dry title about a well-traveled subject throw you. This is a great *story*, an admittedly psedu-fictional history, and one worth reading even if all the names and places were changed to pure fantasy.
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding depiction of the atmosphere and personalities of the key episode in late antiquity. This is not an academic account. There are no footnotes. What you get is a well-paced narrative that delights. I was especially struck by the drawing of Galla Placidia, and the relations between the Goths and the Romans. Great storytelling.
I didn't enjoy reading this book because i found it was poorly organized and contained a lot of information packed into only a few chapters. Therefore each sentence was expressing a new idea making this non-fictitious piece very arduous to read. If were not for school, I would not have read it.
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Raphael Aloysius Lafferty, published under the name R.A. Lafferty, was an American science fiction and fantasy writer known for his original use of language, metaphor, and narrative structure, as well as for his etymological wit. He also wrote a set of four autobiographical novels, a history book, and a number of novels that could be loosely called historical fiction.

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“Olympius, in the name of the Emperor Honorius, ordered the forces in Bologna to take the field against Alaric, on peril of the death of their families. The generals sent word that they could not find the forces of Alaric. The scouts from Bologna silently saluted the Goths of Alaric as they went by, but they could not find them.” 0 likes
“Here we come to a semantic difficulty. Other peoples who were of considerable civilization had been referred to as barbarians for more than a thousand years. Others had been called by the names of the wolves. When the wolves themselves came, there was no other name to give them. The Goths, who were kingdom-founding Christians, had been called barbarians. The Gauls of ancient lineage had been so called, and the talented Vandals.
Even the Huns had been called barbarians. This is a thing beyond all comprehension, and yet it is not safe to contradict the idea even today. The Huns were a race of over-civilized kings traveling with their Courts. In the ordering of military affairs and in overall organization they had no superiors in the world. They were skilled diplomats, filled with urbanity and understanding. All who came into contact with them, Persians, Armenians, Greeks, Romans, were impressed by the Huns' fairness in dealing—considering that they were armed invaders; by their restraint and adaptability; by their judgment of affairs; by their easy luxury. They brought a new elegance to the Empire peoples; and they had assimilated a half dozen cultures, including that of China. But the Huns were not barbarians; no more were any of the other violent visitors to the Empire heretofore.”
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