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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 1

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  880 ratings  ·  82 reviews
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.
Kindle Edition, 520 pages
Published December 24th 2015 by Palatine Press (first published 1776)
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Caroline
You hear people refer to Gibbon's magisterial style for a reason--it is. The sentences just roll on and on. He had read everything about the period and for the most part selects and organizes the material very well (by which I mean that the history flows and makes sense; I don't know enough to know whether he selected a balanced and coherent subset of facts and events). But this isn't an endless recitation of facts. Gibbon assesses the people and explains their actions; he shares his reflections ...more
Alyssa
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished Volume I, and II is up next. I would recommend against getting the version edited by H.H. Milman if at all possible, unless you like books that are edited by someone who thinks it's okay to mutilate someone else's work by adding a LOT more Christian nonsense to it. He even criticizes the author for attempting to be reasonably objective. This is NOT okay, and it is detrimental to a book that is rightly considered to be a masterpiece of historical writing. Do yourself a favor ...more
David Huff
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
Tackling this massive classic has been on my bucket list for some time, and after finishing Volume One, the first of Six (I know, I can hardly believe it either) volumes, here are some summary thoughts so far:

1. Took me a while to decide whether to read it, or listen on Audible. I've listened to quite a few books on Audible, so my comfort level (plus all the spare moments I can find in traffic or longer drives to listen) gave me the courage to go that route. I'm loving the Naxos AudioBooks
...more
Alan
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read Gibbon over thirty years ago, and made it through the three Modern Library volumes. Over the years I have reread the first volume, and his conclusions, a half dozen times, and his notorious Ch 15 on Judaism and Christianity maybe two dozen. I read it as contemporary news; for instance,
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, leaving office, recently pardoned over 200 prisoners, including several convicted of murder. Doubtless Barbour's Christianity played into his pardoning, possibly of
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gluttons for Punishment?
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Good Reading; 100 Significant Books
I feel decidedly ambivalent about this book. My rating reflects that ultimately I didn't want to stick with it; I didn't find its pleasures and degree of informativeness worth the slogging through. This is the slowest read I've ever encountered--slower reading than James Joyce's Ulysses. And yet it's not that the prose was difficult or rambling or the subject boring. In fact I found the prose rather elegant. Partly, it's that I felt as if it was going on forever. This is only the first volume of ...more
LDM
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Another damn'd thick, square book! Always, scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?"

Incomplete or inaccurate in places, of course. Nor can his grand thesis, such as it is, sustain on a single pillar the edifice of the Why for the decline and fall of Rome. But these supposed sins can be forgiven, Gibbon having been largely reliant on textual documentary evidence - fragmentary, suspicious, fraught - to construct his [largely political and religious] History, and it takes a particularly heavy
...more
Silvana
I have been reading this for the last five months and I feel exhausted. Definitely not for people who prefer light reading. The explanation is sometimes frivolous and redundant. The footnotes are not really helpful; they just confused me even more.

The first chapters are the best. The last ones...well, not so much except the parts on Diocletian. Nevertheless, I'd still recommend this as a reference for those who are interested in Roman Empire history. So many interesting tidbits and background
...more
Stephen
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most readers, including myself, are discouraged from ever attempting to read Decline and Fall because of its length. I can confirm, having reached the end of the first volume, that our fears of boredom or exhaustion are exaggerated. In truth, Gibbon needs an editor, not an abridgement. A small number of dull and superfluous passages, often dealing with trifles remote from our own concerns (such as the internecine squabbles over Trinitarianism, or the unspectacular lives of quickly-forgotten ...more
Louis Shalako
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. I've read it ten times, and it's an eight volume set. Gibbon has his idiosyncrasies. He will use the same phrase, for example, 'it would not offer much instruction to the reader nor amusement to the writer,' and several others more than once, but it is a big book.

Critics have noted that Gibbon squashes a vast sweep of history into the last two or three volumes, but my personal favourite is volume three. As I recall, this one traces the emperors, and Julian, in particular. He's the one
...more
Brian Eshleman
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The particulars of a given place and time are incidental to why this work and its author have had a lasting impact. At least for me, curiosity about Rome subsided as I was more and more drawn in to the spell of the author. This was Edward Gibbon's space within which to expound on the sweeping currents of history and the trickling eddies of individual flawed lives that feed into them. How does the discipline of a common goal strengthen individual men and the broader culture? How does the irony of ...more
ElSeven
Apr 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where to begin? How do you even rate a legendary text like this, after two hundred years of existence, carrying two hundred years of cultural baggage along with it.

It's Gibbon. He doesn't need me, because he's like Tacitus or Herodotus, or any of those other historians that you refer to by only one name. Men who wrote monumental tomes that everyone familiar with them acknowledges as masterpieces, but nobody has ever seems to want to read.

Still, I feel bad to own a book that I've not read, and
...more
Matt
The first volume of Modern Librarys three-volume reprint of Edward Gibbons The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire covers the first 26 chapters of the authors epic historical work. Beginning with the death of Domitian and ending with Theodosius Is treaty with the Goths and early reign, Gibbons spans nearly 300 years of political, social, and religious history on how the great empire of antiquity slowly began to fade from the its greatest heights.

The history of the decline of Rome actually
...more
Dan Graser
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This really is a gorgeous edition of Gibbon's classic Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol 1 is his most scandalous of texts - mainly due to the final two chapters - but ignoring the centuries old "controversy" of daring to chart the history of early Christianity in Rome, this is still THE seminal work of historical writing in the English language and fully codified the ridiculous relationship of the later emperors of Rome with the Senate, the various factions of the army and legions, the ...more
Individualfrog
I have this book in a Victorian copy inherited from my great-grandfather, one of the only books left from such a long time ago, mostly Dutch Bibles. I've thought about reading it since I was in high school--this looming, solid, six-volume set of reddish-brown books, the spine reading only "GIBBON'S ROME". Finally this spring I finished The Dispossessed, which I really hated (many of you may wish to discount the following review on that basis) and I was feeling disgruntled, because I had thought ...more
Russell
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I snagged the free version from Amazon for my Kindle. The page count said it was 350 pages, I thought that would be a quick read. Hooboy, that count was an utter lie! Amazon reports that a paperback edition from Penguin Classics weighs in at 1232 pages, this isn't a light, quick read on the beach.

Gibbon's set the bar for modern historians by investing so much research into the subject. The first volume was published in 1776, and though we've added much to our knowledge of the past through
...more
Alex
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The book is surprisingly readable given that the book was written some 250 years ago. The material is very abundant and descriptions of persons and events quite detailed. There are many insightful comments.

On the other hand, the assessment of the Roman Emperors characters are bipolar (good or bad) and thus somewhat simplistic. The philosophizing passages seem excessive. Also I wish, perhaps after being spoiled by Will Durant's Story of Civilization, that there were some decent coverage beyond
...more
John
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took a class at Penn by the same name where the goal was to read all the volumes in one semester. I made it through this volume but didn't get to the end of the others!! Wrote a couple of papers - one on Byzantine iconoclasts and one on an ancient Roman church starting with Santa Maria.
chaz2b
Jun 11, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
- 061111 All six volumes at Project Gutenberg http://bit.ly/jXIv1j
Steve
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished Volume 1. Truly a classic of history and literature...and there are are still hundreds of years and hundreds of pages to go in Volumes 2 & 3.
Fredrick Danysh
Part of the multi-volume work than analyizes the growth and decline of the Roman Empire. It can serve as a model for what is happening in America today and has happened to other empires.
Logan
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[Incomplete]

Gibbon's (1737-1794) magnum opus is regarded as one of the finest works of non-fiction in English. I wish I had read this in elementary school rather than that ridiculous, overly-illustrated, politically correct Houghton Mifflin stuff. Sure, as a Christian, you have to realize that he is known as the "English giant of the Enlightenment" and take his peevish skepticism accordingly. For the most part, though, he maintains objectivity, and his writing has spunk. If you're used to the
...more
Toviel
Three star read, but I dropped a star because this free Kindle version does not include the footnotes. Since the footnotes are some of the most important parts of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, I'm very disappointed. I'll be looking into finding another edition of Vol. 1 to review before I read the rest of the work.

Otherwise, I wanted to like Fall and Decline far more than I actually did. While Gibbon is a fantastic writer, and I certainly found myself swept away by his personifications of the
...more
Scot León Pfuntner
The author confuses the infiltration of mystery Babylon into the early church for the actual body of Christ. God has always preserved a remnant of his people for Himself, and I don't believe that true believers were part of the deformed, malnourished impostor of His church that became the hybrid state-sponsored Roman Catholic empire. I do agree with him that the spread of Christianity destroyed the foundations of the Pagan Roman Empire, but only in as much that it contributed to expose the ...more
Stifynsemons
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I imagined, when contemplating the fall of the Roman Empire a sequence of repetitious vignettes demarcated only by name and dates and approached this volume with great trepidation. I'm happy to report that ignorance is not bliss and Gibbon brings alive not just the lives of the emperors but the many forms of human error that they demonstrated upon acquiring the corruption of the purple and the nature of the society in which they lived. Nonetheless a great deal of detail remains and I suspect I ...more
Jeff
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Details

This isn't the sort of thing I would typically read, yet I wanted to read it because I felt that anyone who considers themselves a history buff as I do should read it. This really is one of those classic books worth a read I would gather that the other books are of similar quality
Katie Anderson
I think I need the history told with less names and places in each sentence. It was a bit overwhelming just with the first volume. Hard to grasp, for me anyway. Maybe a good historical fiction would be better for me.
Geoff Wooldridge
Detailed, informative but dull
Richard Bell
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this many years ago. Twice.
José Monico
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Ah, the Roman sovereignty-- one of the most dramatic, and theatrically exposed civilizations to ever arise. For good reason of course: their influence on the contemporary western world only rivals that of the aesthetic Greeks. As far as the former is concerned, the Roman ambition and passion is completely unhinged in Mr. Gibbons first volume of this fantastical work.

It took me a few chapters to get accustomed to E.G.'s whimsical prose. Usually, I take my Roman history in dry and successive
...more
Billy Sheppard
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gibbon writes great sentences. He also recognizes great writing and quotes it as in the following from Tacitus quoted verbatim in Volume 1 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire regarding the seldom-described and generally forgotten Lygian army:

"Their shields are black, their bodies are painted black. They choose for the combat the darkest hour of the night. Their host advances, covered as it were with a funeral shade; nor do they often find an enemy capable of sustaining so strange and
...more
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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
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