Matt's Reviews > Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe

Empires and Barbarians by Peter Heather
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M 50x66
's review
Dec 05, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: history-ancient, history-medieval, barbarians

First, I really like Heather. He has ridiculous command of the material and is able to explain things clearly without dumbing them down. He is also able to construct a narrative even when relying on mostly or purely archaeological evidence without going into detail of which pot was found it which grave (see previous reviews for rants about archaeologists who have trouble with this).
This is a history of the various migrations that took place in the 1st millennium, focused primarily on the Germanic and Slavic migrations, with a chapter or so devoted to the Vikings. Heather uses the available literature and archaeology 1) to establish that there were migrations and 2) to put them in context within current comparative migration theory.
I really liked the book, but will admit it is a bit dense. It is somewhat weighed down because there is an emphasis on marshaling the evidence to support Heather (apparently there is quite the debate about the existence and nature of 1st century migrations) and the narrative can get a bit lost at times because of this.

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