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The Day of the Barbarians
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About the Author

Alessandro Barbero is a professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Piemonte Orientale in Vercelli, Italy. A previous winner of the Strega Prize, Italy's most distinguished literary award, he is the author of The Battle: A New History of Waterloo, and Charlemagne: Father of a Continent.

Reviews

Medievalist Barbero (The Battle: A New History of Waterloo) offers a revisionist history of the relatively obscure battle of Adrianople, arguing that the course of world history changed after the clash in 378, in the eastern Roman province of Thrace, between an army of Goths and a Roman imperial army. The battle resulted in an overwhelming barbarian victory-the eastern emperor Valens died along with two-thirds of his army-setting in motion a train of events that led directly to "the fall of the western Roman Empire," according to Barbero. Rejecting the traditional view that Rome's decline was well underway by the fourth century, Barbero claims that by the eve of the battle of Adrianople, the empire's earlier problems "seemed to be... under control." To reconstitute the imperial army after the devastating losses at Adrianople, the Romans had to turn to the Goths, whose loyalty depended on how well they were paid. Eventually, the barbarians-despite their questionable loyalty-became "indispensable" for the defense and administration of the empire. When their interest and Rome's diverged, the western empire's fate was sealed. While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Barbero (medieval studies, Univ. of Piemonte Orientale, Italy; The Battle: A New History of Waterloo) turns back to late Roman times to explore another epoch-making clash, the Battle of Adrianople (in the Roman province of Thrace, now in western Turkey), where in 378 C.E. Gothic warriors crushed the Roman army under Eastern Emperor Valens, successor to Constantine. Lost in the battle and presumably killed, the emperor was never heard from again. The book traces the roots of the battle in the displacement of Gothic tribes by Hunnish tribes from the east. Gothic (barbarian) refugees crossed the eastern Roman border at the Danube with the complicity of Rome, but officials of the empire were entirely unprepared for the scale of immigration. Roman bad faith toward the wandering tribes led to open hostility that culminated in a battle sometimes said to mark the start of the Middle Ages. Though the clash was not yet the end of the Roman Empire, Barbero argues that it hastened its decline as barbarian tribes made increasing inroads into Roman territories, leading to the first sack of Rome itself by Gothic tribesmen in 410 C.E. Barbero offers a fascinating account of the gradual entry of the Gothic warrior into the Mediterranean world, first as mercenary, later as conqueror. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-Stewart Desmond, Ph.D., New York Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Praise for "The Day of the Barbarians"


"Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events...One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account--what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions--is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West."--Steve Coates, "New York Times Book Review
""While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience."--"Publishers Weekly
""Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating."--"Kirkus Reviews"


Praise for "The Day of the Barbarians":


"Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events...One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account--what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions--is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West."--Steve Coates, "New York Times Book Review
""While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience."--"Publishers Weekly
""Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating."--"Kirkus Reviews"


Praise for "The Day of the Barbarians":

"Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events...One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account--what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions--is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West."--Steve Coates, "New York Times Book Review ""While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience."--"Publishers Weekly ""Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating."--"Kirkus Reviews"


Praise for "The Day of the Barbarians":

"Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events...One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account-what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions-is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West."-Steve Coates, "New York Times Book Review ""While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience."-"Publishers Weekly ""Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating."-"Kirkus Reviews"


Praise for "The Day of the Barbarians"

"Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events...One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account--what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions--is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West."--Steve Coates, "New York Times Book Review ""While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience."--"Publishers Weekly ""Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating."--"Kirkus Reviews"


"Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events...One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account--what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions--is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West."--Steve Coates, "New York Times Book Review ""While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience."--"Publishers Weekly ""Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating."--"Kirkus Reviews"


Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account--what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions--is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West. "Steve Coates, New York Times Book Review" While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience. "Publishers Weekly" Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating. "Kirkus Reviews""


"Barbero's narrative skillfully exploits the tensions inherent in these events...One of the many paradoxes in Barbero's elegant and pleasurable little account--what a joy it is to read about the ancient world in digestible portions--is that the Eastern empire learned from its experience and intentionally shifted its barbarians farther and farther toward the West." --Steve Coates, New York Times Book Review"While Barbero's thesis is sure to spark debate among scholars and students, his sprightly prose makes this slim volume accessible to a general audience." --Publishers Weekly"Barbero [excels] in recreating the day of the battle with evocative details and shrewd commentary on troop deployment and tactics. Fascinating." --Kirkus Reviews

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