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The End of Empire


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About the Author

Christopher Kelly, a professor of classics and ancient history and a Fellow and Director of studies in classics at Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge, where he received his PhD in classics. He lives in Cambridge, England, and Chicago, Illinois.


Drawing on the Roman historian Priscus of Panium's History of Attila the Hun, Cambridge University historian Kelly (Ruling the Later Roman Empire) restores the image of Attila as a politically ingenious leader bent more on making strategic alliances to benefit his people than conquering neighboring tribes by savage attacks. With the grace of a good storyteller, Kelly narrates the Huns' origins as nomadic peoples who eventually settled in the Great Hungarian Plain. As they began to consolidate their control over new territories, says Kelly, the Huns recognized the need for a more stable form of government, a greater concentration of military effort focused on a single objective, and the closer coordination of all clans under one leader. In A.D. 434, they found their leader in Attila, and the Huns steadily conquered-by force and by strategic political agreements-various regions of the Roman Empire. They were never able to take Rome, but battling the Huns so weakened Rome's resources that Vandals sacked the city in A.D. 455, effectively ending the Western Roman Empire. Kelly's first-rate history provides a singularly fresh look at a fractious period in the life of ancient Rome. Maps. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Kelly (ancient history, Univ. of Cambridge; The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction) paints an engaging portrait of Attila the Hun's rise to prominence and places the feared warlord in the context of his own time. The title is something of a misnomer, as Kelly writes of Attila's ability to build his own empire as well as his significant part in the destruction of Rome's empire. As the author explains, Attila was aware that it was not in his best interest to hasten the decline of the Roman Empire because much of his control over his own people and lands was paid for with Roman gold that he received through bribes and raids. Kelly's well-written narrative is founded on extensive research, and he provides informative notes as well as suggestions for further reading. Recommended as an excellent addition to libraries with collections in ancient history, Roman history, European history, or classical studies.-Crystal Goldman, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Kelly goes beyond the conventional mode and bravely ventures into...military detail." -- Edward Luttwak - New Republic
"Accessible history that enlightens as well as informs." -- Richmond Times
"[A] first-rate history [that] provides a singularly fresh look at a factitious period in the life of Ancient Rome." -- Publishers Weekly
"Vivid [and] engrossing." -- Booklist

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