Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Byzantine Empire: A History Book

For this upcoming edition of the Carnival of the Central and Eastern European Genealogy, I am supposed to read a history book that deals with an aspect of the history of Central or Eastern Europe.

I have not yet finished the book I am reading, but I thought I would write a brief summary of what I have read. (Actually, I have been reading this book off and on for the past several years.) The book I chose was History of the Byzantine State, 3rd edition by George Ostrogorsky (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1999).

As you can tell from the title, the book is a history on the Byzantine Empire. (When I was in high school, I wanted to learn more about the history of that empire, so my grandparents bought this book for me as a Christmas gift.) The book spans the whole time period of the Empire, from the early Fourth Century to its collapse in 1453, but unfortunately, the book is probably not the best book to read if you just want to briefly read about the empire. It is a scholarly book and apparently was not intended for the general reading public. Thus, I have spent the last several years reading this book off and on because it is very dry and technical. Of course, after I went to college, the book got easier to read, but it is still a slow read.

Would I recommend this book? If you want a quick read on the Byzantine Empire, this is not the book for you. In fact, I would not recommend this book to the general reader, although I have learned more about the Byzantine Empire by reading this book.

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