Harry R. Schwartz

Software engineer, nominal scientist, gentleman of the internet.
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12 Byzantine Rulers

12 Byzantine Rulers

Published .
Tags: books, history.


If you think listening to a 7-hour series of podcasts about Byzantine history sounds like a great idea, (1) we should probably be friends and (2) you’ll almost certainly enjoy Lars Brownworth’s 12 Byzantine Rulers.

It’s surprisingly fascinating stuff. The Byzantines are strangely easy to overlook, but they spent a millennium debating theology, appreciating Aeschylus, engaged in atrocious internecine conflict, maintaining a Mediterranean-wide economy, and almost single-handedly holding back the tide of Arab conquest while the rest of Europe was struggling to retain literacy. Makes for good listening.

On a related note, I’m really enjoying Chris Wickham’s The Inheritance of Rome, which covers a similar time period but concentrates on the former Western empire’s perspective. It’s also a bit more concerned with the details of slower-moving social and economic trends than with individual derry-do, which Brownworth’s podcasts very entertainingly emphasize.

Infinite Jest had me hoping for a discussion of Byzantine erotica, but no such luck.

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