10 books like The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

By Edward Gibbon,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Brief History of the Romans

By Noel Lenski, Richard J.A. Talbert, Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola

Book cover of A Brief History of the Romans

This is probably the best recent one-volume history of Rome, which covers the entire scope of the Roman world from its beginnings to its collapse. It is nicely illustrated, and gives a solid summary of the Roman environment that is easily understood by non-specialists. It is an exciting story: from a village on the Tiber River to ruling the world, an unexpected process that is well laid out.

A Brief History of the Romans

By Noel Lenski, Richard J.A. Talbert, Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Brief History of the Romans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did a single village community in the Italian peninsula eventually become one of the most powerful imperial powers the world has ever known? In A Brief History of the Romans, Second Edition, Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola, Richard J.A. Talbert, and new coauthor Noel Lenski explore this question as they guide students through a comprehensive sweep of Roman history, ranging from the prehistoric settlements to the fall of the empire in 476.
Addressing issues that still confront modern states worldwide--including warfare, empire building, consensus forging, and political fragmentation--the authors also provide glimpses into everyday
Roman life and perspective,…


From the Gracchi to Nero

By H.H. Scullard,

Book cover of From the Gracchi to Nero

This is a focused survey of the most fascinating period in Rome's history, when the ancient Republic evolved into an empire: the era of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and the emperors Augustus, Nero, and others. During this period Rome's expansion meant major internal changes and a century of instability, and I know of no better book that explains why and how this happened.

From the Gracchi to Nero

By H.H. Scullard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Gracchi to Nero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Gracchi to Nero is an outstanding history of the Roman world from 133 BC to 68 AD. Fifty years since publication it is widely hailed as the classic survey of the period, going through many revised and updated editions until H.H. Scullard's death. It explores the decline and fall of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Pax Romana under the early Principate. In superbly clear style, Scullard brings vividly to life the Gracchi's attempts at reform, the rise and fall of Marius and Sulla, Pompey and Caesar, society and culture in the late Roman Republic, the…


The Art of Rome

By Bernard Andreae,

Book cover of The Art of Rome

This is a lavishly illustrated work showing the major pieces of Roman art, an important component of their ideology and self image. It explains how the Romans built on the Greek tradition of art and architecture and created their own artistic world, much of which is still with us today.

The Art of Rome

By Bernard Andreae,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Text: English, German (translation)


I, Claudius

By Robert Graves,

Book cover of I, Claudius

This is the masterclass in the portrayal of the first hundred years or so of the Roman Empire. Graves was a considerable scholar in his own right, providing the translation for the Penguin edition of Suetonius’ “Twelve Caesars”. He was also a poet and novelist, and his picture of the naïve Claudius making his unwitting way to power is probably on most people’s list of all-time great historical novels. What I particularly found striking was just how much work went into running the Roman empire, and one almost has sympathy for Augustus as he tries to mould Roman rule into something that is efficient and fair. The BBC adaptation, in my opinion, did a good job: Sian Phillips as Livia is a complete joy.

I, Claudius

By Robert Graves,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked I, Claudius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A work of historical fiction which recreates the life and times of Emperor Claudius, who lived from 10 BC to AD 41, a time when poisoning, blasphemy, treachery, incest and unnatural vice were commonplace. From the author of CLAUDIUS THE GOD AND HIS WIFE MESSALINA.


Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

By Lesley Adkins, Roy Adkins,

Book cover of Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

Although not a history of Rome, per se, in this topically-arranged book, it covers a vast amount of Roman history. This is an outstanding book into the details of Rome’s religion, geography, administration, travel, and economy. It gives deep insight into what it was like to be a Roman citizen, whether one was a pleb or a member of the aristocracy. It presents the government of Rome, from the consuls and emperors down to the level of magistrates and civil servants. Many aspects of the history and structure of Rome’s military are covered in detail, and the book shows how it transformed and adapted over the years of the republic and empire. For any questions on Roman society, this book likely covers it.

Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

By Lesley Adkins, Roy Adkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This handy reference provides full access to the 1,200 years of Roman rule from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD, including information that is hard to find and even harder to decipher. Clear, authoritative, and highly organized, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome provides a unique look at a civilization whose art, literature, law, and engineering influenced the whole of Western Europe throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and beyond.
The myriad topics covered include rulers; the legal and governmental system; architectural feats such as the famous Roman roads and aqueducts; the many Roman religions and festivals;…


Failure of Empire

By Noel Lenski,

Book cover of Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D.

Dr. Lenski, an accomplished Late Antiquity scholar, provides a comprehensive biography of the emperor Valens and his troubled reign (A.D. 365-378). He surveys his political, military, economic, and religious policies in the eastern Roman world racked by religious divisions and barbarian invasions. Thorough and carefully argued.

Failure of Empire

By Noel Lenski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Failure of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Failure of Empire is the first comprehensive biography of the Roman emperor Valens and his troubled reign (A.D. 364-78). Valens will always be remembered for his spectacular defeat and death at the hands of the Goths in the Battle of Adrianople. This singular misfortune won him a front-row seat among history's great losers. By the time he was killed, his empire had been coming unglued for several years: the Goths had overrun the Balkans; Persians, Isaurians, and Saracens were threatening the east; the economy was in disarray; and pagans and Christians alike had been exiled, tortured, and executed in his…


Byzantium

By Cyril Mango,

Book cover of Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome

The best survey of Byzantine civilization by the best Byzantinist of recent times, this book covers all the main features of Byzantine life, thought, and culture with profound but unobtrusive learning, including many interesting details and covering ethnography, religion, literature, art, and architecture.

Mango’s penetrating analysis often reveals defects of the Byzantines and their empire that other scholars usually overlook, and his overall evaluation of Byzantium is more negative than my own, but his writing is lucid, brilliant, and always worth reading. I particularly recommend this book as an introduction for readers who know little if anything about the Byzantines and their empire.

Byzantium

By Cyril Mango,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Byzantium as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Examining Byzantine life from the point of view of the average citizen, a noted historian deals with language, social and economic conditions, the disappearance and revival of cities, education, monasticism, and the Byzantine literary, artistic, and architectural legacy


Theodosian Empresses

By Kenneth G. Holum,

Book cover of Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity

Who knew that women were such powerful figures during the transition from the Roman Empire to the Byzantine era? Hollum did. He chronicles the lives and contributions of three generations of Theodosian empresses. This book was the major source of information on the main characters in the second and third books in my Theodosian Women series.

Read about the remarkable Empress Pulcheria. Granddaughter of Theodosian the Great, she outwitted a whole court of experienced men to become Augusta and Regent for her minor brother at the age of fifteen! She ruled by his side for most of his life and laid the foundations for the dawn of the Byzantine Empire. What had you accomplished by age fifteen?

Theodosian Empresses

By Kenneth G. Holum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Theodosian Empresses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Theodosian Empresses sets a series of compelling women on the stage of history and offers new insights into the eastern court in the fifth century.


The Science of Roman History

By Walter Scheidel (editor),

Book cover of The Science of Roman History: Biology, Climate, and the Future of the Past

Already when I was writing the first edition of Rome. An Empire’s Story it was clear that the subject was being transformed by scientific discoveries. Over the last decade, science-led projects have changed our notions of ancient Roman nutrition and health, of Romans’ impact on the environment, on the animals and plants they farmed, and also of their own vulnerability to plague and climate change. Scheidel, who is a world leader in this field, has gathered together historians using everything from human DNA and skeletal material to the remains of ancient seeds and animals to explain how the life sciences can unlock whole new areas of ancient history. This is a fast-moving field, and this short book gives a crash course on what has been done to date, and what might come next.

The Science of Roman History

By Walter Scheidel (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Science of Roman History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How the latest cutting-edge science offers a fuller picture of life in Rome and antiquity

This groundbreaking book provides the first comprehensive look at how the latest advances in the sciences are transforming our understanding of ancient Roman history. Walter Scheidel brings together leading historians, anthropologists, and geneticists at the cutting edge of their fields, who explore novel types of evidence that enable us to reconstruct the realities of life in the Roman world.

Contributors discuss climate change and its impact on Roman history, and then cover botanical and animal remains, which cast new light on agricultural and dietary practices.…


Fourteen Byzantine Rulers

By Michael Psellus, E.R.A. Sewter (translator),

Book cover of Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus

I love this book because it is the personal memoirs of a Byzantine statesman, Michael Psellus (c.1022-c.1080), who lived through the dramatic reversal of fortune of the mid-eleventh century. He tells the story through the lives of the emperors and empresses who ruled during his lifetime. To appreciate Psellus’ work, it is better to skip the first two biographies which are largely based on hearsay, and to start with the account of Romanos III (1028-1034). As the author himself says ‘I both saw Romanos and on one occasion actually talked to him.’

As Psellus rose through the ranks of the palace bureaucracy, he became the secretary and close adviser to one emperor after another. He describes events as he himself witnessed them, recording conversations and anecdotes, often illuminating the personal qualities and failings of the imperial incumbents. The work tails off at the end as Psellus reaches the time of…

Fourteen Byzantine Rulers

By Michael Psellus, E.R.A. Sewter (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fourteen Byzantine Rulers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This chronicle of the Byzantine Empire, beginning in 1025, shows a profound understanding of the power politics that characterized the empire and led to its decline.


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