PDF Byzantium (3 Volumes)
I was looking forward to this a lot as I enjoyed A History of VeniceVenice, the author's one volume history of - take a guess - Venice. My one complaint about that book was that it felt a little dense. By covering Byzantium in a three volume set, the material is allowed to breathe, and the result is a intensely readable. These are big hefty books, and I couldn't put them book down, even when the various claimants to the Imperial throne were blinding each other or cutting each other's tongues out. The writing, like "Venice", is excellent, and always clear and easy to follow, even when the author can't help but wade into the obscure ecumenical fights the Byzantines loved getting into. This is Byzantium for beginners, so you don't need to know much to enjoy this book, although a basic knowledge of the founding of Islam and the transformitive effect it had on the region may put some of the events in a more meaningful context for you. All that being said, if you have even a slight interest at all in this area and you're not already an expert on Byzantine history, you really can't go wrong - and even if you do already have knowledge of the material, this book is so well written I'd bet you'll enjoy going over it again with the author anyway.
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