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Old 09-10-2009, 10:44 AM   #1
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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

I'd be grateful for some comments and opinions on "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire".

How readable/enjoyable is it?

How large is it in reasonably good (not tiny font-size) paper editions that people have read?

How good is the Project Gutenberg edition?

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Old 09-10-2009, 11:31 AM   #2
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If you're looking for a good factual history book, then you're looking in the wrong place. Gibbon is a good writer and enjoyable to read but he is very opinionated and he lacked a lot of the sources modern historians have access to. He's very much an 'early' historian. I've only read the first two volumes so I can't really comment on the overall quality of the work.

I have the 8-volume Folio Society edition which should be quite cheap on eBay as they used to give them out for free to new members who ordered 4 books. The font size is of normal size for a folio but I imagine a paperback version will be either abridged or in multiple volumes and in both cases have very small print indeed.

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Old 09-10-2009, 11:37 AM   #3
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If you're looking for a good factual history book, then you're looking in the wrong place. Gibbon is a good writer and enjoyable to read but he is very opinionated and he lacked a lot of the sources modern historians have access to. He's very much an 'early' historian. I've only read the first two volumes so I can't really comment on the overall quality of the work.

I have the 8-volume Folio Society edition which should be quite cheap on eBay as they used to give them out for free to new members who ordered 4 books.
Really?

I thought I read somewhere that he was the first historian to actually go back to original sources, and that as a result his work is the next best thing (to original sources--in contrast with earlier histories where people are reporting on people reporting what other people reported that yet other people said/did/saw).

Having said that, his opinionatedness does not surprise me... but is it really so bad as to negate the (supposed) value of the underlying research?

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Old 09-10-2009, 11:42 AM   #4
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Sure, go ahead and read it. Every history book will have a bias. In college, I read of lot of Cicero, etc., in Latin, and even with those it was obvious that they had agendas. So start reading it, and if you enjoy it, read the whole thing.
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:43 AM   #5
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Sure, go ahead and read it. Every history book will have a bias. In college, I read of lot of Cicero, etc., in Latin, and even with those it was obvious that they had agendas. So start reading it, and if you enjoy it, read the whole thing.
Were any of them pro-Barbarian?
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:47 AM   #6
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Really?

I thought I read somewhere that he was the first historian to actually go back to original sources, and that as a result his work is the next best thing (to original sources--in contrast with earlier histories where people are reporting on people reporting what other people reported that yet other people said/did/saw).

Having said that, his opinionatedness does not surprise me... but is it really so bad as to negate the (supposed) value of the underlying research?

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Actually, if I can remember well the whole "historians <3 sources" love story (pardon me) began during reformation era, when it was perceived as essential that official history of the Church roots as perceived by Protestants or Catholics was had sound foundation in documentaries sources (cames to mind Flacius and his Centuriators vs Cardinal Baronius; but also, a bit downstream, the Bollandists with their Acta Sanctorum).

This said, I'd be interested in a good unabridged edition of Gibbon too.
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:49 AM   #7
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Actually, if I can remember well the whole "historians <3 sources" love story (pardon me) began during reformation era, when it was perceived as essential that official history of the Church roots as perceived by Protestants or Catholics was had sound foundation in documentaries sources (cames to mind Flacius and his Centuriators vs Cardinal Baronius; but also, a bit downstream, the Bollandists with their Acta Sanctorum).

This said, I'd be interested in a good unabridged edition of Gibbon too.
Thanks. ;-)

Now the question is:

Is the PG considered a good unabridged edition?

Are the annotations (in the PG edition) likewise considered good quality?

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Old 09-10-2009, 11:50 AM   #8
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Were any of them pro-Barbarian?
Tacitus' Germania has a lot of respect for Barbarians. The same for the Agricola, but there he's more interested into praising his father-in-law's operate (Iulius Agricola's, that's it) in Britannia.
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:59 AM   #9
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Actually... anybody knows what (other than the differing number of volumes) would be the main difference between the Project Gutenberg version and the Online Library of Liberty one?

Would it be worthwhile to try to merge the two?

Although...

Quote:
Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

Fair use statement:

This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
What the hell?!

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Old 09-10-2009, 12:12 PM   #10
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Only modern historians are shining beacons of evenhanded revelation, truth and fairness with no political agenda. Historians who publish critiques and evaluatory works who just say "damn, that's well written and researched" aren't very likely to get published which equals money + tenure.



It's well written, try it and see what you think. No idea on the ebook'd version.

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Old 09-10-2009, 12:14 PM   #11
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[not to be used for profit statement on public domain ebook]

What the hell?!
Someone's trying to pull a fast one. Public domain is public domain. It is no longer covered by copyright. You can do whatever you like with it, including selling it for profit.

I have seen it argued that if you agree to a 'licence' when viewing or downloading public domain books you might be restricted by the terms of that licence. I don't agree with this argument at all, but I don't think it's ever been decided in court.
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Old 09-10-2009, 12:17 PM   #12
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Someone's trying to pull a fast one. Public domain is public domain. It is no longer covered by copyright. You can do whatever you like with it, including selling it for profit.

I have seen it argued that if you agree to a 'licence' when viewing or downloading public domain books you might be restricted by the terms of that licence. I don't agree with this argument at all, but I don't think it's ever been decided in court.
Thankfully there's no downloading nor agreeing (unless their assumption that viewing their HTML pages constitutes a binding agreement to whatever the hell they want, were to be upheld in a court of law)...

I'd really like to one day see people fired and careers ruined over these sort of blatant attempts at subverting the public domain.

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Old 09-10-2009, 12:30 PM   #13
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Only modern historians are shining beacons of evenhanded revelation, truth and fairness with no political agenda. Historians who publish critiques and evaluatory works who just say "damn, that's well written and researched" aren't very likely to published which equals money + tenure.

Sad truth, but still the truth.
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Old 09-10-2009, 12:33 PM   #14
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If I'm not confused by migraine and paper working, I remember a thread in the e-book section of this forum on the theme "can I correct PG's versions", and I recall something like a yes but in that case it's not to have the notice at the beginning, i.e. not branded as PG's work.
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Old 09-10-2009, 12:40 PM   #15
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If I'm not confused by migraine and paper working, I remember a thread in the e-book section of this forum on the theme "can I correct PG's versions", and I recall something like a yes but in that case it's not to have the notice at the beginning, i.e. not branded as PG's work.
Yep. I remember too.

And since I've no inclination to even potentially risk any conflict with spineless public domain plundering monkeys. I'll definitely be sticking solely with the Project Gutenberg edition when I start working on getting Gibbon's masterpiece into shape.

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