Goodreads Monday: Alaric the Goth

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme where we randomly select a book from our Goodreads To Be Read list and share it with the world. It’s been hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners, but I’m not sure if that blog is active anymore. Please enjoy this preview of what I want to read in the future!

Alaric the Goth: An Outsider’s History of the Fall of Rome
by Douglas Boin
272 pages
Published June, 2020, by W.W. Norton Company

From Goodreads: Stigmatized and relegated to the margins of Roman society, the Goths were violent “barbarians” who destroyed “civilization,” at least in the conventional story of Rome’s collapse. But a slight shift of perspective brings their history, and ours, shockingly alive.

Alaric grew up near the river border that separated Gothic territory from Roman. He survived a border policy that separated migrant children from their parents, and he was denied benefits he likely expected from military service. Romans were deeply conflicted over who should enjoy the privileges of citizenship. They wanted to buttress their global power, but were insecure about Roman identity; they depended on foreign goods, but scoffed at and denied foreigners their own voices and humanity. In stark contrast to the rising bigotry, intolerance, and zealotry among Romans during Alaric’s lifetime, the Goths, as practicing Christians, valued religious pluralism and tolerance. The marginalized Goths, marked by history as frightening harbingers of destruction and of the Dark Ages, preserved virtues of the ancient world that we take for granted.

The three nights of riots Alaric and the Goths brought to the capital struck fear into the hearts of the powerful, but the riots were not without cause. Combining vivid storytelling and historical analysis, Douglas Boin reveals the Goths’ complex and fascinating legacy in shaping our world.

It’s history, but from a different perspective. We always hear that ‘history is written by the victors’, but the only thing we hear about the victorious Goths is that they destroyed Roman civilization. Which isn’t quite true. Rome had spent a long time slowly self-destructing by the time Alaric came along. He just helped speed up the process.

And anyway. Who doesn’t want to read about Goths?

3 thoughts on “Goodreads Monday: Alaric the Goth

  1. I do sometimes really enjoy these history reads, though I’m finding I’m generally better off with those geared towards a more general audience. I’m currently reading one on Thebes and it reads much more like a textbook so I’m finding it difficult to get into. I’ll be curious to read your thoughts on this one if you read it.

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