A single event occurs on a single day. However, the event in question usually took years to build to the point of action. History is overflowing with a multitude of such examples. There’s the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, for that matter, it wasn’t destroyed in one either. The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t the result of a single battle, but many variables served to crack the foundation until they became too big to patch. In his 2005 book The Day of the Barbarians, Alessandro Barbero highlights this concept. He has a clear goal in mind and explains what he’s trying to convey before he begins. Rome didn’t fall because of a single battle against a barbarian horde, and the horde didn’t arrive out of the blue ready to charge the gates. Barbero succeeds in his mission and delivers an engaging read.
As I’ve written before, non-fiction books about history can have a tendency to be dry. Barbero avoids this pitfall. The Day of the Barbarians reads like a good History Channel documentary. It’s short and never loses focus. There’s passages inserted at relevant spots from the leading Roman chroniclers of the time. There’s order, and the narrative flows from point to point showing how each small occurrence leads to the next as momentum builds and leads to the Battle of Adrianople in Thrace between the Romans and the barbarians, in this instance the Goths.
I recommend this if you’re into the subjects presented. I was able to read large chunks in a sitting without growing bored or losing interest. Barbero’s crafted a fine book, well-written and informative. There’s no confusion, no jumping around, and most important, nothing in the pages that doesn’t belong. The Day of the Barbarians is specific, narrow in scope, and worth reading.
Copyright © Drew Martin 2017