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Extended Audio Sample Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World, by Colin Wells Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (242 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Colin Wells Narrator: Lloyd James Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A gripping intellectual adventure story, Sailing from Byzantium sweeps you from the deserts of Arabia to the dark forests of northern Russia, from the colorful towns of Renaissance Italy to the final moments of a millennial city under siege. The story of Byzantium is a real-life adventure of electrifying ideas, high drama, colorful characters, and inspiring feats of daring. In Sailing from Byzantium, Colin Wells tells of the missionaries, mystics, philosophers, and artists who, against great odds and often at peril of their own lives, spread Greek ideas to the Italians, the Arabs, and the Slavs. Fast-paced, compulsively readable, and filled with fascinating insights, Sailing from Byzantium is one of the great historical dramas—the gripping story of how the flame of civilization was saved and passed on.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A superb survey of Byzantium’s many cultural bequests…In this deft synthesis of scholarship, classicist Wells shows how the Byzantines exerted a profound influence on all neighboring civilizations.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This history is a needed reminder of the debt that three of our major civilizations owe a debt to Byzantium. Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “In this work of extraordinary learning…readers will find themselves guided on a fascinating journey through a story that has never before been presented in such an accessible and thought-provoking fashion.”

    Thomas R. Martin, Jeremiah O’Connor professor of classics at the College of the Holy Cross

  • A History Book Club Pick

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kristen | 2/19/2014

    " A really great look at the influence of Constantinople on Italian humanists, Muslim science, and Russian orthodoxy. The final third -- that of the influence on the Russian church -- was possibly the least interesting of the three, but still a good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Diane | 1/26/2014

    " This book traces the Byzantine Empire's influence on Western society, Islamic society, and Eastern Orthodox society. It is well written, although clearly intended for a popular, as opposed to a scholarly, audience. I found the sections on the Islamic world and the Eastern Orthodox world particularly interesting, since I'm less familiar with that history than I am with the Western history. However, I was disappointed that Wells didn't make the case that Byzantium continues to influence our world. He seems to think Byzantium's influence disappeared within a few generations, but he never really explains why. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Thomas | 1/23/2014

    " There were many fine facts in this book. Many names. Many dates. The author clearly traces the influence of Byzantine thought and politics upon various figures. I should be much more knowledgeable and in awe of the auther. But I found it very difficult to absorb all of the Nicephoruses and Kantakuzinoses. Reading it as an audiobook probably didn't help. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Maria | 1/16/2014

    " Simply written, not too complex, excellent history for the person who has no previous knowledge of the subject. "

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About the Author

Colin Wells (1933–2010) studied with eminent Byzantinist Speros Vryonis Jr. at UCLA and held an MA from Oxford University in Greats (Greek and Latin language and literature). He wrote numerous articles on world history and culture.