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Extended Audio Sample The Ruin of the Roman Empire: A New History, by James J. O’Donnell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.21 out of 53.21 out of 53.21 out of 53.21 out of 53.21 out of 5 3.21 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James J. O’Donnell Narrator: Mel Foste Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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What really marked the end of the Roman Empire? Was it a long, inevitable decay, or did real people make real choices with surprising and unintended effects? The Ruin of the Roman Empire takes us back to the sixth century, into the lives, cultures, and events that influenced ancient Rome. James O’Donnell restores the reputations of many “barbarians,” while showing that Rome’s last emperors doomed their realm with the hapless ways in which they tried to restore and preserve it. 

Sweeping and accessible, The Ruin of the Roman Empire captures the richness of late antique life and the colorful characters of the age while offering insight into today’s debates about barbarism, religion, empires, and their threatened borders.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “O’Donnell’s vivid prose…[makes] it easy for readers to imagine the world as it was at the empire’s close.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “O’Donnell’s richly layered book provides significant glimpses into the many factors that leveled a mighty empire.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “O’Donnell provides a sweeping panorama that includes diverse Christian sects, surprisingly civilized barbarians, and ordinary humans striving to survive in an unstable world.”


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About the Author

James O’Donnell is a distinguished classicist who has published widely on the history and culture of late antiquity, and the author of Augustine. He was a professor of classics at the University of Pennsylvania for many years, and he has been Provost of Georgetown University since 2002. He is a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America and a past president of the American Philological Association. A native of the border region of New Mexico, he graduated from Princeton University and received his PhD from Yale University.

About the Narrator

Mel Foster is a prolific audiobook narrator, having read dozens of titles throughout his career. He is the recipient of the prestigious Audie Award, as well as the AudioFile Earphones Award. A former advertising agency executive who used to record test tracks for commercials, his narration career was born out of encouragement from his clients who would often say, “why are we hiring someone else? I like this guy.”