Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome

John Man. Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged RomeJohn Man.
Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome.

A stunning biography of history’s most infamous warlord, Attila the Hun.

For a crucial twenty years in the early fifth century, Attila held the fate of the Roman Empire and the future of all Europe in his hands. He created the greatest of barbarian forces, and his empire briefly rivaled Rome’s. In numerous raids and three major campaigns against the Roman Empire, he earned himself an instant and undying reputation for savagery. But there was more to him than mere barbarism. Attila was capricious, arrogant, brutal, and brilliant enough to win the loyalty of millions. In the end, his ambitions ran away with him. He did not live long enough to found a lasting empire—but long enough to jolt Rome toward its final fall.

In this riveting biography, masterful storyteller John Man draws on his extensive travels through Attila’s heartland and his experience with the nomadic traditions of Central Asia to reveal the man behind the myth.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 2 Reprint edition (February 17, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0312539398
ISBN-13: 978-0312539399




Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Attila the Hun was "the Genghis Khan of Europe," says British historian Man in this fast-paced though often prosaic account of the rise and fall of the Huns and their infamous leader. Man traces the origin of the Huns, following these restless nomads from the steppes of Mongolia to present-day Hungary. Attila led his people in terrifying raids into new lands in the fifth century. Relying on scant written sources, Man (Genghis Khan; Gobi: Tracking the Desert) portrays Attila as a man of "extreme contradictions" and moods, skillful at deceiving both his closest advisers and his greatest enemies. In his military campaigns, Attila moved quickly to loot as many villages as he could in order to satisfy his followers. His armies of mounted archers, a throng that could shoot up to 12,000 arrows a minute, wrought destruction and terror wherever they went. He terrified the Romans as he approached their city, but Man says Attila would never have been able to penetrate the fortresses of Rome or Constantinople, and he died of a burst varicose vein in his stomach before he could even try. Full of military adventures and political maneuverings, Man's lively narrative provides a glimpse of a leader whose name has become synonymous with ruthlessness. Illus., maps. (July 18)
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Praise for Attila:

“Entertaining and lucid account of a phenomenal militarist unable to resist a crumbling empire’s vast, unprotected wealth.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Full of military adventures and political maneuverings, Man's lively narrative provides a glimpse of a leader whose name has become synonymous with ruthlessness.” —Publishers Weekly

“Man’s book is a highly readable account of a bellicose steppe people and their leader who, long after they departed from the West, continue to haunt the European imagination.” —Library Journal
“One could not wish for a better storyteller or analyst than John Man. . . . His Attila is superb, as compellingly readable as it is impressive in its scholarship.” —Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Stalin

About the Author

John Man is a historian and travel writer with a special interest in Mongolia. His Gobi: Tracking the Desert was the first book on the subject in English since the 1920s. He is also the author of Atlas of the Year 1000, Alpha Beta, on the roots of the Roman alphabet, and The Gutenberg Revolution, on the origins and impact of printing. Genghis Khan: Life, Death, and Resurrection was published in 2005. His latest books are The Terracotta Army and The Great Wall.