“Barbarians” by Terry Jones
It amazes me that despite deliberately avoiding the Monty Python TV series and movies, a style of humour I do not enjoy, I have enjoyed many of the books of both Michael Palin and Terry Jones.
“Barbarians” by Terry Jones and Alan Ereira, shows how history is recorded by the winner (in this case the ancient Romans) or who we consider the “good guys” (again said ancient Romans). Jones has used facts to illustrate the tale in a well written, well researched and in some places very funny (or is that sarcastic) book.
This book is about how some historians have portrayed historical Rome as the great saviour from the barbarian hordes. That, with a twist of fate, the Western Europe of today might have been totally different or, horror upon horror, that Western Europe could have been better (if not the same) than what we have at the moment. And, while we appreciate the best things the Romans have given us, we could have done without some of the worst things they have given us. Every Roman fan must realize that some of the worst of Roman culture could be destructive and cruel (ask the Gladiators or the followers of the non-state religion).
I found the disjointed timelines quite distracting. You just get into the flow of the story and the next chapter takes us 20 years back into the past, which is quite disturbing for us scatter brained types. Although perhaps I’m unique!
This books greatest virtue is it reads as a history lesson, and not a political manifesto. It’s the opinion of two men, and as every theory has two sides, you are welcome to think this is hogwash and the Romans were the greatest thing since chocolate. It’s an informative and fun read either way. Two of the many things I have learnt are Pythons can write but not act (sorry fans), and Asterix was right!