This is my review of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin.
Inspired by the recent exhibition in London, I bought this to gain some deeper knowledge of a civilisation which I know to have been very important. The book brought home to me how influential Byzantium was, and the poignancy of our general ignorance of a "lost" way of life which still influences us to a surprising degree in various ways.
Although it provided some useful insights, this book fell short in the excessive reference to tedious lists of details, and a somewhat wooden style. The frequent repetition resulting from the thematic approach was also irritating – although I could have done with more of it when it came to explaining some of the obscure points of religious belief. The text seemed driven by an academic need to "mention everything" rather than select some key points of interest and difference.