Everybody in the blogosphere writes reviews of books by modern economists or academics, producing a lively discussion on the topics on vogue. That's also how people like Yglesias or Tyler Cowen get good money also. Well I'm not going to participate in that, and I'm not reading any of these trendy books, in part because my fellow bloggers have done all the digestion necessary for me to know what the book is about without contributing to their chalupas eating budget.
All this doesn't mean that I don't read any books at all. It's that what I read doesn't usually interest anyone else. But to hell with it, I've got a blog and I'm gonna do a book review too.
I just finished reading the 1971 book, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the Eleventh through the Fifteenth Century, by Speros Vryonis Jr.
The Byzantine Empire is one of the most interesting polities in human history, for many reasons. For one, it was the Roman Empire! Or so they called themselves, Romania. It was a Christian bureaucratic theocracy in a time where most of Europe was divided in tiny fiefdoms by uncouth German knights. Humans generally have a fascination for continuity, and Byzantium was a miracle of continuity in a world of violent upheaval. It survived the Goths, the Slavs, the Bulgars. Even the Arabs, although they did do a lot...