The Thousand Years’ Twilight
Victor Davis Hanson has added intriguing and refreshing historical references to the pages of NR for a number of years. As Michael Knox Beran implies at the conclusion of “Wisdom in Command” (June 3), his review of Mr. Hanson’s latest book, The Savior Generals, there is not much new under the sun, and we would do well to study history in order to better understand our current challenges.
I look forward to reading The Savior Generals, but I have a small bone to pick with the review. Mr. Beran paints a picture of the Eastern Roman Empire as a decaying, near-failed state, with General Belisarius fighting nobly to salvage Rome’s past glory as twilight descends upon its ragged and cash-strapped remains. Although there is much to criticize and dislike about Roman imperial culture (both eastern and western), the end was not even close for the eastern regime in the middle of the sixth century. In fact, Belisarius and his fellow generals aggressively reasserted control, in the name of Justinian I, over Rome itself, Italy, and much of the Mediterranean rim across North Africa and into the Iberian Peninsula. This does not seem like a technocratic repairing of the breaches in Byzantium’s defenses, as Mr. Beran portrays it.