Books: After the End

COUNT BELISARIUS—Robert Graves— Random House ($3).

Sitting in the ruins of the Capitol at twilight, a 27-year-old Englishman named Edward Gibbon once dreamed of writing a massive work on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. At that time the British Empire was growing strong. And to young Edward Gibbon the fall of Rome seemed a simple, faraway matter: wealth unmanned the noble Romans; Christianity enfeebled the masses; the barbarians advanced.

Much has happened to England since Gibbon wrote, and to Robert Graves the fall of Rome seems a much more complex matter than...

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