Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800 by Jeff Sypeck

Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800

byJeff Sypeck

Kobo ebook | October 13, 2009

Pricing and Purchase Info


Prices and offers may vary in store

Available for download

Not available in stores


On Christmas morning in the year 800, Pope Leo III placed the crown of imperial Rome on the brow of a Germanic king named Karl. With one gesture, the man later hailed as Charlemagne claimed his empire and forever shaped the destiny of Europe. Becoming Charlemagne tells the story of the international power struggle that led to this world-changing event.

Illuminating an era that has long been overshadowed by legend, this far-ranging book shows how the Frankish king and his wise counselors built an empire not only through warfare but also by careful diplomacy. With consummate political skill, Charlemagne partnered with a scandal-ridden pope, fended off a ruthless Byzantine empress, nurtured Jewish communities in his empire, and fostered ties with a famous Islamic caliph. For 1,200 years, the deeds of Charlemagne captured the imagination of his descendants, inspiring kings and crusaders, the conquests of Napoléon and Hitler, and the optimistic architects of the European Union.

In this engaging narrative, Jeff Sypeck crafts a vivid portrait of Karl, the ruler who became a legend, while transporting readers far beyond Europe to the glittering palaces of Constantinople and the streets of medieval Baghdad. Evoking a long-ago world of kings, caliphs, merchants, and monks, Becoming Charlemagne brings alive an age of empire building that continues to resonate today.

Title:Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800Format:Kobo ebookPublished:October 13, 2009Publisher:HarperCollins E-BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061834181

ISBN - 13:9780061834189


Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not much here. First of all, this is not a book--it is an article, an engaging one at times, but nothing more. It is barely 200 pages, printed annoyingly in 10-words a line font—the readers’ eyes practically have to jump from word to word they are so spread out. And like a student trying to stretch their work to the word-minimum set out by the teacher, the author heavily uses long quotes which add little to the book—they are space fillers. Only about 1 in 10 quotes actually adds real information or atmosphere to the subject. The spacing between paragraphs is equally generous, to the point where some pages have almost no content on them at all between the white space and the superfluous quotes. Finally, and most annoyingly, the author seems to try to take as long as possible to set out each concept, scene or situation, making the text often soft and florid. The “book” is a small part history with a heavy dose of descriptive fictional narrative, creating scenes and moods. But it often becomes limp and languid as a result, like someone droning on about a summer’s day or a memory of an old farmhouse in the middle of a pastoral wheat field. Get over yourself! Gotta say, I dislike historical fiction. I realize that there is a material dose of fiction in all historical works, no matter how serious—it is frankly necessary to fill in the many gaps and add flavor to dry facts, but still dislike it! I would personally recommend staying away from historical fiction as a genre. Bottom line, this book needs a good editor—but again, if it had one, it would become an article! . . . but a good one after you stripped away all the superfluous ornamentation. It is actually a good taste of the man and his times and a nice timeline of events and an outline of the major players of the time, but still only at a very high level. Nonetheless, after all my griping, this work (won’t call it a book!) is a nice appetizer for what certainly appears to be a fascinating period of history, as the remnants of the Roman Empire are re-sewn into what will ultimately emerge as modern Europe. I will definitely seek out more serious works on this topic. Overall, this work can be polished off in an afternoon, if that. It is not worth much effort, but it does not require much of an effort! So, read it or don’t, won’t make much of a difference . . . Cheers.
Date published: 2008-08-11