Attila the Hun

I’ve been fascinated by Attila for a while, at least partly because there seems to be so little actually known about him and he – along with his Huns – have become synonymous with evil bad rampaging Vandals (with whom they were contemporaneous – lovely). So when I saw a bio of him written by John Man, who I just love after reading Alpha Beta and The Gutenberg Revolution, I was very impressed. And I am still impressed after reading it. He does a lot to make his work accessible, and bring the subject to life: I wonder how many other would-be biographers of Attila would go to Hungary and find the man who has, single-handedly, basically reinvented the art of horse-mounted archery? And from he description, this is quite an amazing feat.

So anyway, finally I have an understanding of where Attila actually fits into the whole world history picture. I also really appreciated Man spending a chapter on later representations of Attilla and the Huns, since I never understood why the Germans suddenly became Huns in WWI. Plus, to read about the near-veneration of Attila frm modern Hungarians is also eye-opening; that old chestnut about one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter…

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