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Attila The Hun

Attila the Hun is a household name – a byword for barbarism and violence – but few people know much about him. This book brings the man himself alive, revealing his world and his true significance.


For a crucial 20 years in the early 5th century AD, Attila held the fate of the Roman Empire and the future of Europe in his hands. In numerous raids and three major campaigns he and his warriors earned an undying reputation for savagery, and his empire briefly rivaled that of Rome, reaching from the Rhine to the Black Sea, from the Baltic to the Balkans.


Attila’s power derived from his astonishing character – capricious, arrogant and ruthless, but also brilliant. His own people thought him semi-divine, while educated westerners were proud to serve him. From his base in Hungary, this ‘Scourge of God’ very nearly dictated Europe’s future.


Researching this book took me to Hungary, of course, where Lajos Kassai has resurrected the Hunnish techniques of mounted archery. I also explored the Huns’ origins. Possibly, they arose from the people known as Hunnu in Mongolia, where English-speakers refer to them as Huns. We call them Xiongnu. They ruled Inner Asia for 400 years (200 BC- 200 AD). We know a lot about them – but not (yet) if they are Attila’s ancestors.

There is something fascinating and new on every page. He is as adept at describing… how a head is artificially flattened during childhood as at explaining imperial politics

John Man takes his readers on a thriller ride…. Man’s book reads like a novel, illuminating this dark villain of history

The rise and fall of Attila, as meteoric and momentous as Napoleon’s or Hitler’s, makes for fascinating reading

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Evening Standard

Good Book Guide

The Guardian

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