James Howard-Johnston

Conjuring up the Past

Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman

By Minoo Dinshaw

Allen Lane 768pp £30 order from our bookshop

Steven Runciman cut an impressive figure among historians of Byzantium. On the whole we kept our distance. We were both in awe of him and inclined to criticise what Minoo Dinshaw refers to as a lack of ‘societal breadth’ in his gripping narrative histories. (It is present only in his History of the First Bulgarian Empire and a 1957 lecture on Sicily, in which he showed that he could, if he wanted, perform in the manner approved by the Annales school of history.)

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