Busy With the Byzantines

Allen and Chait

Busy With the Byzantines

Allen and Chait

Busy With the Byzantines
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Jan. 18 1999 4:26 PM

Allen and Chait

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Dear Jodie,

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I'm afraid I have little else to add today. My lack of inspiration can be blamed, I think, on the fact that I've trapped myself in a three-volume set on the history of the Byzantine Empire. When I first began this endeavor, it seemed to make sense. Yes, I figured, each volume costs $40, but then for the rest of my life I would never have to spend another dime learning about Byzantium. It has since turned into a hopeless quagmire. The details--and I should have been tipped off to this from the beginning--are starting to become, well, Byzantine. Yet I have to finish, because I can't justify spending all that money without finding out what happens to the Byzantines. I strongly suspect the empire falls in the end--you never see Byzantines in the news anymore--but I need to know how and why. The result is a stalemate, wherein I can't finish the series, and I can't let myself give up and buy another book. Tonight I resolve to renew my efforts, finish off the Byzantines, and then find a nice, short paperback.

Jonathan

Jodie T. Allen is the Washington editor of Slate. Jonathan Chait is a fellow at the New America Foundation and an associate editor for the New Republic.