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Belisarius: The Greatest Roman General Rides Again
MERCHANTVILLE, NJ—In the early 6th century AD, the Christian Roman Empire was on the ropes. Warlike Germanic nations had conquered its western provinces and reorganized them as barbarian kingdoms. Though the eastern Empire survived with its capital at Constantinople, it was still under constant pressure from Hunnic and Slavic tribes who raided across the Danube frontier and from full-scale invasions by the powerful king of Persia.
At a time when Roman power seemed almost extinct, a general arose who did what no one thought possible. He went toe-to-toe with the Empire’s most powerful enemies. Belisarius: The First Shall Be Last (Arx Publishing, January 2007, paperback, 248 pages + maps, ISBN: 9781889758787, list price: $14.95) is a historical novel by Paolo A. Belzoni that recreates the early life of this amazing hero. “I wrote the book mainly for Catholic home-schoolers —older kids,” Belzoni said. “But it’s my hope that adults will read it as well. It’s about one of those moments in history when a great man was desperately needed and one arose, almost as if by Divine Providence.”
Filled with action and intrigue, the book is replete with historical and religious detail drawn from ancient historians. “The story of the most famous general of the Eastern Roman Empire is well worth telling,” commented Colleen Drippè, editor of Hereditas: A Catholic Literary Magazine. “Young readers will learn a bit about the sixth century, one of the less studied epochs of history, while meeting a gallery of interesting characters drawn from all parts of the empire and outside.”
Similarly, Margot Davidson of love2learn.net—Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers called the book, “a great new resource for those of you ‘reading your way through history.’...What I really like about this telling of the story is that it is not a white-washed version of the times, or of Belisarius. His virtue is portrayed sensibly without making him appear overly perfect. He is an appealing character, one the reader sympathizes with and roots for.”
John Desjarlais, writing on CatholicFiction.net, remarked that the book "strikes one as a conservative rallying cry to the "Christian West."...It presents and argues for, in an understated way, a Christian way of war, to be waged by manly men who value purity and patriotism for the sake of preserving Christian civilization. Nobiscum Deus, they cry in battle. So does the book."
John Moorehouse, editor and publisher of Catholic Men’s Quarterly agrees: “Belisarius and his late Roman world are brought to life through Belzoni’s masterful blending of fact and fiction. Courageous and brilliant in battle, hardworking and devout in everyday life, young Belisarius comes across as a man whose virtues, inspired by a firm Christian faith, form the background of a novel that will keep the most reluctant of readers turning pages.”
About the Author: Paolo A. Belzoni is a Catholic homeschooling father of four residing in New Jersey. His interests include Roman and Byzantine military history, archaeology, and early Christian history.