Lost to the West is a very good readable brief history of the Byzantine Empire, and I recommend it as such to anyone who would like to familiarize themselves with the subject.

However, the subtitle “The Forgotten Byzantine Empire that Saved Western Civilization” suggests a particular thesis for the book, which it does not follow. Byzantine culture is brought up on occasion, as well as the rise and fall of education during various periods. However, ‘saving Western Civilization’ only comes in at the end with the population fleeing the Ottoman Empire, and bringing copies of various Roman and Greek works that had lost in Western Europe.

I’d kind of like to see a detailed look at just how certain works have been transmitted down from ancient times to today, but that is a specialized subject, and not part of this book. Similarly, there is only passing mention, at the beginning and at the end, of how ‘Byzantine’ history has been ‘lost’ to Western culture, not least because of how it has been somewhat artificially removed from ‘Roman’ history.

But it is good, light, general history, and if you enjoy it, I highly recommend the author’s podcast, 12 Byzantine Rulers, which was done to go along with this book. Conversely, if you enjoyed the podcast, you will enjoy the book.