I first read the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire at about the age of 14 in a copy borrowed from my local public library. It was a huge battered old volume with thick slightly yellowed paper. It looked old enough to have been around since not long after the fall of the Roman empire itself.
I had picked it up purely for its subject matter. I had no idea who Gibbon was or that it was a classic. I just read it. Thinking about it, it was probably a nineteen thirties reprint of a Victorian edition. One of the things about it was that it had a lot of footnotes. The editor was fond of finding fault with Gibbon. And when it got to chapter 15 which covers the rise of Christianity they got to be almost every page. It was a bit like reading an argument.
Continue reading at the blog's new site http://historybooksreview.co.uk/rise-of-christianity-gibbons-decline-and-fall/