In the year 617 the Roman Empire stands on the brink of extinction. In the West the empire is long gone. And now the Persians have conquered much of what is left and have arrived outside Constantinople where the emperor Heraclius is reduced to begging to be allowed to keep his throne. The Persians turn down the deal, the war continues and Heraclius leads a desperate counter attack. James Howard-Johnston told the story brilliantly in his book The Last Great War of Antiquity. For non specialists it is a little known episode but the war, which lasted for some 25 years, was an existential crisis and a forerunner of the struggles with Islam that began only a few years later. It was a great pleasure to welcome James to the podcast.