Rome in the early years of Julius Caesar was a time of turmoil and growth. While the Roman state continued to expand, it did so at a great cost of blood and lives. Territory was brought under Roman control only by killing millions of people in those territories. Furthermore, the increasing size and wealth meant that the central government controlled by the Senate grew weaker and more easily toppled.
Very early in his life, Julius Caesar was identified as a man that would rise high in Roman political circles. Using largely political means, by the age of thirty, he had an important role in the government. However, it was as a military commander that Caesar excelled. Through a combination of military genius and brutality, he was able to defeat the Gauls and the Germanic tribes of northern Europe. When he crossed the Rubicon River with his army and entered Roman territory proper, it was clear to all that he intended to seize absolute power and become permanent Emperor of Rome. However, a band of Senators who wanted to preserve what democracy remained in the Roman government conspired to assassinate him and they were successful. While they were able to kill the man, it was impossible to kill the position and shortly after, Rome became an Empire, ruled by a succession of Caesars until the Empire was no more.
In the modern world, the news often covers mass killings, most recently the genocidal actions in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. Less well known are the genocidal actions of Julius Caesar as he used his armies to conquer and enslave vast territories for the Roman state. This book is an excellent, brief yet thorough presentation of the short and very historically significant life of the first man to become Caesar. Although he was killed for his goal, it turned out to be an inevitable consequence of the historical forces present at the time.