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Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic Paperback – 10 Jun 2004


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Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic + Persian Fire: The First World Empire, Battle for the West + In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (10 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034911563X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349115634
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Historian Tom Holland has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for BBC Radio. Rubicon was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2004, and Persian Fire won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award 2006.

Product Description

Review

Holland has the rare gift of making deep scholarship accessible and exciting. A brilliant and completely absorbing study (A. N. Wilson, author of The Victorians)

This is the best one-volume narrative history of the Rome between King Tarquin and Emperor Augustus I have ever read. The story of Rome's experiment with republicanism - peopled by such giants as Caesar, Pompey, Cato and Cicero - is told with perfect fre (Andrew Roberts)

A modern, well-paced and finely observed history which entertains as it informs (OBSERVER)

Explosive stuff ... a seriously intelligent history ... [written] with élan and gusto ... It is a history for our times ... Wickedly enjoyable (Peter Jones, BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE)

Book Description

' The Book that really held me, in fact, obsessed me, was Rubicon ...This is narrative history at its best. Bloody and labyrinthine political intrigue and struggle, brilliant oratory, amazing feats of conquest and cruelty.' Ian McEwan, Books of the Year, GUARDIAN

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Gavin P. Brooks on 2 July 2004
Format: Paperback
Holland's narrative style means that even those with little, or no, previous knowledge of Roman history can soon find themselves totally engrossed, and enriched, by the story of the Republic's rise and fall.
It is not just the people and personalities that come to life in this book, but the nature of Rome itself. The reader is not just taken on a journey through the personal aspirations of each player, but through the mindset and aspirations of Rome as a whole.
Holland is not afraid to include the small details, such as salacious gossip of the time, which helps to add to the colour and vibrancy and brings the ancient city back to life. While the violence can appear as a bloody reminder of how far civilisation may have moved on, the political machinations have a far more familiar ring to them.
The book is littered with reminders of how much today's society has taken from, and owes to, Roman times. However, this is not done in a preachy pointed manner, rather the evidence is there for the reader to pick up on, and judge for themselves.
The main historical figures of the time, Cicero, Caesar, Pompey, etc, are the main focus of each section. Rubicon allows us to see the interaction and the power play between each of them. As the story of the alliances, oppositions and betrayals unfolds, the urge to keep reading is immense.
The book refers back to previous events in chapters, which serves to reinforce the readers understanding of events. There are maps that help to explain where places are, and their relation to Rome at the time.
Obviously, covering such a vast amount of time, and such an array of people, means that the book can only really scratch the surface of the period it covers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lei-Lei Jayenne on 16 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
What a superb book! Having only known Tom Holland for his book Supping with Panthers, I really had no idea he was so knowledgable about this period in Ancient History. I am hugely impressed with this book and it's vivid depictions of Roman society. But more importantly, I love the way Holland has brought these great characters to life. We learn about their personality traits and private lives, though never once drifting into 'soap-opera' territory. For instance, the chapters on Sulla, I found to be both page-turningly fascinating and, in points, hilariously funny. As a student of this period in history, I can only lament that this book wasn't around when I studied for my exams, it would have made a clearer counterpoint to the speeches and biographies of Cicero and Plutarch's Roman Lives.
I too cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you haven't delved into this subject before, this would be as good a place as any to get your introduction. If you've read everything you can get your hands on regarding this subject, then you should still read this book anyway, believe me it's worth the time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F. Aetius on 2 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
I first read Rubicon at least a few years back, and some of its facts and anecdotes are still fresh and vivid in my mind today, which is what most history books attempt (and fail) to do. When I first brought it I was looking forward to getting into it, considering the high amounts of praise showered upon Holland's prose and my own love of Roman history.

At first I was slightly disappointed, as the book didn't live up to my expectations. I basically thought that the book was supposed to be a narrative history of Julius Caesar's age, and I was a bit put off with all the initial historical background to the Roman Republic.
But as I continued to read it, Holland's wonderful writing drew me in, and I realised I couldn't put it down.

Holland takes the reader on a journey through the history of the Republic, and does an excellent job of explaining the Republic's background in government and society.
With the Background set, Holland then takes us on a tour of the last few decades of the Republic, from the days of Marius and Sulla, to the age of Antony and Cleopatra.
Holland's great strength is his ability to makes these historical figures come to life. He describes their appearance and personality, and in so doing he creates a vivid portrait of the person. His description of Julius Caesar, grand military strategist and shrewd politician, as a bald-headed dandy, who loved to wear loose belts and was very self concscious about his appearance, will no doubt surprise those who have come to base their opinions of him from old films and television shows.
He's also very adept at describing the enviroment, and he can therefore explain the reasons for the Republic's fall, as well as narrating the events and characters of the age.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By EFMOL on 30 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book without having ever heard anything about it purely because I love History books and was very surprised to see this one in the top ten bestseller list in a Dublin Book Shop. I took a chance, but was rewarded by a great read written in excellent style by Tom Holland.
As a schoolboy who in a boarding school where the study of Latin was compulsory for my class, I was fascinated by the Roman Republic and later Empire. In fact this was the only part of the subject of Latin that I liked! The good news for Latin haters is that there is very little latin used in this book.
Holland's description of the Roman Republic, its main characters, lesser characters, and the politics of the time is well done - though at times a little more detail would have been useful (some sections gloss over events and people very quickly). For me, two characters (Caeser and Cicero) dominated the book and could easily form the basis of separate books. Cicero in particular would fit in today's political world with ease. He is known as a great orater, but this ability is only briefly covered in his earlier speeches at court trials. As political schemer, he has been seldom matched over the centuries since. Caeser would just be another dictator, though not in the savage mould of Hitler, Stalin or Saddam. In fact he gets sympathetic treatment from Holland for his several episodes of clemency to his enemies.
Jealously and power struggles are what the last century BC was about. However, it still seems incredible that a republic with democratically elected Consuls existed over 2000 years ago. Holland attempts to paint a "true" picture of the times and does not attempt to hide the savagery, rivalries and corruption that ravaged the Republic in its last days.
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