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Spartacus Mass Market Paperback – 19 Jun 2000

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Mass Market Paperback, 19 Jun 2000
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: ibooks Inc (19 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743412826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743412827
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 3.6 x 16.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,136,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on 29 May 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Freedom is a tough habit to suppress, and even by using widespread terror the Romans found it very difficult to suppress the freedom of slaves who rose in revolt under the leadership of Spartacus.
Rome was built on exploitation, slavery and terror, says Fast. Interesting, if true. Roman terror was expressed in the crucifixion of 6,000 slaves after the revolt of the gladiators was crushed in 71 BC. Fast goes into exquisite technical details about crucifixion, which could take four days for a victim to die. But he also says even the wealthiest Roman citizens and politicians of that time could walk the common streets without fear of crime.
But the thrust of this book is the quest for freedom. Fast was a victim of the 1950s McCarthyism, and thus knew personally what it means to be persecuted for being out of step with the ruling authorities. Fast's views are briefly expressed by Spartacus, "Our law is simple. Whatever we take, we hold in common, and no man shall own anything but his weapons and his clothes. It will be the way it was in the old times."
Old times will never return. Rome was becoming a society without values or ideals, with the rich addicted to luxury, depravity and wastrel excess and the poor supported by welfare and mindless but increasingly violent games. He makes the Roman Senate sound a lot like the US Senate of the 1950s; proud, corrupt, ignorant and arrogrant. His portrayal of Rome is enough to make anyone cheer Julius Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon to impose authoritative law and order.
The book is a celebration of freedom, without really defining its meaning. Perhaps unwittingly, he credits Spartacus' followers with the same loyalty that turned Rome into a tyranny; as one says, "I want you to place me by your side.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sally-Anne on 13 Nov 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The gladiator slave Spartacus, was loved and respected by his down-trodden comrades and the woman he regarded as his wife. Under his leadership the slaves at the gladiatorial school of Batiatus in Capua rebelled, defeated their Roman guards and escaped. They became a magnet, a hope, a cause for the other miserable, wretched victims of Roman imperialism. A slave army grew and threatened to tear out the rotten, decadent heart of Rome. For a short while it looked as though it was really possible that Rome could become the victim of its victims. Bloody battles were fought and won by the slave army. But in the end, the power of Rome was stronger, bigger, harder, better organised, more ruthless and perhaps more desperate to preserve its parasitic way of life.
It's impossible not to identify with the briefly liberated slaves and to root for them every step of the way. The Romans in the story just seem irredeemably empty of any virtue or grace. They depend on slaves for almost everything in their day to day existence. Slaves produce the food, cook it and serve it; they work in the mines (work which kills the children very quickly and the adults fairly quickly); they provide the entertainment from performing sex to dying in the arena; they carry the Romans round in litters and they seem to be paid mainly in beatings and death. The working class Romans have been replace by slave labour so have to be supported by dole and kept quiescent by entertainments such as gambling and gladiatorial competitions. The system is rotten to the core. The meaning of life is lost, to the extent that Roman men even sell their own children into slavery when their sexual recreation results in the pregnancy of a slave woman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phil on 25 May 2009
Format: Paperback
'History rewritten by Marxists'- this was a dissmissive description by a well known daily tabloid hack in the uk about the film 'Spartacus'on its release. That film, probably the most intelligent Sword-and -sandal epic ever made, was based in part on this novel. Howard Fasts left wing credentials are well known, and it is clear that his sympathies lie unequivicolly with the downtrodden slaves. But this is far from a mere didactic tract, it is also far more than a historical potboiler. The characters are beautifully drawn, the historical detail worn lightly. From the very first pages, as a party of wealthy and spoilt young Romans travel idly up the Appian Way, observing the terrible retribution meted out to their fellow humans in the aftermath of the revolt, one is completely gripped. After reading this novel I don't think that anyone would be able to
look disspasionately at ancient Rome again, one cannot ignore the stench beneath all the 'strength and honour' pretence, one sees a truly disgusting,brutal and thankfully ended slave-society. And ones admiration for one legendery hero,a despised slave,lowest- of-the-low,("a tool that talks" as their owners actually called them,) could in the wrong hands turn into mere adulation. But Fast was too good a writer for that, he had to speculate of course, but this Spartacus is man, warts and all, seen through the prism of the people whose lives he changed.
A wonderful historical book,a tribute to the anonymous unsung millions upon whose shoulders we all, including hack tabloid writers, stand.
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