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The Conquest of Gaul Hardcover – 1993

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Guild Publishing w/ Penguin (1993)
  • ASIN: B000WX0MMG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,682,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
1. Gaul comprises three areas, inhabited respectively by the Belgae, the Aquitani, and a people who call themselves Celts, though we call them Gauls. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a great fan of Caesar, I loved this. It's surprisingly enthralling once you get into it, but takes a bit of work to start, especially if you're not familiar with the setting and political background.

Originally written as a series of despatches to the Senate back in Rome, it is undoubtedly propaganda created by Caesar to justify his own conquests, and make sly digs at his enemies back in Rome.

Starting with his departure from Rome in 58bc after his consulship, this takes in the battles against the rebellion under Vercongetorix as well as the abortive first invasion of Britain.

It might not be to everyone's taste, but I think Caesar's an elegant and lucid writer who uses understatement as a style factor.

The Penguin volume is excellent, with an easy, free-flowing translations, an introduction outlining the background, a glossary of people and terms, and maps of Gaul. Altogether, a bargain.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 May 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a remarkable document. It is at once a manual on military strategy, on effective management of his troops, and on the psychology of the enemy. But it is also a history, with smatterings of anthropology, sometimes our only source on a vanished pre-Roman way of life in what became France. Finally, and most difficult to grasp, there is a political subtext, in which Caesar is communicating with both allies and rivals in Rome, advancing his career while advising future leaders on proper conduct. Why did he mention certain things? What did he omit? What political image (or self-consciously enduring myth) was he creating for himself? There are few antique documents as fascinating and to boot it is a literary masterpiece of clear exposition and rapidly moving narrative. Once you read it - and it must be read carefully and with references to other sources - you will have no doubt that Caesar was one of the greatest leaders of all time: afterall, his name is the basis for Tzar as well as Kaiser!

Then there are the details. What stick out in my mind are individual tales of bravery as well as foolishness, rendered in detail as vivid as a novel, and the ever-present possibility of failure or even disaster from which Caesar always manages to pull victory at the decisive moment; of course, there are the many instances of brutality in a time of different standards of military conduct. Then there is the siege of Alesia. To protect his troops and starve out the enemy (and the charismatic Gaul, Vercingetorix), Caesar at Alesia had in a matter of days not only to build a surrounding rampart facing in, but also one facing outwards (14 miles in curcumference!), to ward off the last-stand of the bravest of the Gauls.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frank Bierbrauer on 1 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
Caesar's Commentaries as they were suposed to be seen contrast markedly with say the "Histories" of Tacitus. How strong is this constrast, well we will see. But first, Caesar's Gallic wars covers his years as Consul and the gradual conquest of the lands known today as France, Belgium, Holland and the western parts of Germany. The book itself never mentions any of the political infighting taking place both in the Senate itself and among the enemies and friends of Caesar. Many things stand out in the history itself such as Caesar's advanced age before he started his conquests, given his birth in 100 BC and the start of the Gallic consulship in 58 BC Caesar was aready 42 years old. Interesting as well, is Caesar's insistence on the use of the third person to comment on the subsequent wars, and then even more surprising the change to first person in a very few instances to make a point. No doubt this is a device often invoked at the time to try to ensure impartiality or some fashionable way of writing. Certainly these commentaries were intended to be read by military and senatorial leaders on the way to wage war in Gaul and for that matter maybe even in Germany.

Now we come to the fascinating contrasts with Tacitus's "Histories" for example. Somehow, in the intervening time between the conquests of Caesar and the year of the four emperors, about 100 years, much had changed. Not only in the style of writing itself but in the way both Roman and foreign society was envisaged in Roman eyes. Nowhere except in a very few occasions did Caesar mention that his men needed encouragement for the fight, or lacked bravery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bernie VINE VOICE on 18 April 2010
Format: Paperback
When I was in the military, they stressed that to understand the craft of war; one should read the classics on war. However, no one told me that it would be fun. I stayed away from Caesar because I thought it would be stuffy. Well I was wrong. This book is a geography lesson and a history lesson. It is even a "how to". Nevertheless, it turns out that being a first person made it come alive. However, he had an ego and a half. The Campaign took place between 58 and 50 BC and the names for the tribes of Gaul are similar to the countries today. Now close your eyes and now open "It Doesn't Take a Hero" by General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Where does one stop and the other begin?

It Doesn't Take a Hero : The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
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