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The First man in Rome Unknown Binding – 1990


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  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Century; First Edition edition (1990)
  • ASIN: B002KDQJHS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
Having no personal commitment to either of the new consuls, Gaius Julius Caesar and his sons simply tacked themselves onto the procession which started nearest to their own house, the procession of the senior consul, Marcus Minucius Rufus. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
When they are done well, there is nothing like a fat historical novel. You enter a world that is alien and yet so very familiar. It fills you with wonder and the desire to return to that world and learn more.

While I am a bit of a snob when it comes to writing, I was told by so many people that this was a truly excellent novel by none other than the author of The Thorn Birds, which I scorned (without reading it) as cheap melodrama. So I got it and was not only not disappointed but utterly enthralled from page one. This is superb and masterful fiction, well researched, expertly plotted, and full of page-turning action and intrigue.

The story takes place in the sunset of Republican Rome, starting in 110 BC, with military threats to Rome in N. Africa (Jugurtha) and from the German hordes to the North (Boiorix). The main characters include Gaius Marius - a military genius who has seen his public career stalled due to his lack of patrician birth status - and Lucius Sulla, a poor and debauched aristocrat who will stop at nothing to advance himself. These men form an alliance that is as complex and multifaceted as it is effective. Marius' opponents are the good-boy Patriciate, who are for the most part hidebound aristocrat mediocrities undeserving of their birth right to their share in the power of Rome. But there is also the hilarous Patrician opponent Scaurus, who loathes Marius as much as he loves him and needs his military genius. Other Characters include Julius Caesar's parents, grand parents, and a host of politicians whose personalities are subtle and beautifully drawn. This is not melodrama but wonderful storytelling.

If you want to know what it was like to live then, this novel will really open that world to you.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Davies on 20 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
To put it simply, I couldn't stop reading. A truly remarkable work of historical fiction based soundly in historical fact. As a fan of this type of literature, I heartily recommend this example.
Not a single character appears but is fully rounded and fleshed out; she happily delves back into a particular character's past then effortlessly brings you back to the current plot. The plots themselves are beautifully complex without being complicated. Her true masterstroke (amongst many) is in making each character human. The enemies of the books 'heroes' are not villains - simply differently minded. Even our protagonists are not above selfish or violent deeds. All is so well presented in the social and moral code of the time, without any modern comment, that you begin to forget you're reading a historical work.
Having finished this book, I was delighted to see that there are several more to follow. Until I get my hands on them I'm very happily reading the glossary!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kittycat on 8 Jun. 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you are at all the tiniest bit interested in the history of ancient Rome, you must read the Masters of Rome series. Some of the practices of Roman society at that time were, in modern eyes, barbaric, but McCullough presents them in a matter-of-fact way, she does not judge anyone. Even the monstrous Sulla was, at times, likeable and you can't get away from the fact he was a genius. I liked that she did not just present the bare bones of Roman history, but each character comes alive at her hands. You learn why each character behaves as he/she does, and their decisions that will eventually shape the world. You can almost imagine strolling through the Subura, taking in the hustle and bustle of street vendors, touching elbows with Roman citizens from the poorest to the grandest, soaking in the smells and the hot sun, hearing the babble of many different languages. McCullough, who must have spent countless exhausting months researching this, presents her book as if to say: this was Rome - this was how her citizens behaved - these are the laws they formulated, the battles they fought, their hopes and struggles. You may not approve but that was life in 60BC - these people are not for you to judge, but take the time to learn their story and understand how the modern world was shaped.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neurophysicist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney She then worked as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. She is the author of the record-breaking international bestseller The Thorn Birds and her series of books on Rome have also been bestsellers. Colleen lives on Norfolk Island in the Pacific with her husband.

Colleen McCullough has been one of my favourite authors ever since I read this book many years ago. Her research on the subject and her feel for the period of history she is writing about is second to none. The only slight criticism that I have with the books on Rome and it is probably outside the author's control is that the books are so detailed that the number of characters that become part of the story is so large that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of them all, but this is a small price to pay for the enjoyment the books give the reader.

The First Man in Rome begins the series and the reader is introduced to Gaius Marius, one of Rome's greatest and most successful generals. Wealthy but from a low born family. A man who has pulled himself up by his boot straps and on the other side of the coin, Cornelius Sulla, a man from well bred stock. Both men have a driving ambition, both want to be the `The First Man in Rome'. There ambition drives them forward and will lay the foundations for the greatest empire known to mankind.

This is a book of human frailties and also burning ambition. It has a cast of some of the most famous names to grace Roman history. The start of one of the greatest fictional sagas written in modern times and a most for all lovers of ancient history.
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