Although there are many translations of Caesar's Gallic War, Loeb is unique in providing the reader with not only the translation, but the original Latin text on the accompanying page. Loeb also provides translations from some of the best scholars in classical studies. As for the text itself, it is a priceless insight into the life of one of the world's greatest statesmen and military leaders.
Caesar's third person account covers his campaigns in Gaul, Germania, and Britannia (modern Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, and England) from 58-50 B.C. Most modern scholars agree that the works were probably dictated by Caesar and written down by one or more of his subordinates. It is important to understand that Caesar's Commentaries were rhetorical and had a political agenda. Caesar often dictated the development of his campaigns to be dispatched to Rome so that it could be propagated by his political supporters. This was done because Caesar's extraordinary command in Gaul was always subject to being terminated by his opponents, whereby he could face criminal prosecution upon his return. By the public circulation of these propagandist bulletins, Caesar sought to obtain support in the Senate or in the Forum with the people to both avoid Rome's political pitfalls and subjugate Gaul at the same time while getting filthy rich in the process.
Caesar is extremely detailed as to his tactics and strategies. He presents his information in a brief and concise way without sophistry. Caesar provides his rationale for his strategies and his evaluation of the enemy's potential. Caesar gives a detailed account of movements, sieges, river crossings, and his mastery of logistics. His best account is probably his final struggle with Vercingetorix, the fierce and charismatic Gallic chieftan who rallied all of the tribes in one final struggle against Rome and surrendered at the siege of Alesia. Ceasar clearly shows admiration for his fierce opponent and how he honorably surrendered himself at Alesia in 50 B.C. to save his followers from imminent starvation: Caesar had him garotted soon after returning in Triumph. The Commentaries also recite his unfulfilled victory/miserable defeat in conquering Britain. Caesar's commentaries are also extremely valuable in understanding the Gauls or Celts in general. As time passed after Caesar's conquest, the Gauls and most Celtic cultures became completely assimilated into Roman civilization and left little of their heritage behind. Unfortunately, Celtic culture had no written tradition and much of their culture is understood through the works of their Roman invaders or through Greek writers such as Polybius. Indirect information about Celtic culture is also obtained from studying its surviving offspring in Wales and Ireland. Thus, Caesar's writing offers a unique insight into Celtic culture, politics, and religion of druidism. As a matter of fact, Caesar probably sped up the extinction of Celtic culture by systematically persecuting the druidic sects who were the Celts' spiritual force and keepers of knowledge. A similar strategy was effectively carried out by the Spanish conquistadores in the Americas 1500 years later, thereby eliminating all essential traces of indigenous identity and solidarity. His commentaries do have some exaggerations as to troop numbers and fabled stories of the still unknown Germanic tribes; in those cases much of what he recites are rather fanciful accounts similar to those of 15th century European navigators.
As an author, Caesar is one of only three statesmen/authors from the late Roman Republic whose works have survived (Sallustius and Cicero being the others.) Along with his Civil War commentaries, his work is a priceless look into the politics, culture, warfare, and personalities of that period. Few, if any, political or militray leaders in history have had an impact on humanity as great and far reaching as Caesar. His conquests and statesmanship still resonate today in both our political and social institutions. It is a work that everyone should read at least once in their life to better understand the world they live in today.