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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific fictional biography/autobiography of Caesar Augustus
This John Williams novel is a real literary treasure. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 1973, this is the work of a writer whose skill with language has probably not been equaled since his death some ten plus years ago. "Augustus" is a personal history of the remarkable man who inherited from his uncle, Julius Caesar, a sense of mission to save the...
Published on 28 Oct 2011 by Blue in Washington

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read up to a point
Having read Stoner, I thought I would try this but in the end didn't make it to the end. Possibly my fault as I just didn't find the subject matter gripping enough and the style, switching around from one time period to another, made it hard to keep up.
Published 5 months ago by jw


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific fictional biography/autobiography of Caesar Augustus, 28 Oct 2011
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus (Vintage) (Paperback)
This John Williams novel is a real literary treasure. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 1973, this is the work of a writer whose skill with language has probably not been equaled since his death some ten plus years ago. "Augustus" is a personal history of the remarkable man who inherited from his uncle, Julius Caesar, a sense of mission to save the faltering Roman Republic and succeeded in making the city state into a well organized, stable and prosperous empire. The author argues, through fictionalized letters between Augustus, his family, friends and rivals, that the reluctant emperor, who preferred the title "First Citizen of Rome", made painful personal choices and sacrifices throughout his life, all in the interest in protecting the Roman state. The last chapter of the book, written as a letter to his last living old friend--Nicolas of Damascus--is Augustus' final reflection on his life. It is as poignant a swan song as you can find in literature and probably captures the man and his life as well as anyone has to date.

"Augustus" has been compared to the "Claudius" books of Robert Graves, which are quite fine as historical fiction. In my opinion, this work by Williams is even better in its language and scholarship and, overall, as a novel. Really one of the best books I read in some time.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of John Williams 3 masterpieces, this is the best., 6 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
That's right. Three of them. Stoner, Butchers Crossing and Augustus. I know, I wondered myself, how can you write a gripping book about a Roman emperor dead these last two thousand years? Especially as the whole thing, bar the third part, is composed entirely of letters, diary entries and the like. Suffice to say, Williams did it. I cried at the end and I still don't understand why. Reading it is like getting to know someone intimately from chance glances reflected in passing windows. The book is sublime. Part Three, where Augustus finally addresses the reader is, to me, the best text in English I have ever had the good fortune to read. Masterful, honest, illuminating. Read this book, I beseech you. You will not regret it.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underated, unique and witty, 28 May 2006
By 
Anne (England, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Augustus (Vintage) (Paperback)
I'm just going to tell you to do yourselves a favour and check this book out. Allan Masse, bow your head to the lesser known an appreciated John Williams. "Augustus: A Novel" is written in a very original way, using drafted letters, diaries, memoirs and even poems to tell the story making it a very easy read. You feel that you get to know each of the historical characters and they are written in a believable and stunningly truthful way, it is practically un-faulted. Its only fault is the title, which would have been better, titled as "Augustus and Julia."

Why?

Because the book is told in three parts, and each part has a theme. Where part one is about Octavius and his rise to become Augustus, part two and three revolves around mainly him and his daughter Julia, and it is Julia who dominates the eyes and excitement of the reader making her out to be the more interesting and certainly the more likeable of the two. Nonetheless, the father-daughter relationship between the two is quite touching and you can tell honestly that Julia means the world to her father. Other characters there to excite and delight you are Livia, Maecenas, Agrippa and various other people like Tiberius and Julia's partner-in-crime and ambitious lover Jullus Antonius who also draws your attention as the only living son of Mark Antony, falling in love with Caesar's daughter, Julia, in a non-typical Romeo and Juliet way.

Without a doubt, the best Augustus fiction I've read. If you want a good Roman book to read then I advise you to get this out of the library and give it a go.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 11 July 2013
By 
Ian S McDonald (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
A good brisk story line which carries the reader along without losing historical credibility. As good as - probably better than - Graves I Claudius.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner, 10 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
History comes alive. A fast-moving but intelligent treatment of a dramatic period of world-history through the convincingly imagined eyes of many of the leading participants. Entirely different in pace and feel to "Stoner", but with essentially the same aim of assessing the value of an individual's life over its course. I enjoyed it immensely.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another winner from Williams, 16 Sep 2013
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Mr. K. H. Cobb (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
The book covers mostly the period from 45 BC to 4 AD, following the rise to power and emporership of Octavius. It is told in the form of correspondence between soldiers, politicians and men of letters of that time. A recipe for tedium, one might think, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is gripping and beautifully written, and shows a deep and detailed grasp of all aspects of civil and military life. It s one of the best books I have read this year, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for literature of the highest quality and informed content.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy follow-up to Stoner, 2 Nov 2013
By 
J. H. Bretts "jerard1" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
On the surface Augustus,at least five years in the making, is very different from its predecessor Stoner. Where Stoner was narrow in focus, an in-depth exploration of the life of a mid-West University professor of English, Augustus is a sweepingly ambitious historical novel about Octavian and the Roman Empire with a huge cast and told in the form of letters, journal entries and other written artifacts. And yet both are distinguished by brilliant artistic skill and intelligence, and similarity of theme - the nature of love, friendship, politics, family relationships. The Roman Empire and its machinations are brought fully to life as are a whole host of major and minor characters.The rediscovery of John Williams is one of the best things in years in American literature. Now onto Butcher's Crossing!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant novel, 5 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
A brilliant novel by John Williams, it brought to life the Romans and names from history such as Vergil, Ovid, Horace. Impeccably well written and researched, probably the best novel I have read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Augustus by John Williams, 6 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
A fascinating read even if a little over wordy in places. A brilliant insight into the founder of imperial Rome through a wonderfully constructed series of letters, reports and other "documents'" in the format used in Thornton Wiilder's excellent novel on the death of Julius Caesar, "the Ides of March."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling, 3 Dec 2013
This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
For such an unusual subject the life of the Emperor Augustus I could be not put it down. Williams draws you into the world of pre- Christian Rome with its intrigues and passions. Beautifully. written as one would expect from such an master of language. After reading Stoner I had to reaffirming more of this classic American author.
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Augustus: A Novel
Augustus: A Novel by John Williams (Paperback - 6 Feb 2003)
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