The dustjacket of this book suggest we are going to get to the bottom of the Spartacus myth - who he was and what he did. Unfortunately, even after wading through 225 pages of turgid prose, not much light is thrown on either.
The problem with writing a book on Spartacus is a lack of sources. Only a few Roman and Greek writer mention him at all - you could write most of this material together on the back of a postcard. Mr Trow admits this problem and deals with it by long roundabout discussions on Roman life (the army, religion etc) that are triggered by references to such in the sources. This is a sensible approach but means that the majority of the book is nothing to do with Spartacus but is instead a primer on (mostly) late Republican Rome. The Spartacus story itself, told in chronological order, is made up of a few sentences in each chapter that mostly cover other things. I have read about late Republican life before - what I wanted to read about was the Spartacus tale itself.
I was also concerned about factual accuracy. There are some obvious mistakes (one "Christian" is described as writing in the year XX BC) and quite a few dubious claims that make you suspicious of the rest of Mr Trow's assertions. The fact that Mr Trow's only other two books are titled "Boudicca, The Warrior Queen" and "Vlad the Impaler, in search of the real Dracula" make me (perhaps unfairly) further doubt the depth of his knowledge.
The style of writing made the book heavy going. Events always seem to be "astonishing" and reflections on events always seem to start with "ironically". It was a struggle to get through it, and at times it was only its relatively short length that kept me from giving up.
So why did I give it 2 stars? Firstly, I think any attempt to look into the life of Spartacus deserves some praise, because it is a difficult job and not that much has been published on the subject. Secondly, if you are completely new to this period you may find it a diverting introduction. If you are new to the period though, you would be much better off reading Tom Holland's "Rubicon" which is infinitely more enjoyable and enlightening.