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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who says education can't be fun?
I ordered this expecting a dry-as-dust account of the life of Augustus. (I'll confess - I'd been a massive fan of HBO's 'ROME', and wanted to learn more about this fascinating, ice-blooded contradiction of a character.)

One thing this book is NOT is 'dry-as-dust.' Personally I found it much more of a page-turner than most of the novels I've read this...
Published on 25 Aug 2010 by J. Scott

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars passable bio, but fails to evoke the times or explore its meaning
This is a bio that covers the facts of Augustus' career and personal life, with some interpretation on controversies (such as Livia's purported murders). However, it only barely mentions the wider context - what was happening to the Empire, what the political changes meant, what it was like to live then. There was a lack of density to the writing, or it seemed an...
Published on 27 May 2011 by rob crawford


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who says education can't be fun?, 25 Aug 2010
By 
J. Scott "JS" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Paperback)
I ordered this expecting a dry-as-dust account of the life of Augustus. (I'll confess - I'd been a massive fan of HBO's 'ROME', and wanted to learn more about this fascinating, ice-blooded contradiction of a character.)

One thing this book is NOT is 'dry-as-dust.' Personally I found it much more of a page-turner than most of the novels I've read this year.

Not only will you learn a lot about the First Emperor, but you'll get a fascinating insight into his world, and the life and custom of ancient Rome.

If history at school had been like this, perhaps I wouldn't have failed so abysmally!

I recommend this not only as a great way to get familiar with the life and time of Augustus, but also as a flat-out page-turning good read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very readable and a good sense of time and place, 5 April 2009
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Paperback)
A magnificent and well written life of this great Roman who dominated his Empire's public life for half a century and gave his name to a title used by his successors, a month of the year and a modern English adjective. He created the idea of Western Europe. The author's style is partly chronological and partly thematic, dictated by the paucity of surviving sources for the second half of Augustus's life as helmsman of the Roman world, a surprising state of affairs for such a prominent subject. A great read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative & Entertaining, 13 May 2008
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Elizabeth Taylor (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Paperback)
Firstly let me say that I enjoyed this biography it provides a broad sweep to the life of Augustus, its well written, the author has an easy writing style and it includes small details that help us to understand everyday life in Ancient rome. For example, the description of a typical day in the life of Augustus and his wife Liva - their routine, their movements and the food they ate. It is not however an academic work, as although the author clearly knows his subject one of the most annoying things is a lack of footnotes. Often on a page it will be stated that Augustus once stated or once did or thought or said and you think where does that come from. If you turn to the appendix, it only contains one footnote per page, so not everything is referenced and consequently one has no means of knowing where the author obtained his information. For myself I found this very, very irritating as it was impossible to cross reference or even build up an idea of where the main original sources are. There is also not a great deal of analysis of Rome at the time, how the army worked, what the social structure was, so its not either a book for someone looking to understand life in rome in general. As a result, I could not recommend this book for anyone serious about studying Roman history.

Having made those statements I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its well written, the writer writes as if he knew Augustus personally and his anecdotes such as ' when at the hairdressers he used to read or write '' may or may not be assigned a footnote but they make for an entertaining read. The author clearly has respect for his subject but in general does not pronounce judgement rather tells the facts as we know them in an entertaining way. And of course the subject matter is interesting, plots, coup d'etat, Antony & Cleopatra, adultary, fighting and winning battles, court intrigue, political intrigue, creating an empire all juicy subjects by themselves.

So despite the lack of footnotes if like me you want to understand more about one of the europeans who have had an impact on our history and society, and want to achieve that in one shot through a book thats readable as well as informative then its a great place to start.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 101 ENTRY COURSE FOR ANCIENT ROMAN BEGINNERS, 31 Dec 2006
A very entertaining and informative book which will appeal particularly to those who like to dip into different eras of history. Packed with information on the workings of Rome in the first century AD and in parts delightfully gossipy in the traditions of Suetonius. The author never loses sight of his subject.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of Augustus, 22 Oct 2007
By 
D. A. Thomson "Donald Thomson" (Inverness) - See all my reviews
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This book is very well written and a real page turner. Augustus lead an action packed life and the book is never dull. It is well researched and pitched at the general reader. Where there are gaps or unanswered questions in the ancient sources Everitt provides different plausible hypotheses. Generally speaking Everitt attempts to show Augustus in a favourable light, but he doesn't whitewash some of his most ruthless acts such as the proscriptions, the exile of both Julias, the posthumous execution of Agrippa Posthumous. Despite Everitt's best efforts there is still something about the man that repels us. His later moderation was only possible because he had destroyed all possible opposition and he was a dictator in everything but name. We can't help feeling that Shakespeare got it right after all!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars passable bio, but fails to evoke the times or explore its meaning, 27 May 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Paperback)
This is a bio that covers the facts of Augustus' career and personal life, with some interpretation on controversies (such as Livia's purported murders). However, it only barely mentions the wider context - what was happening to the Empire, what the political changes meant, what it was like to live then. There was a lack of density to the writing, or it seemed an inability on the author's part to push beyond the surface of events. As such, I was continually disappointed in the reading experience.

Augustus is one of those figures that appears at historical watersheds: he embodies and also shapes his time, setting in motion forces that will dominate whole peoples for centuries. He started out in the country as Octavian, in a peripheral branch of the Julii family, of which Julius Caesar is the most famous. Somehow, perhaps on the way back from the Spanish civil wars, he was able to impress his great uncle Julius, who made him his heir just prior to his assassination. Octavian then became Octavius (a name change that Everitt inexplicably reverses), and at 19 is an aspirant to the center of political power in the world's greatest empire.

Rome at that time was facing a terrible dilemma: the institutions of the Republic were unable to cope with the complexities of the empire. In a way, governance by the Senate was amateurish, attention could not be focused on issues that needed resolution, and there were more opportunities to block action than to undertake it. This resulted in a drift towards autocracy, initiated by military leaders who commanded troups loyal only to their person in large part because political rivalries in the Senate hindered the great generals from taking care of their troups' retirement promises.

Octavius and Marc Antony were the two remaining Caesarians after the assassination of Julius, bitter rivals by temperament and thirst for power. Once Octavius emerged victorious, he consolidated power by maintaining the appearance of the Republic's institutions while holding military power with proconsular imperium in the largest nearby colonies. At this time, he had a few trusted allies, Agrippa and Maecenas, who accomplished, respectively, great things in terms of rebuilding the EMpire and establishing its images of power. The result was a centrally controlled state that could implement long-terms policies of reform under the rule of law, with rights extended to members of the Empire, co-opting them into the Roman system as stakeholders. This is a political accomplishment of genius.

While this is ably covered in the book, it fails to push into new territory, such as questioning whether the Republic had to end the way that it did or if there might have been another way that would have left the future open to evolution in a more pliant manner than pure autocracy. In a way, it was a return to kingship with another name, the pattern that survived in most of the world into the 20C. It was the end of the great experiments in republican government in the ancient world.

Could it have been different? What might have happened had the Republic been preserved in a new form? What experiments in government might have been possible? These are paths that the author did not explore - there is no political theory in the book, and I felt that it cried out for it. In contrast, Heather's Fall of the Roman Empire, addresses many of these questions at a later period: it is a profound inquiry into the meaning of the late Empire. I was hoping for the same about the establishment of the Empire by Octavius, and this book did not provide it. Perhaps this is unfair, but I wanted much more. There is virtually nothing, for example, on the social implications of the transition: to fund their civil war, Octavius and Anthony essentially decimated the nobiles (the old oligarchy) to expropriate their real estate for auction and then payment for their soldiers. This made the restoration of the Republic impossible and established the autocracy for good, i.e. exchanged liberty for order and security from civil war.

Instead, the author looks at the personal relationships within Augustus' "Divine Family" and his never-ending search for an heir. Even here, which should be covered of course, he comes short. Livia is portrayed as a simple loving wife of great intelligence: Everitt dismisses any speculation on whether she murdered potential heirs as the crude stereotypes of evil step mothers. Maybe, but there is no way to know. Again, I wanted much more and felt continually disappointed in the conventionality of Everitt's approach.

Recommended only as the most superficial introduction. This book just isn't a full meal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than many novels!, 9 Nov 2013
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Mr. D. Daglish "D. Daglish" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Paperback)
This is a wonderfully well written book which has none of the dryness of some historical writers who shall remain anonymous for legal reasons. I have to admit that the Roman Empire has been a fascinating subject for me since I was a wee boy of ten or so and I am 67 now. I bought this book on the back of Conn Igguldens fantastic historical novels about Julius Caesar and in particular the last book in that series which dealt with the aftermath of Caesar's brutal murder in the form of the retribution metred out to his murderers by Octavian/Augustus. An interesting fact is that none of the assailants died of natural causes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Approachable and informative, 19 Oct 2013
This review is from: Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Paperback)
Everitt provides a detailed narrative of Augusutus' life. It moves at pace, explores the other characters of the era and does a great job of recreating the feel of ancient Rome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 17 July 2013
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I found this biography to be amazing and is one drew me in completely. it is never dull and contains strong fact and sources along with a storyteller quality to make it the perfect blend of an educational book and historical fiction. Would recommend!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy, 28 Sep 2012
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I love the way that Anthony Everitt writes. Even people with a personal rather than professional interest in History can enjoy his books. Which are also well researched.

If you are interested in this period and this man (Augustus)This is a must read.
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Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor
Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt (Paperback - 13 Oct 2007)
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