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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of John Williams 3 masterpieces, this is the best.
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...
Published 19 months ago by Dw Marshall

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2.0 out of 5 stars Well written but hard going
I got this because I quite like ancient history & everyone was raving about it. It was very well written, succinct & almost poetic. I did find the different voices very authentic (from what I remember from my A level Latin). But there were parts that (presumably deliberately) sounded like they were directly translated from Latin in the style of older translations e.g...
Published 1 month ago by Shan


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a word wasted. I enjoyed it from beginning to end, 14 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Not a word wasted. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. A compelling recreation of Augustus the man - similar to Mantel's recreation of Cromwell in its perceptive look at what facts are remaining. The final letter from Augustus to Nicolas is so percepive and has so many quotable lines relevant to ones own life that I found myself stopping - re reading - thinking it through. This is rare for me from any book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Citizen Augustus, 11 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
John William's Augustus is the Citizen Kane of historical novels. Rather than telling the story through one single character, like the Emperor or his daughter, or even his servant, as Robert Graves might, Williams chose the mosaic approach. The action progresses throughout the accounts of a number of actors directly or indirectly involved. This is no mean feat.it involves learning a great deal more history than usual, and a writing skill to convey so many different voices.

Yet he succeeds brilliantly and the book is a classic of 20th Century writing. John Williams spent his life teaching, and wrote only 4 books. This makes Augustus stand out even more - it is clearly a labour of love. Only in the last section do we hear the voice of Augustus, on his dying voyage to Capri. The enigmatic ruler makes himself clear, and it is certain the Williams revelation of the wise, pragmatic and accomplished Augustus lifts the book to great heights.

Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History as you have never read it before., 26 April 2015
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
An exceptional feat of writing. It seems inconceivable that one's attention could be held by a series of fictitious letters written by Romans who lived in the 50 years following the assassination of Julius Caesar. Yet, Williams achieves this and more. At it's simplest, this novel depicts the life of Augustus Caesar as he ruthlessly and then brilliantly restores Rome to her former glories. At a deeper level, the book deals with political intrigue at the highest level, every human relationship, the ultimate pitfalls of wealth and power and a perceptive overview of love. Along the way, Williams incorporates the philosophy of the contemporaneous Roman poets. The passage which seeks to define different manifestations of love is masterly, in particular when he deals with non physical love between men. I am thrilled to have discovered Williams whom I consider to be a writer who compares favourably with the very best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I was looking for., 11 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
When I bought this book I had certain expectations of it, and it has not disappointed in any way, thus the five stars!
The novel is written in an epistolary format, i.e. told through letters and diary entries rather than a straight narrative. This makes the book feel much more like a genuine article, as it gives you a constantly hopping view of what is going on so that you can see the action from all angles. One should be warned, however, that the book does not entirely adhere to historical accuracy; it is historical fiction, not fact! While the majority of events that take place are true, a few have been fabricated or rearranged in terms of chronological order for the sake of entertainment. However, the overall historical tale remains intact well enough, and it is still a fascinating read, and a well researched insight into the natures of those that came before.
A great read, 5/5, highly reccommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting man, 9 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
As beautifully written as Stoner, showing the same insight into characters (human nature), this is another portrait of a man, this time a great one, who managed to remain more or less uncorrupted by the power he gained. It was a fascinating and, at times, sad read and ended on a note of terrible irony (supposedly written by Philippus of Athens to Senaca in AD 55): ‘Yet the Empire of Rome that he [Augustus] created has endured the harshness of a Tiberius, the monstrous cruelty of a Caligula, and the ineptness of a Claudius. And now our new Emperor is one whom you tutored as a boy, and to whom you remain close in his new authority; let us be thankful for the fact that he will rule in the light of your wisdom and virtue, and let us pray to the gods that, under Nero, Rome will at last fulfil the dream of Octavius Caesar’. Sadly, of course, from history we know that it didn’t and that Nero was a monster.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally and intellectually satisfying, 19 July 2014
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
At first I just admired the skill and confidence with which Williams 'assembled' this book, but the further I got, the more I came to love it. The device of using fragments and letters as if the author was about to begin a formal autobiography of his subject works incredibly well, allowing the story to unfold from multiple viewpoints and flit between the gossipy and the formal. As a huge fan of I, Claudius, it's hard to read Williams' version of events and not see Livia's conniving hand behind the murders that perforate Augustus' reign, and this feels like a perfect companion to Graves' Claudius novels. It also shared something (beyond the ancient Roman backdrop) with Kit Hudson's Seventh Season, and it was only when I read the epilogue of Augustus (don't want to give anything away here) that I made the connection with Hudson's work. A stunning achievement that delights as much as it impresses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A companion piece to Graves's 'Claudius' novels and Vidal's 'Julian', 1 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
A well written and researched historical novel that will appeal to readers interested in the period and circle of the first Roman emperor.
Unusual style, written as letters and memoirs of the principal characters and commentators, which fit together rather well.
Rather a lot of repeated typographical errors in the digital version, e.g. Jullus Antonius v Julius Antonius although this did not detract.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read up to a point, 12 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written - A compulsive read, 19 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
If you enjoyed Stoner then there is no guarantee that you will like this. It is completely different in style and subject matter but like Stoner is beautifully written. I picked Augustus up having read Stoner and really liking it I thought I would give this a try. I preferred Augustus and found it hard to put down. I always ended up reading for longer than I had time for as I became so absorbed in the characters, their complicated lives and the ruthless times they lived in. I had thought the style of the novel, which unfolds as a series of letters and journals, would be disjointed but it works extremely well and the various voices are completely believable. I highly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem, 29 July 2014
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This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
Having a fondness for all things roman and relating to the transition between republic and empire; I was drawn to this book. It is a fascinating fictionalised account of the life of Octavius provided by the thoughts and words of those who accompanied him on his journey and development. Cleverly conceived and beautifully written a joy to read. Importantly - it would be a valuable addition to the library of anyone who feels that they already know the subject matter well. To those who just want to read excellent prose and lose themselves in a book, immerse yourselves in a writer who is at the height of his powers. I must now turn my attentions to his other works.
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Augustus: A Novel
Augustus: A Novel by John Williams
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