Caesar: Politician and Statesman Paperback – 1 Jul 1985
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No one interested in history should lack this thoroughly documented masterwork, the culmination of forty years of scholarship devoted to the last days of the Roman Republic.
The book which students of Roman history have needed...a book which at every point gives access to the ancient sources. It is a wise book, written by one of the wisest of Roman historians.
About the Author
Peter Needham taught Classics at Eton for over 30 years. He has also translated Paddington Bear into Latin, 'Ursus Nomine Paddington.' He lives in Slough, in England.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gelzer's book is a classic on everyone's list. First published in German in 1921, Gelzer labored and rewrote it over half a century, reading and rethinking all the time. It was finally translated into English in the 1960's. As he modestly concludes, "Much has been written about Caesar. The appearance of despotic rulers [Stalin, Hitler] of quite a different stamp has not always been favourable to the judgment passed on him. A fresh study of the sources has, on the whole, convinced me of the correctness of my interpretation." Gelzer makes those sources lucid, explaining contradictions, noting where a history is political rather than factual, smoothing out inconsistencies and providing copious notes for the reader who wants to learn more. There is a clarity and precision to his writing that is oddly restful, yet continually interesting, for which we must thank the readable translation by Peter Needham.
In recent years, it has become fashionable to dismiss Caesar as a power-hungry megalomaniac, to psychoanlyze him, to portray him from every vantage point; but no one can deny his genius. Gelzer, unlike some modern biographers of Caesar, never strays from the facts; his thoughtful and precise narrative of every scintilla of truth remaining to us, takes you as close to the man as you are ever likely to get. About the true nature of Julius Caesar, every thinking reader must make up his own mind. Gelzer will give you the best tools to do so, while painting an unforgettable portrait of the failing Roman Republic.
or Julius Caesar, this book is for you. I first read Anthony
Everitt's Cicero (which I liked) and it's brief discussions of
Caesar were enough to pique my interest in further study of Caesar.
After researching a bit, Gelzer's biography seemed to be the most
lauded- and having read it- rightly so.
The level of detail in this book is incredible. There are
hundreds of footnotes indicating sources and often containing
quotes in their original language which is as often Greek as it
is Latin. Gelzer really shows us the genius and abilities of
this most fascinating man- perhaps the boldest, most brilliant
military commander in history- not to mention an equally talented
politician! Caesar deserves our attention.
If you can handle great detail and really want to know Caesar and his times, you will like this book.
I read this book as part of a degree course and, although I don't necessarily agree with everything he has to say, all of it is interesting and worthy of, at least, discussion.
I would rate this book far higher than the book on Caesar by Christian Meier, but Meier's book has some interesting points that Gelzer does not. Overall though, for a book on the life of Caesar, Gelzer is the best to be found at the moment.
I've read no other work that measures up to Gelzer's biography of Rome's greatest citizen. His inspirational definition of what it is to be a politician versus that of Statesmanship is forever etched in my mind.
Those seeking contemporary pseudo-psychology, 'opinions and soundbites' need to look elsewhere as this is not Plutarch at his most irritating. A perfect counter-balance to the anecdotal and condensed approach of Plutarch.
Definitive and unsurpassed in its authority.