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The Conquest of Gaul (Classics) Paperback – 9 Dec 1982

4.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (9 Dec. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444339
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Gaius Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC into an ancient patrician family. Much of his life was spent on military campaigns, & he returned to govern Rome as dictator. His dictatorship was declared perpetual in 44 BC, but his many bitter enemies hatched a conspiracy & assasinated him later that year. S. Handford translated a number of authors for Penguin, including Sallust and Aesop.


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4.4 out of 5 stars
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By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a great fan of Caesar, I loved this. It's surprisingly enthralling once you get into it, but takes a bit of work to start, especially if you're not familiar with the setting and political background.

Originally written as a series of despatches to the Senate back in Rome, it is undoubtedly propaganda created by Caesar to justify his own conquests, and make sly digs at his enemies back in Rome.

Starting with his departure from Rome in 58bc after his consulship, this takes in the battles against the rebellion under Vercongetorix as well as the abortive first invasion of Britain.

It might not be to everyone's taste, but I think Caesar's an elegant and lucid writer who uses understatement as a style factor.

The Penguin volume is excellent, with an easy, free-flowing translations, an introduction outlining the background, a glossary of people and terms, and maps of Gaul. Altogether, a bargain.
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I really enjoyed this translation of Julius Caesar's account of his wars against the Gauls a lot more than the original Latin version. Maybe it's because I'm more comfortable with English than Latin..... Room for improvement: I would have liked a few more explanatory notes here and there and maybe a couple of maps of the areas of the campaigns.
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This is a remarkable document. It is at once a manual on military strategy, on effective management of his troops, and on the psychology of the enemy. But it is also a history, with smatterings of anthropology, sometimes our only source on a vanished pre-Roman way of life in what became France. Finally, and most difficult to grasp, there is a political subtext, in which Caesar is communicating with both allies and rivals in Rome, advancing his career while advising future leaders on proper conduct. Why did he mention certain things? What did he omit? What political image (or self-consciously enduring myth) was he creating for himself? There are few antique documents as fascinating and to boot it is a literary masterpiece of clear exposition and rapidly moving narrative. Once you read it - and it must be read carefully and with references to other sources - you will have no doubt that Caesar was one of the greatest leaders of all time: afterall, his name is the basis for Tzar as well as Kaiser!

Then there are the details. What stick out in my mind are individual tales of bravery as well as foolishness, rendered in detail as vivid as a novel, and the ever-present possibility of failure or even disaster from which Caesar always manages to pull victory at the decisive moment; of course, there are the many instances of brutality in a time of different standards of military conduct. Then there is the siege of Alesia. To protect his troops and starve out the enemy (and the charismatic Gaul, Vercingetorix), Caesar at Alesia had in a matter of days not only to build a surrounding rampart facing in, but also one facing outwards (14 miles in curcumference!), to ward off the last-stand of the bravest of the Gauls.
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Ceasers Conquest of Gaul is a readable account of the early years of the French Tribes struggle with the armies of the Roman conquest. Has maps of some of the major battles that are easily understood and clarified. A very good book for the general background of his attacks. That a reader of historic fiction would find useful in understanding this complex period as it is a translation from the original.
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Very interesting and will probably make you look a bit intelligent :) for lovers of the tv series ROME there is a mention of Vorenus and Pullo in here but don't get excited it is just a mention. The words of Julius Caesar himself. A master of PR.
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Caesar's Commentaries as they were suposed to be seen contrast markedly with say the "Histories" of Tacitus. How strong is this constrast, well we will see. But first, Caesar's Gallic wars covers his years as Consul and the gradual conquest of the lands known today as France, Belgium, Holland and the western parts of Germany. The book itself never mentions any of the political infighting taking place both in the Senate itself and among the enemies and friends of Caesar. Many things stand out in the history itself such as Caesar's advanced age before he started his conquests, given his birth in 100 BC and the start of the Gallic consulship in 58 BC Caesar was aready 42 years old. Interesting as well, is Caesar's insistence on the use of the third person to comment on the subsequent wars, and then even more surprising the change to first person in a very few instances to make a point. No doubt this is a device often invoked at the time to try to ensure impartiality or some fashionable way of writing. Certainly these commentaries were intended to be read by military and senatorial leaders on the way to wage war in Gaul and for that matter maybe even in Germany.

Now we come to the fascinating contrasts with Tacitus's "Histories" for example. Somehow, in the intervening time between the conquests of Caesar and the year of the four emperors, about 100 years, much had changed. Not only in the style of writing itself but in the way both Roman and foreign society was envisaged in Roman eyes. Nowhere except in a very few occasions did Caesar mention that his men needed encouragement for the fight, or lacked bravery.
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