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Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor Paperback – 4 Mar 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844135276
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844135271
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 329,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A compendious and thought-provoking study" (Boris Johnson The Mail on Sunday)

"Impressively well-researched and unfailingly engaging" (John Dillon The Irish Times)

"McLynn has written a huge, erudite survey of the social, cultural, economic and political world of the second century AD rather than a mere biography of Marcus Aurelius...there is much to enjoy here and even more to be learned" (Literary Review)

"By exposing the real Marcus Aurelius, this biography illuminates an important era of transition...it was under Marcus that the delicate balance was disturbed and this, too, is his legacy." (Martin Empson TLS)

"A flickering torch in the darkness, and with his fine biography, Frank McLynn tends the flame." (Stephen McGinty Scotsman)

Review

`If you like your history feisty... McLynn is the man for you... it certainly makes for a terrific read.'
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book has great strengths but one can't ignore its defects.

Still, let's begin with the strengths because the author deserves much credit. As well as giving a good, clear account of the life of Marcus Aurelius he goes out of his way to put that life in context by frequently stopping to explain various features of the economic, social, political and military world within which Marcus Aurelius operated. This is highly welcome. Those long, contextual sections, combined with the analytical chapter at the end, helped to give me a great deal more insight into the Roman Empire than I was expecting. McLynn also does a good job of keeping a complex cast of characters and story moving along without it getting too confusing. I got completely absorbed.

The most significant problem, to my mind, comes with the analysis of Stoicism. Within the body of the book, McLynn is forever tearing a strip off Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus for their inconsistencies and gaps. He knows very well that Aurelius was writing a private journal for his own edification, head-clearing and analysis and that Epictetus did not even 'write' his books since they are basically collections of lecture notes - and, in the case of the Enchiridion, merely extracts from them - made by one of his pupils. Now, if a student of mine wrote down my lecture notes and published them in a book without my having a chance to edit them I'm pretty sure there would be a lot of gaps and probably some inconsistencies. It's not that Epictetus can't be criticised; I can easily do so myself. It's just that on this basis McLynn's criticisms of the extant writings of both Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus seem harsh to put it mildly. It was like reading something by Victor Meldrew when he's had too many cups of coffee.
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Format: Paperback
Frank McLynn is an author that you either love or hate. He is very opinionated, self-satisfied, and confident in his opinions and he likes nothing better than to dismiss other author's works as being wrong. He also likes to use large words and complicated sentences. Normally that last wouldn't bother me, but I'm a fast reader and when you have to spend ages on every page since each sentence is so convoluted it becomes problematic. Not everyone will have problems with this. It encourages you to take your time so if you enjoy really savoring a book then you might prefer it this way. McLynn isn't an expert in this field. I think he likes it that way since he's written most of his books in fields he isn't an expert in. Personally, I think he feels he has something to prove but whatever it is he does research the periods he writes about well. Along the same line he also has a tendency to include comparisons to somewhat obscure historical figures that many of his readers will not recognize. It seems to fall under his desire to prove how smart he is. I'm sure that there could be another explanation for all of his writing quirks but that is the way that I interpret them.

Now onto the book. First off this is a really big book. I know that you can see that by just looking at the page numbers on this site but you don't always appreciate that till you see it. I think that each one of his books gets bigger and bigger, which is a shame since I prefer some of his shorter writings like 1066: The Year of the Three Battles. Now I'm not intimidated by a book's size but this one can be a chore.
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Format: Hardcover
Frank McLynn is an author that you either love or hate. He is very opinionated, self-satisfied, and confident in his opinions and he likes nothing better than to dismiss other author's works as being wrong. He also likes to use large words and complicated sentences. Normally that last wouldn't bother me, but I'm a fast reader and when you have to spend ages on every page since each sentence is so convoluted it becomes problematic. Not everyone will have problems with this. It encourages you to take your time so if you enjoy really savoring a book then you might prefer it this way. McLynn isn't an expert in this field. I think he likes it that way since he's written most of his books in fields he isn't an expert in. Personally, I think he feels he has something to prove but whatever it is he does research the periods he writes about well. Along the same line he also has a tendency to include comparisons to somewhat obscure historical figures that many of his readers will not recognize. It seems to fall under his desire to prove how smart he is. I'm sure that there could be another explanation for all of his writing quirks but that is the way that I interpret them.

Now onto the book. First off this is a really big book. I know that you can see that by just looking at the page numbers on this site but you don't always appreciate that till you see it. I think that each one of his books gets bigger and bigger, which is a shame since I prefer some of his shorter writings like 1066: The Year of The Three Battles. Now I'm not intimidated by a book's size but this one can be a chore.
Read more ›
1 Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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