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Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic

4.6 out of 5 stars 149 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Library Binding: 408 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1435292316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435292314
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,407,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Holland has the rare gift of making deep scholarship accessible and exciting. A brilliant and completely absorbing study (A. N. Wilson, author of The Victorians)

This is the best one-volume narrative history of the Rome between King Tarquin and Emperor Augustus I have ever read. The story of Rome's experiment with republicanism - peopled by such giants as Caesar, Pompey, Cato and Cicero - is told with perfect fre (Andrew Roberts)

A modern, well-paced and finely observed history which entertains as it informs (Observer)

Explosive stuff ... a seriously intelligent history ... [written] with élan and gusto ... It is a history for our times ... Wickedly enjoyable (Peter Jones, BBC History Magazine) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

* An accessible and exciting narrative history of the final 100 years of the Republic. Fascinating and thrilling, it's international politics as played out by the sopranos. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Holland's narrative style means that even those with little, or no, previous knowledge of Roman history can soon find themselves totally engrossed, and enriched, by the story of the Republic's rise and fall.
It is not just the people and personalities that come to life in this book, but the nature of Rome itself. The reader is not just taken on a journey through the personal aspirations of each player, but through the mindset and aspirations of Rome as a whole.
Holland is not afraid to include the small details, such as salacious gossip of the time, which helps to add to the colour and vibrancy and brings the ancient city back to life. While the violence can appear as a bloody reminder of how far civilisation may have moved on, the political machinations have a far more familiar ring to them.
The book is littered with reminders of how much today's society has taken from, and owes to, Roman times. However, this is not done in a preachy pointed manner, rather the evidence is there for the reader to pick up on, and judge for themselves.
The main historical figures of the time, Cicero, Caesar, Pompey, etc, are the main focus of each section. Rubicon allows us to see the interaction and the power play between each of them. As the story of the alliances, oppositions and betrayals unfolds, the urge to keep reading is immense.
The book refers back to previous events in chapters, which serves to reinforce the readers understanding of events. There are maps that help to explain where places are, and their relation to Rome at the time.
Obviously, covering such a vast amount of time, and such an array of people, means that the book can only really scratch the surface of the period it covers.
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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 July 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is rare that you come across a history book which is suitable for both readers who know a fair amount about the subject and also for those who know virtually nothing, but this is one of those very unusual books. To be fair, most people know something about the Roman Empire, but this book fleshes out historical characters that may be just ‘names’ and puts them in context.

The book begins with Julius Caesar about to take the supreme gamble of ‘Crossing the Rubicon,’ and then backtracks to show the reader why that was such an immense step to take. There is much about the establishment of the Republic, as far back as 509 BC, before explaining the importance of the Republic to Romans. As Cicero once stated, “The fruit of too much liberty is slavery,” and so, as the book unfolds, we hear of how the almost religious sense of community felt by Roman citizens and of politics and power in the history of Rome.

This book is full of famous names and events. Civil wars, assassinations, ancient patrician families, prestige and politics abound. As the book progresses we read of Sulla, Marius, Pompey and Crassus. Much of the bulk of the book tells the story of Julius Caesar – the young man of nineteen who was forced to flee Rome and who then stood on the threshold of history on the Rubicon. Cleopatra, Antony and Octavian all exist here, in a readable and understandable form. In fact, the author cleverly uses modern titles and sub-titles to help us understand the context of events – so you read, “The Winner Takes it All,” “Luck Be a Lady,” or “Blitzkrieg,” and know exactly where the author is expertly leading us..

“Rubicon,” covers a vast time period and a huge cast of characters.
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Format: Hardcover
The above is a quote from Cicero. High praise indeed, for he mostly thought that any place which wasn't Rome was "squalid obscurity." But, as Tom Holland points out, most Romans thought of Alexandria as the one city that could compete with Rome as the centre of the world. Alexandria was the first city ever to have numbered addresses. It also had slot machines and automatic doors. Perhaps most importantly for the Romans it contained two other things: the tomb of Alexander The Great and the greatest library in the world. The library "boasted seven hundred thousand scrolls and had been built in pursuit of a sublime fantasy: that every book ever written might be gathered in one place." Mr. Holland's book is very good for several reasons. Firstly, it is well-written - both in terms of style (he has a background as a novelist) and also because it is written in the language of today rather than the language of 2,000 years ago. That statement may offend purists. If it does, I'm sorry, but I'm just being honest. For someone who is not a classical scholar, like myself, it makes the material much easier to read. The book is also good because Mr. Holland doesn't just describe historical events - he also gets into the Roman psyche and culture. Thus, we learn of the inherent conservatism of the Romans, which was always in conflict with ambition and ego. Men such as Sulla and Pompey, when implementing changes, always made an attempt to justify their actions by saying they were really trying to turn back the clock - that other people had disregarded precedent and they were only trying to restore tradition. We learn how important public service was to the Romans. You were frowned upon if you retired to the country and tried to live a life of idle pleasure.Read more ›
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