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Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (T) (Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588360806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588360809
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Product description

Review

'Just a note to say how much I enjoyed Anthony Everitt's Cicero, which I will certainly be choosing as my Book of the Year. I found it the most wonderfully written and perfectly paced book I've read (or reviewed) in ages. The way Everitt carefully and comprehensively unfolded the drama brought back the excitement of ancient history superbly. Congratulations on spotting a real winner."-Andrew Roberts, author of Napoleon and Wellington and Salisbury
"Anthony Everitt is a brilliant guide to the intricacies of Roman politics Everitt has written a book which is unobtrusively crammed with fascinating information about Roman life and customs, splendidly clear and coherent in its narrative and altogether convincing in its portraiture." -Sunday Independent (Dublin)
"We know more about Cicero than about almost any other figure of antiquity. We know so much about him, thanks to the happy chance which has seen so much of his correspondence preserved, that it is possible to write the sort of biography of Cicero that one might write about someone from, say, the nineteenth century. Anthony Everitt has done just that, sympathetically and very well. This is an engrossing book, written lucidly for the general reader, and one that only a foolish expert would disdain." -Allan Massie, Literary Review
"Of all the arts, that of politics has advanced least since the days of Greece and Rome. This week's new biography of Rome's most famous politician by Anthony Everitt tries to answer the question, why? Cicero mastered the essence of politics. He preached the difference between authority and power. He was an orator who wrote poetry, a politician who read history, ruthless yet able to articulate the demands of clemency, democracy and the rights of free men under law If good government is rooted in history and history in biography, Cicero is the man of the hour." -Simon Jenkins, The Times
"In the course of Cicero's long life, he made several powerful enemies, often through his own witty put-downs, and he was accused of everything from cowardice and self-importance to histrionics, homosexuality, and incest. But the great majority of his contemporaries - and of course posterity itself - were much kinder to Cicero, and this engrossing new biography by Anthony Everitt does a superb job of explaining why Cicero's political life forms the real backbone of this book As an explicator, Everitt is admirably informative and free from breathlessness. He has a sophisticated conception of character, too, including a willingness - so crucial in biographers - to embrace contradictions."-Independent on Sunday

"Mr. Everitt introduces the man graciously to a new generation, and will endear him anew to all those who never grasped the sense, let alone the beauty, of that multi-clausal prose." -The Economist
"Everitt is an attentive biographer who continuously rehearses and refines his account of the motives of his subject His achievement is to have replaced the austere classroom effigy with an altogether rounder, more awkward and human person." -Financial Times

" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

"All ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher combined."
--John Adams
He squared off against Caesar and was friends with young Brutus. He advised the legendary Pompey on his somewhat botched transition from military hero to politician. He lambasted Mark Antony and was master of the smear campaign, as feared for his wit as he was for exposing his opponents' sexual peccadilloes. Brilliant, voluble, cranky, a genius of political manipulation but also a true patriot and idealist, Cicero was Rome's most feared politician, one of the greatest lawyers and statesmen of all times. Machiavelli, Queen Elizabeth, John Adams and Winston Churchill all studied his example. No man has loomed larger in the political history of mankind.
In this dynamic and engaging biography, Anthony Everitt plunges us into the fascinating, scandal-ridden world of ancient Rome in its most glorious heyday. Accessible to us through his legendary speeches but also through an unrivaled collection of unguarded letters to his close friend Atticus, Cicero comes to life in these pages as a witty and cunning political operator.
Cicero leapt onto the public stage at twenty-six, came of age during Spartacus' famous revolt of the gladiators and presided over Roman law and politics for almost half a century. He foiled the legendary Catiline conspiracy, advised Pompey, the victorious general who brought the Middle East under Roman rule, and fought to mobilize the Senate against Caesar. He witnessed the conquest of Gaul, the civil war that followed and Caesar's dictatorship and assassination. Cicero was a legendary defender of freedom and a model, later, to French and Americanrevolutionaries who saw themselves as following in his footsteps in their resistance to tyranny.
Anthony Everitt's biography paints a caustic picture of Roman politics--where Senators were endlessly filibustering legislation, walking out, rigging the calendar and exposing one another's sexual escapades, real or imagined, to discredit their opponents. This was a time before slander and libel laws, and the stories--about dubious pardons, campaign finance scandals, widespread corruption, buying and rigging votes, wife-swapping, and so on--make the Lewinsky affair and the U.S. Congress seem chaste.
Cicero was a wily political operator. As a lawyer, he knew no equal. Boastful, often incapable of making up his mind, emotional enough to wander through the woods weeping when his beloved daughter died in childbirth, he emerges in these pages as intensely human, yet he was also the most eloquent and astute witness to the last days of Republican Rome.
On Cicero:
"He taught us how to think."
--Voltaire
"I tasted the beauties of language, I breathed the spirit of freedom, and I imbibed from his precepts and examples the public and private sense of a man."
--Edward Gibbon
"Who was Cicero: a great speaker or a demagogue?"
--Fidel Castro

"From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. It is well written and easy to access. The author knows his subject and has a very easy style. A good into to Cicero.
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Format: Hardcover
Anthony Everitt writes very accessible Roman history; his book on Augustus was very readable, and offers many opportunities for further study by anyone interested in following through on the themes raised in the book. Cicero is a fascinating character by anyone's standards; he pops up in all the Roman historical novels set in the late Republic, and everyone seems to have their own take on what he would have been like. So it is good to be able to get some historical non-fiction perspective on this intriguing man. Extricating Cicero's life, and his personal politics, from the broader (unresolved) discussion on the end of the Roman Republic is quite a challenge in itself, so I was eager to see how the author approached the life and times of Cicero.

Beginning with a prologue word picture of Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, the first chapter then outlines briefly and very clearly the political status of Rome at the time of Cicero's youth. The burgeoning political class struggles, the growing problem of land and wealth distribution, the unwieldy and increasingly violent political differences, and the external threats that built up towards the end of the Republic are well, though quickly, reviewed here. And then we are in to Cicero's life itself. Around and through Cicero's life move many other well-known figures of Roman history - Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, Catilina. Cicero also seems to have retained close ties with his family and friends, and we are lucky to have so much of his correspondence, including letters with his friend Atticus, and his writings on his cases and Senatorial involvement.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very well written biography of the great Roman orator, lawyer and statesman. I read this straight after finishing the final volume of Robert Harris's excellent trilogy of novels about his life. Cicero was at the centre of the great events of the middle part of the 1st century BC, the critical two decades which saw the demise of the Roman Republic whose values of (by the standards of the time, and sometimes more theoretical than practical) democracy, checks and balances and the rule of law he held so dear. As a principled pragmatist, he stood in mostly consistent opposition to the growing tendency towards one man rule in the times of Caesar, Pompey, Mark Antony and finally Octavian. His writings betray a humanism which is rare by the standards of his contemporaries. Many of his speeches, hundreds of his letters and a number of philosophical and political works survive and provide a rich trove of classical thought to which we should be indebted two millennia after their author lived and died. His final demise, hunted down and killed on the run by soldiers hired by Octavian, is ignominious, but his name rightly lived on and still does as one of the greatest and best figures of his time.
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Format: Hardcover
Anthony Everitt writes very accessible Roman history; his book on Augustus was very readable, and offers many opportunities for further study by anyone interested in following through on the themes raised in the book. Cicero is a fascinating character by anyone's standards; he pops up in all the Roman historical novels set in the late Republic, and everyone seems to have their own take on what he would have been like. So it is good to be able to get some historical non-fiction perspective on this intriguing man. Extricating Cicero's life, and his personal politics, from the broader (unresolved) discussion on the end of the Roman Republic is quite a challenge in itself, so I was eager to see how the author approached the life and times of Cicero.

Beginning with a prologue word picture of Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, the first chapter then outlines briefly and very clearly the political status of Rome at the time of Cicero's youth. The burgeoning political class struggles, the growing problem of land and wealth distribution, the unwieldy and increasingly violent political differences, and the external threats that built up towards the end of the Republic are well, though quickly, reviewed here. And then we are in to Cicero's life itself. Around and through Cicero's life move many other well-known figures of Roman history - Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, Catilina. Cicero also seems to have retained close ties with his family and friends, and we are lucky to have so much of his correspondence, including letters with his friend Atticus, and his writings on his cases and Senatorial involvement.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fairly good book that offers nothing really new: you get very solid overviews of how the government functioned, what people believed in, and how a major politician (and far better writer) tried to mold things in his own way. Alas, there is nothing whatsoever original in Everitt's interpretation, no provocative thesis based on new evidence (written or archaeological). So what you get, essentially, is the version that Cicero and a few of his contemporaries present of themselves, which is bound to be wrapped up in propaganda. As a classics major, I knew all of this already. There is no doubt that this is a good undergraduate-level panoramic view, but it does not make the man or his era come to life. You hear the details of Caesar's life, Cato's, Crassus', and Pompey's, but not intimately or in any sense living. It is too dryly scholarly for that.

Cicero was a conservative "new man", who wanted to preserve the Republic (and the institution that allowed him to rise from a local Voscan, i.e. non-Roman, aristocrat to the pinnacle of the Roman State). His entire career was shaped by this, though he made many compromises and was Caesar's client for quite a long time. He made one major early career move, squashing a conspiracy (Cataline's) that allowed executions and de-thrownings in certain circumstances, which would ultimately help to undermine the Republic. Then, very late in his career, he opposed Marc Anthony in the name of restoring the Republic and paradoxically supported the future dictator Octavian, only to lose his life in Anthony's revenge when Anthony cut a deal with Octavian. About all of this, Cicero wrote with unequalled elegance in Latin, much of which is quoted to very good effect in translation here. This is a great pleasure to read in Everitt's prose.
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