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on 17 March 2017
Excellent book
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on 5 June 2017
As described
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on 1 December 2009
I must agree with some of the other reviewers who note the annoying habit of Grant to use division, brigade and colonel instead of the Roman terms which of course are now in common use. Other than that Grant is an excellent translator, see for example his numerous other books on Roman history/Emperors. Thankfully, these terms are defined in an appendix.

This book by Tacitus much like his other "Histories" approaches the subject in the same way which varies considerably from the more light hearted approach of "Agricola and the Germania". However, unlike the Histories, Tacitus does not yet give the overwhelming impression of an Empire which is degrading and falling apart at the moral seams. This impression is present strongly throughout the Histories. Instead, in this fascinating journey through the times of Tiberius, Claudius and Nero extending from the dates: 14-66 AD we are presented not only with the lives of the Emperors but also some of the knights and senators who played a role in the affairs of the time. In addition, there are numerous excerpts about events which take place on the frontier e.g. the revolt in Germania and the revenge of the Teutoburger Forest disaster and remarkably enough a very interesting account of the Royal family and trouble on the Eastern frontier with Parthia.

I am always fascinated by Tacitus's ability to make the barbarians seem like Romans, they often have Roman names and Roman weaknesses such as greed and corruption, it brings them closer to the Romans as human beings rather than alienating them. Here again we are met with the bravery and courage of the ordinary Roman soldier much as it was described by Caesar in his Gaulish Wars. The legionary has lost none of his stalwartness and stoic characteristics e.g. "The Germans were as brave as our men ..." (p 86). Tacitus speaks glowingly of Germanicus and rather disparagingly of Tiberius who he considers an emperor lacking in moral fibre. It is interesting to note his favouritism for certain people such as Germanicus and to some degree Claudius and his strong bias against both Tiberius and Nero (who no doubt deserved this).

It too is unfortunate that some of his works were lost which of course interferes with the flow of the account and interrupts the reader's concentration. Nonetheless, Tacitus is a brilliant hostorian writing in an entertaining style, in spite of his bias, thereby describing the time well rather than presenting a series of facts lacking a sense of place and culture.

Excellent as usual.
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on 16 July 2001
Tacitus (ca 56-120) was not only great contemporary historian but the statesman who earned both consulship (AD 97) and governorship (AD 112). So he was uniquely positioned to give us the overview of the intricate behind the scene manoeuvering and back-stabbing of the Roman politics.

The "Annals" can not give the smooth account of historical events as some parts of the original book are missing. Nevertheless the book gives us superb picture of the life of Roman rulers with all the benefits and anxieties that come with the position.

The excellent translation of Mr Michael Grant makes the book easily readable.
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on 1 June 2002
For all the merits of Michael Grant as a sholar and translator, it is utterly unpalatable to refer to a Roman legion as a "brigade" or a "division"; to a centurion as "company commander" or "junior staff officer"; or to a pro-consul or a legate as "governor". If one wished to read about these positions, one would naturally read books on Generals Lee, Grant or Patton! This point has taken all the enjoyment out of reading a classical writer of the stature of Tacitus. I am now awaiting the publication of Professor A J Woodman's translation, due later this year, hoping that he will understand that anyone wishing to read the Annals would expect some faithfulness to the Latin terms..
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on 23 August 2015
5 stars for Tacitus and the seller. 2 for the translation. Refer to a Roman legion as a "brigade" or a "division", or to a centurion as "company commander" or "junior staff officer" at a lecture, you'll be a laughing stock. Even as a 16 year old with no formal education in classical antiquity, I know this. An excellent read, but an unpalatable translation.
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on 8 September 2002
This is a must for history students and buffs alike. In fact is is a great read full stop! Many books of this genre are dry but Tacitus takes you there and his commentary is both concise, and at times caustic and witty.
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on 24 September 2015
Doesn't break down chapters in the traditional way [I.E 12.2 etc] making it next to impossible to read / reference correctly.
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on 21 July 2014
Though I am no classicist, I have read quite a bit of original Greco-Roman history, from Thucydides to Cassius Dio, and I was looking forward to Tacitus, perhaps the most reputed Roman writer and Gibbon's favourite source. I fear however that part of Tacitus' reputation relies on his style, whose uniqueness gets lost in an English translation. Nor had I realised, firstly, that significant parts of the Annals are missing, and secondly that the book is in format a chronicle, not a history.

Covering the scandal-ridden years AD 14-66, the Annals takes the reader through the reign of Tiberius, the last years of Claudius, and most of Nero. The reign of Caligula, the early Claudius years, and the last of Nero are missing, and one must turn to Suetonius for that. That, with a few exceptions, Tacitus chose to tell his story year by year, or consulship by consulship, is meanwhile no-doubt invaluable to historians, but it makes the book more difficult to follow and less coherent to the general reader. The Annals do have an overarching theme, namely the corruption of absolute power, both among those at the top and among courtiers and aspirants. Yet as an account they are burdened with countless obscure affairs whose protagonists are hard to recognise, and by the marches and counter-marches of military campaigns whose significance is not always established. By contrast, though Thucydides also follows a loosely year-by-year structure, I found his narrative far more absorbing. I am thus only giving the Annals - shockingly, I know - four stars. At the same time, this is well worth reading and is filled with engrossing reading, such as the Germanicus campaigns or Nero's ruthless assumption of total power. And I am turning to the Tacitus Histories, covering the years AD 69-96, with unabated eagerness and anticipation.
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on 22 July 2012
This is pure literary gold and fascinating, if perhaps one-sided, history as well.

Tacitus takes us on an historical walk through the period of Roman history from Emperor Augustus to the death of Emperor Nero ((AD14 to AD 68). Apart from Augustus, this covers the emperors Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. You can get the same period of history and more form Suetonius' "The Twelve Caesars" but Tacitus is a more engaging writer and seems to have access to better source material (probably the Roman Senate records or Acta Senatus).

As well as providing an excellent historical overview of a very dramatic period in Roman history, Tacitus adds a lot of colour and is unafraid of dishing the dirt on corruption, sexual foibles and scandals, family squabbles and suggestions of imperial skullduggery and murder. How much of this is true is probably not knowable but it makes for great reading.

Tacitus is a clear writer and whilst inevitably there is detail here that is meaningless to the modern casual reader, this work overall is a thrill ride not to be missed. However, if you really can't face the idea of reading the source material but want to work through the history then try Robert Graves' books I Claudius and Claudius the God, which are effectively tidied up versions of Tacitus told as a story, and brilliantly done as well.
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