on 20 January 2002
...The book reads quite like a textbook, but contains many interesting facts and hypotheses as posed by scholars. His views are fairly even-handed and he presents all sides equally, and in a well written prose. If you are getting this, you must get the companion too, as this often provides graphical representations as well. An Excellent book. There are a few places, for example the propaganda issue, where not all topics are covered in as complete a detail as possible, but the book is great for students for material, and references.
on 12 April 2009
An absolutely amazing book, valuable for anyone who is passionate about the classics, the Ancient Roman world or just about learning something new and interesting. Fantastically written, really really interesting, basically there just aren't enough words to describe how damned good this book really is.
And, as an added bonus, the glue they use for putting the paper into the spine smells really good, if you like......smelling.....new........books......
on 28 February 2015
This book does not, as the description states "trace(s) the rise of Rome from its origins as a cluster of villages to the foundation of the Empire and its consolidation in the first two centuries CE ". It is instead a collection of essays, not exactly forming a chronological or thematic whole which discusses from various perspectives, the Roman world in that era. The essays presuppose at least some knowledge of the Roman world since references to people, places and events abound, and are far too numerous to be entered into with any specificity. It is up to the reader to have some advance understanding of the broader context into which people and events are discussed. Chapter 4, for example, looking at the decline of the Republic points to the fall of Carthage, Rome's most formidable foe as a possible cause of moral and ethical laxity. This is told in passing and only a cursory prior reference to Carthage is made, and little comment thereafter! We should know in advance that Sulley was a dictator at that time, though we are given no other clue regarding his rise nor rule. I could imagine the individual essays being used in adjunct to history classes, where appropriate, but I have a hard time placing where this text, exactly, belongs, for the average reader. I suppose for someone who knows the narrative, who's done their reading in the history, these essays could provide a bit more granularity, and do not need to be read as a whole, but rather approached chapter by chapter, as interest dictates. A look at the table of contents will help clarify what I mean. For the reader interested in a general history of Rome and the Roman world who may not have a very strong background in the subject matter, I doubt very much that this is a good place to start.