Around 4,000 words have come down to us through history about Spartacus. That's all. Given this tiny amount of original material, I think it's incredible how much the western world knows about him. For nearly a century and a half, countless books and films have been produced about him. There have even been stage plays and ballets. Most iconic of them all of course was the 1950s Howard Fast novel, and the film which arose from it, starring Kirk Douglas. More recently, there have been TV miniseries, most notably the blood 'n' guts 'n' sex Blood And Sand, which makes for compelling viewing but plays extremely fast and loose with the history (even more than the Douglas film).
For anyone who is interested in Spartacus and what he did, and wants to know more than they've seen in screen representations of the man, I recommend this slim yet excellent volume by Brent Shaw, of the University of Pennsylvania in the USA. It contains every little scrap of information about Spartacus that is known of, even when it's only a sentence or two. It also gives accounts and the records of the two largescale slave uprisings on Sicily. These took place about 60 and about 30 years before Spartacus' own rebellion, and may well have helped to inspire him, and the tens of thousands of men who joined him. As one of the other reviewers has noted, there is also an excellent bibliography.
It is quite shocking to see how little there exists regarding primary source materials for the story of Spartacus - this brief book provides good coverage of that which exists and includes an interesting aside relating to the slave wars in Scicily. However, unless you are a Spartacus buff this will not appeal and if you are one of those thristing for more information you will enjoy the text but still be left with a feeling of wanting more!
If you're genuinely interested in Spartacus then buy this book if only for a bibliography. Scholars praise it, so does anyone else attempting to write about the subject matter - and that's good enough.
Remember, Rome wasn't happy with what the slave General did to their reputation and it was a huge problem between 71-73 BC - and that's why there is little volume regarding primary sources.
One of the more important books on the slave wars and the Thracian gladiator.
Simon Casson (co-author, Riding The Outlaw Trail in the Footsteps of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid)