This is one in the excellent Routledge History of the Ancient World series - these books are, one and all, an investment in excellence - scholarship, accessibility and information - though they are not, in general, one for a reader with no prior knowledge, they offer a very good outline of their period and the people involved, and they provide numerous resources for the reader to continue their studies.
So, this book specifically covers the Roman World in the period from 44 BC to AD 180 - from the assassination of Julius Caesar to the death of Marcus Aurelius. The book is divided into five main sections:
Part I: Introduction Sources and Problems The Roman world in 50BC
Part II: Elite politics The political language of Rome Caesar to Augustus 50 Bc - AD 14 Julio-Claudians AD 14-68 Civil War and Flavians AD 68-96 Nerva to Marcus Aurelius AD 96-180
Part II: The State Military Autocracy The operation of the State in Rome The operation of the State in the provinces The army in society The image of the Emperor The extent of political unity The extent of economic unity The extent of cultural unity
Part IV: Society Reactions to imperial rule The city of Rome: Social organisation The city of Rome: culture and life Italy and Sicily The Iberian Peninsula and the islands of the Western Mediterranean France and Britain The Rhineland and the Balkans Greece and the Aegean Coast Central and Eastern Turkey The Northern Levant and Mesopotamia The Southern Levant Egypt North Africa
Part V: Humans and gods Paganism Judaism Christianity
In under 400 pages (including notes, biobiographical notes and index), a tall order to cover all these aspects in great detail. However, the organisation of the book allows for the reader to study in a concise manner the particular area they are researching, or the topic of interest, and to move through the book in both a chronological and thematic manner. The bibliographical notes offer further suggestions for reading in the various sections, which is helpful, although this could definitely do with expansion, and updating.
The sections on the provinces are particularly helpful, giving a good overview of their status under the Roman World during the period, as well as geographical maps and maps which show the Roman provinces and their boundaries (as such). I found this particularly good for an understanding of the Roman world as a whole, and the areas of which it was made up during this period.
The author has written several books, particularly on aspects of Roman empire, and is an authoritative source of information. This book does exactly what it sets out to do, and in great and concise formatting and detail - it is a book I'm glad I purchased, and I refer to it often; this is the first time I've read it from cover to cover, and it won't be the last time I do so, I'm sure. Highly recommended.
Compact hence informative. The most important aspects of this period are coverd. It is written for academics but evean an amatour of ancient Roman world will deeply sink into the lecture of this book. Reccommend!