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on 28 April 2003
I had looked forward to receiving this book eagerly and in no way did it disappoint. Scarre's analysis goes into intricate depth and his ability to question the biases of some of the historians of the day is something which he can take real credit for.
Starting with Augustus, you journey through the ups and downs of the Roman Empire in startling detail, comprehensive accounts are given of each Emperor and dynasty, right through to the 5th century AD.
From this we are easily able to understand each Emperor at an individual level. Those that greatly forwarded the fortunes of the empire, the forgotten Emperors who ruled only briefly as well as the monsters and megalomaniacs!
I found this to be a thoroughly informative and gripping account.
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on 26 August 2004
First of all this is one of the best books you can get for this subject, in terms being accurate and straight to the point, giving plenty of detail and not over doing it. This then not only makes it a exciting and educational read but also makes it a good reference guide. All in all ane of the best book on the roman emperors you can get. An excelent job.
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Dr. Scarre has written an excellent review of the lives of the most powerful men of Imperial Rome. Chronologically, with linking time lines he introduces the reader to the men behind the torsos and coins which are often all that is left of their reign. The illustrations are well chosen and relevant to each subject and I particularly liked the contemporaneous quotes and the way they are explained in context. The book is well laid out and suitable for simply reading through or for reference. The prose is scholarly and accessible. The book has a useful bibliography for those that want to take their interest further. In these days of computers and easy travel, I would like to have seen a list of website addresses of museums relevant to the subjects and some maps linked to each emperor indicating archeological sites where they had left their mark. Could this be the next book? Highly recommended.
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on 27 March 2008
This book is easily the most accessible and readable title on the Roman Emperors. It provides short biographies of the rulers of Rome from Augustus Caesar in 30 BC, right through to the fall of the Western Empire and the reign of Romulus Augustulus in AD 476.

The book is really well illustrated, with plenty of photographs of busts, coins and cameos, giving you an idea of the apperance of each emperor. The book also contains a few colour illustrations showing the architecture of the Imperial Palaces or the Colosseum. There are 328 illustrations, 111 of which are in colour.

What makes this book a worthy purchase is the sheer wealth of facts on each page. For instance, there is an addition of a timeline - This allows you to put the lives of the Emperors into the context of the period. The addition of family trees, information tables on the titles and achievements of each emperor and the addition of colour maps give you an even greater appreciation of the book. This title also has several sections which look at the art and architecture of the Roman Empire, from the Colosseum to Trajan's column, the city of Palmyra and the Palace of Diocletian and much, much more.

What I found very interesting were the biographies on the lesser known emperors, such as Florianus, Tacitus, Probus and Gordian III. These are rarely mentioned in history books, so it was great to read about these murky figures along with the biographies of more famous figures such as Augustus, Nero and Caligula.

My only complaint is that the later Roman emperors are not significantly covered. All the rulers from Constantine I onward are mentioned in just under eight pages. This is a shame as there were genuinely interesting figures from this period, including Julian the Apostate, Honorius, Theodosius the Great and Valens. It's a bit of a missed opportunity considering that some lesser emperors are given much more space, even if they only ruled for a few weeks.

Despite this small flaw, the book deserves a spot on the shelf of anyone with an interest in Ancient Rome or Classical Civilisation.
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For anyone with even a passing interest in Roman history this book is an invaluable source of knowledge about the Roman Emperor's. Personally it helps to set the scene for me even if the book is a work of fiction if I can pin point the period of Roman history that is being written about and knowing what emperor was reigning in Rome and in what years is a sure fire way of pin-pointing the period in which the book is written.

Of course the book is so much more than a time scale of Roman history, there is also information regarding what wars if any were fought during a particular emperor's reign and what Roman building were attributable to any given emperor. The book covers the succession of 80 emperors, with biographical portraits of the 56 most notable ones. Names that leap out from the pages of the history books, Julius Caesar, Hadrian, Nero, all names to conjure with.

There are contemporary judgements made by writers of the time including Suetonius and Tacitus and these are balanced by character assessments made in the light of modern research. This is a book that is well worth having, not only for its reference capabilities but also it is a good read in its own right.
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The second in this series, covering the history of Rome from Augustus (31 BC) to the eastern and western emperors of the 6th century AD. Richly illustrated throughout, this covers the life of each ruler and really brings the era to life. An excellent and very readable book.
One of the useful aspects for me was being able to put a name and a face to those who initiated the construction of the many buildings we lump together as 'built by the Romans'. Who was this Caracalla who had the famous baths constructed in Rome and what was life like then? And why did Nerva build a forum?
Lots of info also on events within the empire at this time: Masada; the defeat of Zenobia; the Goths...
For earlier information on Rome see 'Chronicle of the Roman Republic' covering Romulus-Octavian (750 BC- 14 AD)
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on 17 November 2015
Brilliant book which covers all the reigns of the Roman Emperors from Augustus to the last Emperor of the West, Romulus Augustulus. This is an invaluable book which has all the Emperor's together. Their are other books out their which covers a certain Dynasty or books like Matthew Dennison's the Twelve Caesars, but this covers all them all together and is a great Primer for people who wish to learn and study more about the Roman Emperors.The Roman Emperor's are quite well covered by biography's but this has information on the lesser known Emperors like Galba, Otho and Vitellius, not detailed but it's their (Dennison's book covers these reigns very well and i'd recommend it for that) the myriad of Emperors in the Troubled 3rd Century, the Competing warring Emperors after Diocleitian's Abdication and the Latter Emperor's after Constantine I "The Great's" death, though in these latter Emperors case very thinly in a few pages. It also has information on more famous through criminally under covered Emperors like Antonius Pius, Commodus, Caracalla, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. There has been a Biography recently released on Commodus by John S. McHugha and about time too, and 2 recent ones on Elagabalus one of which I have read by Martijn Icks which I wasn't keen on, but none in English on Caracalla an Emperor i'm fascinated by which is criminal. The coverage of the reigns relies heavily on the Roman Historian's with their own agenda's this is a very minor flaw when Modern Historical thought Questions the absolute facts of these accounts. The book through is a very easy read. I've owned this since 2002 and read through numerous times in delight. Their are good side bits of information relating to the Emperors as with the other Chronicle books in the Thames and Hudson series and good pictures. So all in all a brilliant book for those that wish to start to learn more about the Roman Emperors, and this is my favorite of the Chronicle series followed by Chronicle of the Russian Tsars, highly recommended.
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on 30 September 2013
For any non-expert wanting a concise, readable and comprehensive guide to the emperors, I don't see how this could be bettered. It does exactly what its title promises.
Having watched the recent TV re-run of "I Claudius", I decided I needed the real facts, as opposed to what was, after all, a novel adapted for TV. Having scanned Amazon's many offerings, I went for this book and also Suetonius "12 Caesars".
Tip - if you are a non-expert wanting the facts (as far as we can know them), choose Scarre. Suetonius is great as a classic work, and you should read it, but for an unbiased modern view, and a beautiful book to look at as well, Scarre's book is a winner.
Particularly good is the explanation of the Emperors' titles, and the many special features on various buildings, military campaigns, etc.

A beautiful and informative book, which you will refer to again & again after your first read.
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on 13 August 2013
The author is a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Durham and the head of its archaeology department.

Yet unusually for an academic, his writing style is extremely enjoyable.

If you have an interest in Roman history and you enjoy reading a book by an expert who doesn't write in a dreary academic style, then you will most certainly enjoy reading this book.

Quite simply, it is an excellent read and a mine of information on the life's of Roman Emperors.
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on 13 January 2016
Absolutely the best, my son is at University, he never like what I buy him so he had his Christmas present in June.
He is studying Classical and Ancient Roman History, he wanted a book about the Roman Emperors.
I have never seen him so excited over a present in his life ever. He loved it, he was so pleased said it was the best present. I was very please for him.
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