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Customer reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

on 11 October 2007
I'll readily grant this is an excellent history of this unique civilization, treating every aspect (social, political, cultural, religious, ...) in great detail and with a wealth of maps, time tables and family trees and such. However, be aware that it's not a book to simply read (with ongoing text in chapters, like for instance Tom Holland's "Rubicon") but rather a 'textbook' with lots of headings, sub-headings, bullit points and small paragraphs.

If you're eager to have a book on hand that'll allow you to quickly look up things this is excellent because it comes with an exhaustive index, but if you want a book on the history of Rome to snuggle up with in bed I'd go elsewhere.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 August 2008
I came to this having waded through the immense but superb Penguin abridgement of Gibbons Decline and Fall. D&F is of course a literary masterpiece of the first order, but to the modern reader, the archaic language, sometimes downright impenetrable, cannot help but get in the way of the factual material being presented. Furthermore, the sheer overwhelming quantity of material makes it difficult for the newcomer to determine the critical from the detail.

I thus began to look for a book that would give me the whole story of Rome (assuming say the mythical foundation of 753 BC up to the sacking by Alaric in 410 AD). This title was the closest I could find to what I had in mind, and for sure it nearly succeeds. For the most part one feels one is being given the bones of the story, with a fair distribution of perspectives between the various colourful characters of the saga, plus the more nitty-gritty historic aspects, social, military, economic, religious, etc. But this sense of thoroughness seems to fall apart towards the end of the book. Specifically for the third and fourth centuries AD, when suddenly you feel that you are being given a mere sketch, and a very patchy one at that. Is this period not of interest to the Authors? Do the Authors simply despair of giving the same quality of treatment to an era made more complicated by clashes of religion, and the ever more internecine intrigues of the various courts? I can't know but the general impression was of something that had been excellent and exactly fulfilling my requirement, running out of steam as the finishing post came in sight. Hence four stars.

Another reviewer describes this being delivered as a set of dry bullet points or some such. I can't concur as the first four-fifths provide a vivid and engaging narrative. But I can see how one might be left with that impression on completion of the last fifth.

As such, it seems to me that there is still a gap in the market for a definitive one volume history of Rome. It could even be that a thorough revision of the latter sections of this book might still fulfil that role admirably. It would then get my fifth star.
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on 4 February 2015
very useful book at a good price
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on 24 November 2013
If you are an enthusiast about Rome and Roman hIstory, don't buy this book. I struggled half way through and gave up, - in fact I threw it away. It is boring and legalistic. One of the most intriguing and exciting periods of human history is reduced to a knee deep ploughing through the legalistic and religious makeup of the Roman Empire. Necessary for some ; but not for me.
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on 4 March 2012
This covers the history from the foundation to the decline. It is very readable and informative, giving a good insight into the social and political developments.
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on 29 December 2000
The book by Cley Le about the History of Rome was easy to read and explained a lot about Roman culture, beliefs and traditions, as well as, the history behind the Roman Empire.
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