Top critical review
20 people found this helpful
A Bit of Work is good for you?
on 4 May 2013
Ok, I've read the excellent reviews thus far and don't disagree. So, you may ask, why only 3 stars?
Well, for those of us avid lovers of anything ancient Rome, each new book that gives an insight into what it was really like to live in 'those times' (accepting that 'those times' were several hundred years in duration) is something which is snapped up to feed our voracious appetitites. It sat there on my bookshelf for a good few months and I was, in my own sad way, looking forward to reeding it.
Within several pages I started to get a sense of disappointment: it was a bit of a slog. And it stayed a bit of a slog all the way through.
Now don't get me wrong, it is enjoyable and entertaining, but you have to do a bit of work to get the pleasure out. THe author has obviously put in a lot of effort and of course this should attract our approval. But there is a 'but', and it goes like this: he pretty continuously quotes the sources he has been using. Now I'd prefer the author to have read all the background material and then to kind of paint a picture for us - that's what popular historians do. To read this you are repeatedly required to read the same source material as he has read.
It may be that you are happy with this or even prefer it - that's fine, but if you're lke me (perhaps lazy, I don't know) I'd rather the aurthor conjures up this believable world that I can then really sense, that I can get a real feel of.
The consequence of all this is that, to me, it come across as a little sterile...
Perhaps it's just me, and I wouldnt want to detract fromn the educational/historical value of the book. Perhaps it really is me, because at the other extreme I'm bored by what I see as a lack of authenticity in novels about Rome. Perhaps that's my problem: in novels about ancient Rome I want more authenticity, but in non-fiction I want some readability...
Finally, I couldnt help thinking at times that the author makes a meal of his points and labours them somewhat. Perhaps this is because of the relative lack of source material, so he had to spend more tme over-analysing to the point of repeating the obvious.
So, overall, there is good information and learnig and insight in this book. For me though, it wasn't quite as entertaining as I would have liked.