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Caesar: Life of a Colossus [Paperback]

Adrian Goldsworthy
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 28 2008
Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of the great Roman emperor’s life, Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor’s accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters during which he was high priest of an exotic cult, captive of pirates, seducer not only of Cleopatra but also of the wives of his two main political rivals, and rebel condemned by his own country. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar’s character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some two thousand years later.

In the introduction to his biography of the great Roman emperor, Adrian Goldsworthy writes, “Caesar was at times many things, including a fugitive, prisoner, rising politician, army leader, legal advocate, rebel, dictator . . . as well as husband, father, lover and adulterer.” In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy examines Caesar as military leader, all of these roles and places his subject firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C.

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Caesar: Life of a Colossus + Complete Roman Army, The + The Rise of Rome: The Making of the World's Greatest Empire
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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The man who virtually defined the West's concept of leadership comes alive in this splendid biography. Military historian Goldsworthy (The Complete Roman Army) gives a comprehensive, vigorous account of Caesar's conquest of Gaul and his victories in the civil war that made him master of Rome. But he doesn't stint on the nonmartial aspects of Caesar's life—his dandyism, his flagrant womanizing (which didn't stop enemies from gay-baiting him), his supple political genius and the flair for drama and showmanship that cowed mutinous legionaries and courted Rome's restive masses. Goldsworthy's is a sympathetic profile. In his telling, Caesar's massacres and group enslavements, though "utterly ruthless," are considered and pragmatic, not wanton, and the conqueror seems to possess a moderation and magnanimity that sprang from the same idealized self-image that fed his ambition. The author's vivid portrait of the late Roman Republic that Caesar toppled is correspondingly jaundiced: its politics are about nothing except the personal ambitions of powerful men, and chaos, corruption and violence reign beneath the ritualistic niceties of republican procedure. More compellingly than most biographies, Goldsworthy's exhaustive, lucid, elegantly written life makes its subject the embodiment of his age. 16 pages of b&w photos, maps. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

One of the most recognizable names to the ancient and modern worlds, Caesar is one of the few figures from the Roman Empire--Cicero and Augustus are two others--susceptible to modern biographical treatment. Caesar, by Christian Meier (1996), was the previous portrait. Goldsworthy is a historian of the Roman army, a credential vital to assessing the career of Caesar, conqueror of Gaul, instigator of a fateful civil war, dictator, and would-be conqueror of Parthia (modern Iraq) but for the Ides of March. Leaning on Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War, Goldsworthy exhibits strong explanatory skill about military campaigns and about Caesar's rising but precarious political status at Rome. Accepting that Caesar crossed the Rubicon to stave off personal ruination, Goldsworthy's account of the ensuing war nevertheless does not absolve his opponents, Pompey and Cato primarily, from responsibility for the political impasse behind the war. In any case, Caesar sealed his military reputation with a rapid victory. Eternally intriguing history readers, the end of the Roman Republic receives astute analysis and dramatic narration in Goldsworthy's life of Caesar. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME Dec 1 2009
Format:Paperback
I wasn't able to put this book down. It was so informative at the time. I read it last year when I really didn't know much about Rome, but now due in part because of this book I love ancient history! A great book for noobs, easy to follow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! Aug. 18 2009
By Patrick Sullivan TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The subtitle, Life Of a Colossus, just says it all. Caesar`s life story is something people will always be interested in. Adrian Goldsworthy takes the reader through every single detail of Caesar`s life. I have also read Caesar`s War Commentaries, and I found the two books complimented each other.
Goldsworthy is a military historian, so he is at his best describing Caesar`s battle tactics. I also thought his description of Roman politics, was very well done.
I highly recommend this book, to anyone that has an interest in the world of ancient Rome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caesar: Life of a Colossus Aug. 8 2009
Format:Hardcover
Top drawer reading folks. If you want to understand Caesar and his world, buy this book. It is riveting and it has a way of making you feel that you are there witnessing first hand, the life of Rome, Gaul, Britain, and Caesar 2,000 years ago. There is not one ounce of disappointment in this book.
Mickey Moulder
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb recreation of a seminal era Nov. 12 2010
Format:Paperback
Goldsworthy has managed to deliver a powerful portrait of one of the most important figures in Roman history. He provides enough context to allow even the reader who is not so familiar with the events he shaped (and those which shaped him) with a good sense of what might in effect have happened, and what pushed the players to act the way they did. From our perspective, Rome was a screwed up city to live in, no matter what class of the society you belonged. Goldsworthy if fair in his treatment, and do not appear to glorify his subject, a plus in my book.
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