Marguerite Yourcenar's "Memoirs of Hadrian" is one of the finest examples of historical fiction I have read, and without question, the best that's been told through the eyes of its protagonist, the Roman emperor Hadrian. Yourcenar's superb accomplishment is a fictitious memoir of Rome during the early years of the 2nd Century A. D. that is as mesmerizing as any work by the likes of genuine Roman historians such as Tacitus or Suetonius. Her memoir offers us a man who was truly one of the most liberal, and far-sighted, of Rome's early emperors; a philosopher-king who bequeathes his wisdom and knowledge to his adopted nephew and successor, the young Marcus Aurelius, in the form of a lengthy letter that is the text of Yourcernar's novel. This is an admirable, compelling portrait of a man who chose to rule wisely and well, forsaking the wars of conquest waged by his immediate predecessor Trajan, for a reign noted for its peace and prosperity and a successful effort to "re-hellenize" Rome by a devout admirer of Greek history and culture. This terse book is told in fluid, often lyrical prose ably translated into English by Yourcenar and her long-time companion, the American Grace Frick. Following the novel's conclusion, Yourcernar provides some compelling vignettes recounting how she finally wrote this book.