Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic Paperback – Mar 8 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
After a palace coup demolished the reign of King Tarquin of Rome in 509 B.C., a republican government flourished, providing every person an opportunity to participate in political life in the name of liberty. As Holland, a novelist and adapter of Herodotus' Histories for British radio, points out in this lively re-creation of the republic's rise and fall, the seeds of destruction were planted in the very soil in which the early republic flourished. It was more often members of the patrician classes who had the resources to achieve political success. Such implicit class distinctions in an ostensibly classless society also gave rise to a new group of rulers who acted like monarchs. Holland chronicles the rise to power of such leaders as Sulla Felix, Pompey, Cicero and Julius Caesar. Some of these leaders, such as Pompey, appealed to the masses by expanding the republic through military conquest; others, like Cicero, worked to reinforce class distinctions. Holland points to the suppression of the Gracchian revolution-a series of reforms in favor of the poor pushed by the Gracchus brothers in the second century B.C.-as the beginning of the end of the republic, providing the context into which Julius Caesar would step with his own attempts to save the republic. As Holland points out, Caesar actually precipitated civil wars and helped to reestablish an imperial form of government in Rome. With the skill of a good novelist, Holland weaves a rip-roaring tale of political and historical intrigue as he chronicles the lively personalities and problems that led to the end of the Roman republic. Maps.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Ancient history lives in this vivid chronicle of the tumultuous events that impelled Julius Caesar across the one small river that separated the Roman Republic from cataclysmic civil war. With the narrative talents that have established him as a prominent radio personality and novelist, Holland pulls readers deep into the treacherous riptide of Roman politics. To show how Caesar eventually masters that tide--if only temporarily--Holland first traces the bloody career of the ruthless dictator Sulla, who rescues an imperiled Republic even as he breaches its founding traditions. Those breaches deeply disturb the moralist Cato, but the indulgent luxury of a post-Sullan world suits Caesar well enough: a popular favorite, he sets the fashion in loose-fitting togas--and waits for his fated opening. Recounting Caesar's eventual seizure of power in pages as irresistibly cadenced as the legionnaires' march, Holland probes the tragic ironies that quickly expose the bold conqueror to idealistic assassins, who themselves soon perish in the rise of the Augustan Empire. Not a work for scrupulous scholars, but a richly resonant history for the general reader. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
An amazing read. Easily one of the top 20 or 30 books I have ever had the pleasure of reading, Holland's prose is simply outstanding. And that is something that is very difficult to accomplish with such doughty subject material.
His portrayal of each major player during the last years of the Republic really gave me a true sense of what kind of men they really were. Men like Pompey, Cato, Clodius, Julius Caesar really jumped off the page and I really could imagine them debating and arguing in the Senate, each with their own imitable style. They weren't one-dimensional names that appeared on a page, there was a great amount of depth to each. Pompey's arrogance and conceit, Cato's unbending rigidity and austere nature, Clodius' viciousness, and Caesar's pure genius all come to life !
If you have any appreciation for history, get this book.
I picked up this book on a recommendation from Goodreads.com from a list of "best history books". Since I've never read much about Rome before, and the book had a cool title (Rubicon it turns out is the name of a river) I decided to check it out.
The one thing I've learned about great history books is that they have superb writers. [I'm talking about history books that look like slightly oversized hardcover novels, not those terribly written textbooks:] In a way, it's not that surprising, since who would want to read a book about history unless it was written well? For a history book to be commissioned, I think the editor looks at writing ability just as much as technical ability in history. This book is highly readable. The sentences are short and concise, the font is big, and the pages use 1.5 point spacing. I can't count the number of books I have tossed because the font was so tiny and each page was jam-packed with text, so I love books with accessible presentation.
Like all good history writers, Tom Holland brings the story of the Republic to life. The combination of layout and author's style hooks you from the first page. And the history of the Republic is cold, filthy, unforgiving, ruthless, and without mercy. It reminds me much of the movie "300", except that this was real: in "300" boys were trained as killers and the weak were killed in the ultimate test of solo-hunting a beast, while in Rome parents dunked their babies in ice water to ensure only the strong would survive; in "300" the Spartans killed in ruthless fashion, in Rome there were equally horrific massacres.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I like the way Tom Holland tells these famous stories, builds the feel of the cultural times, sheds new light here and there.Published 7 months ago by Julian Ticehurst
If Mr. Holland would have been my teacher way dow in the year path 40 years ago how happy I would have been. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Jean-pierre Petits
After having read Millenium, I wanted more and Rubicon satisfied my craving. Well written and entertaining, it reads like a novel, though I got sometimes confused with some of the... Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2012 by Justine
I keep it short and sweet. This is a brilliant book for a brilliant part of history. This is written how a history book should be written, making it in intresting and enjoyable... Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2010 by Ben Nicholson
I keep it short and sweet. This is a brilliant book for a brilliant part of history. This is written how a history book should be written, making it in intresting and enjoyable... Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2010 by Ben Nicholson
Once you start reading Rubicon, it is very hard to put down. Tom Holland has done a great job. Do yourself a favour and read this book.Published on Feb. 20 2008 by Patrick Sullivan
It is easier to pin point the ending of Tom Holland's book then its beginning - it ends with the death of Augustus in 14 BC, years after the Roman Republic has ceased to exist in... Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by Omer Belsky