- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Phoenix (April 1 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0753818906
- ISBN-13: 978-0753818909
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 259 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,291,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Three's Company Paperback – Apr 1 2007
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About the Author
Alfred Duggan was born in Argentina in 1903. He was educated at Eton College and Oxford. He worked for the British Natural History Museum collecting specimens and travelled extensively pursuing his job for the museum. From 1938-1941, when he was discharged as medically unfit, he served in the London Irish Rifles and saw active service in Norway. His first book was published in 1950.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book certainly doesn't support Duggan's facetious reply. The evolution of the Roman Republic into a military dictatorship is one of the most overworked historical themes, from Shakespeare's time on. But Duggan found a new approach to this classic tragedy: view it through the eyes of a minor player almost forgotten by history.
With our historical hindsight it is easy to say that Marcus Lepidus was an idiot who utterly failed to understand the decadent aristocracy he was raised in, the ruthless thugs he was dealing with, and the spineless population he pretended to represent. No other historical "leader" had TWO armies desert en masse to the other side.
But this sheer incompetence makes Lepidus a fascinating character, and one well suited to Duggan's "thinking reader" style of writing, in which the conference room and the dinner party occur more often than the battle scene. We live inside Lepidus' head and follow the man's gradual descent from high-minded defender of constitutional government to rationalizer of mass murder to plain warlord.
This isn't Duggan's best book (Lepidus' last "campaign" in Sicily drags on far too long) but it still stands far above the current ruck of blood-and-thunder historical novels.
It can be difficult to tell an exciting, dashing story when your protagonist is such a plodding fellow and if the book has a weakness, this is it. Despite it being a difficult task, the author actually does a pretty good job though. I liked the book, and finished it in a long day. The book does something very well that was fascinating: it showed the strengths of the Roman republican system and of the people who made it work before the transition to empire. Even though Lepidus is not the brightest boy, his very lack of imagination and his cleaving to traditional republican ideals actually made him a pretty handy fellow to have around sometimes. Immune to bribery, patrician, not very imaginative, strictly schooled in the way things should be, he goes about and does his job as he has been reared to do, and, like many of the Republican era, did more than pay lip service to the notion that service to Rome came before service to self. In his pedestrian way, Lepidus tried very hard to be a good leader of soldiers, conscientously looked after them, ascended the cursus honorum as he should, and actually governed extremely well in both Rome and Africa giving those places the best governance and prosperity they would enjoy in his generation. He was plodding and a little dull, but in the end this tortoise beat the hares when it came to good governance, a fact forgotten by many. But then again good governance doesn't leave much for the historians to talk about. There was a reason that Rome worked as a republic for nearly four hundred years and the reason was men like Lepidus. Caesar is a far more fascinating person, had more raw talent and intelligence in a fingernail clipping than Lepidus had in his whole body, but as a civilian in that era I would have preferred to live under Lepidus' rule. It's that old Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times". Lepidus wasn't a very interesting fellow really, but it made him the better ruler for all that. This book is fascinating in the way it manages to convey that point and it does a great job of covering the key events of the period, including many of the military engagements and political maneouverings. This is a worthwhile read helps bring more depth and understanding to a complex and turbulent period.