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Given that he was the first Principate of the Res Public of Rome, setting the template for every emperor for the next 300 years, he became overshadowed in history by his grand-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar and by his less stable/more flamboyant heirs Caligula and Nero. Even Clau-Clau-Claudius had a book and tv series to himself where his grandfather looked foolish and dowdy. And that's why this book is good read- it's subject is a juicy enigmatic bio/historical specimen. He not only lived through Rome's tumultuous civil wars of the 1st century BC, he came out on top and kept himself there through a combination of wits and brutish force.
Goldsworthy is a veteran Roman historian who knows the limitations and contradictions of his sources biases and his own subject's formidable propaganda machine so I think any reader should feel confident Augustus' story is given the widest breadth and most honest telling. An accomplishment for an author whose subject's identity and personality changed and transformed to fit his needs and ambitions: Gaius Octavius aka Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus aka Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus. These are not just frivolous name-changes, but serious agenda-setting strategem to maintain his power over the army, Senate and the people.
His rise was ruthlessly bloody- leaving one of western civilization's greatest orators, Cicero, without his hands, his toungue...his life. He parlayed his victories over Antony and Cleopatra, and Sextus Pompey into triumph, his lucky adoption by "The Divine" Julius Caesar into his own legitimacy and authority, gathered the talented and competent to his inner circle and and ruled as a king without looking or seeming like one- which to traditional Roman aristocrats was the worst eptitath, REX!
Anyone who listened to and liked Caesar: Life of a Colossus will dig this one too although some of the same territory is covered pretty heavily in Part One.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Augustus the most enjoyable?
As a fan of Roman History I really liked the attention to detail and depth that this book went into. Instead of being a general overview as many books on this period are, the book explored Augustus the man.
What did you like best about this story?
The detail, the description. How the setting was created and maintained by both the author and the narrator was excellent.
Have you listened to any of Derek Perkins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I have listened to Mr. Perkins' rendition of all of Adrian Goldsworthy's work, and they are all fantastic.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Not moved so much as was interesting. Learning about the Augustus' love of bawdy poetry and similar quirks was very interesting.
Any additional comments?
If you like history, not just Roman history, listen to this book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful