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From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discover the most critical episodes in Roman history: the spectacular collapse of the "free" republic, the birth of the age of the "Caesars", the violent suppression of the strongest rebellion against Roman power, and the bloody civil war that launched Christianity as a world religion.
At the heart of this account are the dynamic, complex, and flawed characters of some of the most powerful rulers in history: men such as Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, and Constantine. Putting flesh on the bones of these distant, legendary figures, Baker looks beyond the dusty, toga-clad caricatures and explores their real motivations and ambitions.
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By Tad Davis on 08-01-17
Clear and dramatic
Simon Baker tells the story of Ancient Rome by focusing on a series of dramatic turning points. These turning points are surprisingly well-documented, and Baker describes them with gusto. The Gracchi brothers, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Constantine, and Stilicho (somebody I'd never heard of) all spring to life. Baker's usual technique is to set the scene with a gripping anecdote and then go back and fill in the background and context.
It probably wouldn't pass muster as a general survey, but it served my purposes. My grasp of Roman history was weak, informed mostly by Shakespeare and Ridley Scott. It's still not strong, but at least now I have a framework to use for further exploration.
Chris MacDonnell narrates clearly and with sustained energy. I look forward to hearing other books that he narrated.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Nik Jewell on 04-26-18
Great Narrative History
A very good history of six key periods in the history of the Roman Republic and Empire. I understand from its preface that it accompanied a BBC TV series but I must have missed it. I am not sure that that I would have picked the same periods but that is a personal choice; the corollary and benefit to this is that I learned something new in some of them.
The six periods are: the agrarian reforms of Tiberius Gracchus; Caesar vs Pompey; the rule of Nero; the Jewish revolt (Tiberius, Josephus); Constantine and Christianity; and the decline and fall (Stilicho, Alaric, Attila).
Whilst not as detailed and, perhaps, less thrilling, as Tom Holland where they overlap (Caesar, Nero) this is good and very readable/listenable narrative history
By DSellers on 11-08-17
Worth more than one listen
A concise, yet comprehensive overview of the history of Rome. Does not dwell too long on a particular era and offers balanced views and assessment of the sources available. Well read. I will definitely be listening to it again in full, in the future, having just completed it.