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By Mike From Mesa on 08-31-15
Caesar and his times
Biographies have an in-built problem. They cover a person's entire life but, since that person generally does not do much worth recording until he or she becomes an adult, the part covering their childhood tends to be both boring and uninformative. Some people's early lives are interesting but most, like Caesar's, are generally bland and undocumented and the book ends up trying to fill space with no real information about the person and only speculation about the world in which he or she lived. Given that, Caesar is no better than most as a description of Julius Caesar's early life.
The book does pick up as Caesar enters politics and becomes truly interesting and informative when Caesar goes on campaign in Spain. From that point I found the book hard to put down and more informative than any other book I have read on either this period in Rome's history or on Caesar's life. Given how long ago the events in this book took place Mr Goldsworthy has done an excellent job of telling the reader when events are speculative and presenting not only what he believes to be the correct re-telling of what happened but also presenting other views and the reasons he believes the ones he specifies are the correct interpretations. This alone makes this book worth reading.
Once Caesar has gone on campaign with the Army the description of the events and battles he took part in go a long way to explaining why he is considered to be such a colossus of an individual. All of Caesar's battles are covered as well as an explanation as to why these were important to Rome and why Caesar was considered such a great general.
Caesar's return to Rome, his crossing of the Rubicon with his Army, his subsequent campaigns in the civil war and his terms as dictator are also covered in detail and the book only gets more interesting as it describes the events leading to Caesar's death. There is also a small section covering the subsequent civil war, the rise of Augustus and the end of the Republic although, as Mr Goldsworthy makes clear, the Republic had actually ended earlier than the assumption of the position of emperor by Augustus.
One of the things Mr Goldsworthy has done in this excellent book is present the world of that time as a real place with real people and at no time did I start thinking of Caesar and his world as anything other than composed of real living beings. It is easy when reading about life in the ancient world to think of places like Troy or Sparta as fictional locations rather than real live cities with real live people. Not so with this book.
Mr Perkins has done an excellent job in the narration and the book is well worth listening to if you are interested in the final years of the Roman Republic.
33 of 33 people found this review helpful
By B. on 06-08-15
In-depth, interesting and expertly narrated
If you could sum up Caesar in three words, what would they be?
In-depth, expertly narrated
What did you like best about this story?
While the order of information some times jumps back and forth in a confusing way, the story of Caesar is brought to life here by Derek Perkins' excellent narration. I wish all history books were narrated by him quite frankly!Clocking in at 24 hours 46 minutes, this took me almost a month of daily driving to get through and I was enthralled through every bit. This really does feel like a complete telling of Caesar's life and done in a way that makes the events seem vivid and exciting.Highly recommended for fans of history and for those curious about the minutia of the daily life of Romans during the time of Caesar's life.
What does Derek Perkins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Derek Perkins does a wonderful job of sounding authoritative but still playful. His pronunciation, diction and general style fits the subject matter wonderfully and enhances those few mundane areas. He does a fantastic job here, kept me interested through all ~25 hours of the book!
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The story of Caesar's capture by pirates was particularly entertaining. I won't spoil it here though!
Any additional comments?
Be aware, this is a LONG audiobook. Put aside a month to get through it.There is also a lot of similar sounding names and places, so if you don't have an ear for that you may find it a little confusing. The narration does help this a lot however, but be aware nonetheless.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful