The Spartacus War

  • by Barry Strauss
  • Narrated by Ray Grover
  • 6 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Spartacus War is the extraordinary story of the most famous slave rebellion in the ancient world, the fascinating true story behind a legend that has been the inspiration for novelists, filmmakers, and revolutionaries for 2,000 years.
Starting with only 74 men, a gladiator named Spartacus incited a rebellion that threatened Rome itself. With his fellow gladiators, Spartacus built an army of 60,000 soldiers and controlled the southern Italian countryside. A charismatic leader, he used religion to win support. An ex-soldier in the Roman army, Spartacus excelled in combat. He defeated nine Roman armies and kept Rome at bay for two years before he was defeated. After his final battle, 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along Rome's main southern highway.
The Spartacus War is the dramatic and factual account of one of history's great rebellions. Spartacus was beaten by a Roman general, Crassus, who had learned how to defeat an insurgency. But the rebels were partly to blame for their failure. Their army was large and often undisciplined; the many ethnic groups within it frequently quarreled over leadership. No single leader, not even Spartacus, could keep them all in line. And when faced with a choice between escaping to freedom and looting, the rebels chose wealth over liberty, risking an eventual confrontation with Rome's most powerful forces. The result of years of research, The Spartacus War is based not only on written documents but also on archaeological evidence, historical reconstruction, and the author's extensive travels in the Italian countryside that Spartacus once conquered.


What the Critics Say

"Strauss admits the lack of reliable primary sources has forced him to engage in some tricky conjectures regarding the character and motivation of Spartacus. Still, many of his assertions are credible, and his efforts to portray the political and social milieu of Italy during the late Republic are superbly done. Strauss sees Spartacus as a brave and charismatic leader who was limited by some personal shortcomings." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This is a story of the gladiator, Spartacus. He was brought from Thrace (Bulgaria) to fight in an area in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. In about 73 to 71 B.C. Spartacus and seventy other gladiators broke out armed with kitchen utensils. For two years he led a growing band of runaway slaves in a revolt. Strauss points out that Spartacus was a Murmillo gladiator who had served as a Thracian auxiliary to the Roman Army where he learned Roman military tactics.

Strauss is a Professor of Classics at Cornell University. Strauss has a fine balance between accessibility and scholarship, imagination and responsibility. It is not always an easy balance to strike but Strauss did a good job. The book reads like a thriller but grounded in history. Strauss wove history into an exciting story.

The author points out that the goal of the rebellion was vengeance not to abolish slavery. Strauss stresses that Spartacus had exceptional principles and he liked the idea of equality. Spartacus died charging the Roman general Crassus who led the campaign against him.

Strauss has not only created a history of the slave war but a campanian travelogue. The book was well written and easy to read for a history book. Roy Grover narrated the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Not for Historians

I started out enjoying this book, the author's style and the narrator are enjoyable. However by the last chapter i was purely cringing. The author makes constant use of "it is possible" or "he might of" to build large parts of the narrative. The historian job is to interpret the facts and present them in a digestible manner, using smart interpolation when necessary. Is possible that Augustus though of Spartacus on his death bed? Yes, does evidence support this even remotely? NO! This is just plain out bad history.
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- George

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-31-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios