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Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic Hardcover – 27 October 2003
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- Publisher : Little, Brown; 1st edition (27 October 2003)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316861308
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316861304
- Dimensions : 16.5 x 4 x 24 cm
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As well as being a classically trained scholar, Tom Holland is also an accomplished novelist and this explains why this book is so compelling. He weaves a narrative that reflects his award winning history writing ability with that of a storyteller. He combines the research skills and erudition of a specialist with the dramatic prose of a fine writer to create a dramatic and compelling narrative. In this regard he is perhaps more akin to Antony Beevor than Mary Beard.
I would recommend this book as an entry point for everyone. If you wish to probe further, Holland's extensive bibliography will help you find what you need. It is detailed and useful. He is adept at bringing characters to life which have been studied and wrote about for over 2000 years whether by Herodotus or Shakespeare, or in big screen epics or TV series. These people matter to us and this books brings a fresh lease of life to them. If you enjoy the USA TV show House of Cards then this book is for you as there are numerous similarities - only the names seem to change as plots and conspiracies abound, loyalties change at a moment's notice while the quest for power plays out.
There are plenty of colour and black and white illustrations and the maps are clear if lacking a little detail. Holland keeps us interested from start to finish and is the type of author you then want to read everything else they've written.
A great read and would make a good gift.
Unlike general histories, which will try to describe and explain every little detail, Tom Holland succinctly brings together a grand narrative that weaves together the most important characters and events into a rich tapestry.
While at times he is dependent on the original writings from Rome, which are perhaps more fiction than fact, at least it means the overall story is sourced from what the Romans wrote about themselves. Even better is that Holland manages to make many of the leading figures feel real using only the slightest strokes.
Overall, a wonderful achievement, and the best general history of the Roman Republic I've read to date.
It absolutely fascinated and engrossed me.
Being far from an expert I expected to discover things that I had previously not known of, what I didn't expect was the sheer amount of new information - or how radical it seemed to someone with little understanding of the ancients. When they said that 'the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there', they certainly weren't exaggerating.
Just the contrast with how cultured and devoted to learning the Romans were, compared to how casually they accepted torture and murder, as a form of entertainment. In many ways one can still relate to Roman attitudes, their humanism and open mindedness concerning religion can feel much like ourselves but, in many other ways, they're a completely alien species. Tom Holland does a brilliant job of showing the similarities and the differences.
In one of the two one star reviews the reviewer complains about the authors emphasis of the negative. I disagree.
Tom Holland has emphasized the benefits that Rome brought to the world but he also told how people were buried alive, to placate an angry God
or new born babies could be legally 'exposed'. Left out to die. In fact the male head of a family had the power of life and death over everyone else within the family - but a wife was always more controlled by her father than by her husband, and divorces often occurred because political alignments changed (as with Tiberius and Vipsania).
After reading Rubicon I immediately ordered Persian Fire, also by Holland, as well as six more Ancient Rome titles.
The Adrian Goldworthy biography of Caesar was excellent but the others were dull compared to Holland's RUBICON.
As much as Ancient Rome interests me, I do now acknowledge that Tom Hollands writing was as much to do with my enjoyment
as the actual subject I was studying.
I'm still very much an English Royal history fan but I do make a point of buying and reading any releases by Tom Holland.
His last two, Millenium and In the Shadow of the Sword, covered subjects which I wouldn't normally read
but they were enjoyable due to the authors easy going style.
Holland's next title 'DYNASTY', available from summer '15, is a welcome return to Rome as he deals with one of histories most epic sagas
The Julio-Claudian Dynasty.
I can hardly wait.....
I learned about leadership, how truly sophisticated the Romans were and of course about the Roman Empire.