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Caesar: Life of a Colossus

Caesar: Life of a Colossus

Written by Adrian Goldsworthy

Narrated by Derek Perkins


Caesar: Life of a Colossus

Written by Adrian Goldsworthy

Narrated by Derek Perkins

ratings:
4.5/5 (41 ratings)
Length:
24 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Aug 12, 2014
ISBN:
9781494574154
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of Julius Caesar's life, Adrian Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor's accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar's character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some two thousand years later.




In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy examines Caesar as a military leader, as well as his other roles, and places his subject firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C.
Publisher:
Released:
Aug 12, 2014
ISBN:
9781494574154
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Adrian Goldsworthy studied at Oxford, where his doctoral thesis examined the Roman army. He went on to become an acclaimed historian of Ancient Rome. He is the author of numerous works of non fiction, including Caesar, Pax Romana, Hadrian's Wall and Philip and Alexander. He is also the author of the Vindolanda series, set in Roman Britain, which first introduced readers to Flavius Ferox.



Reviews

What people think about Caesar

4.7
41 ratings / 18 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Detailed, well researched, and thought provoking. Not a good book to read in bed, as it's heavy and the hard cover can cause injury, it's still well worth the effort. A good addition to any Roman historian's collection, even though the aftermath is somewhat lightly glossed over.
  • (5/5)
    Goldsworthy's Caesar is an extraordinarily well-written one-volume biography. Some who have sniffed that Goldsworthy's treatment is not comprehensive enough miss the point - this is supposed to be a one-volume biography of Caesar and the book is 519 pages as is without chasing after the disputes between Crassus and Pompey. The author shows remarkable discipline in not wandering off down the many enticing pathways offered by the late Roman Republic. Goldsworthy specifically cautioned at the beginning that he intends to stay focused on Caesar and Caesar alone and that is what he does. Writing a biography of Caesar presents the formidable challenge of humanizing the subject - much like writing about Napoleon or Robert E. Lee. They are the 'marble men' in Shelby Foote's phrasing. Goldsworthy succeeds admirably in this regard. He repeatedly cautions the reader not to regard the events of Caesar's life as inevitable. The reader gets the sense of Caesar as a man who strove to succeed above all else, but could have failed. His lively writing style paints an engaging portrait of Caesar (much more so than Anthony Everritt's 'Augustus', for example). Crisply described battle scenes give the reader a good sense of what happened and why, whether against the Gauls at Alesia or Pompey at Pharsalus. Contrary to some other reviewers, I found that Goldsworthy's background as a preeminent military historian serves him well. At Caesar's most successful he was above all a Roman general and spent most of the last 15 years of his life fighting wars first against Rome's enemies and later against other Romans. True, Caesar was nearly 40 before he embarked on the victories that made his place in history, but we remember him for those years as a military leader not for his role as praetor or pontifex maximus. A remarkable one-volume biography. I'd give it more than 5 stars if I could. Highest recommendation.
  • (1/5)
    I found this book incredibly dull. Well researched--no question that almost all of the known material on Caesar is summarized here--but does it have to be so boring? While reading it, I found myself constantly comparing it wih Colleen McCullough's 5 volume fictional work on Caesar; IMHO, her books are infinitely preferable to this one volume. Same material, better read.For someone who is supposedly a military historian, it is beyond my power to understand how Goldsworthy could make the Gallic Wars sound so dull. It appeared to me thathe was bored by them. He seemed to pick up interest in the Civil War. I found his summary decent.For me, a major problem was the style of writing--mostly simple, declarative sentences. Such monotony along with the appearance of a lack of real interest in his material made for heavy going.Another very subjective complaint I have about the book is a lack of a point of view. I'm surprised that in 2007 someone can still make the statement in print of strivign to be entirely objective. That's a vain hope! No one is. In doing so, his material loses life. There is a saying in opera, "strong opinions, strong production". I think it applies equally well to writing.Granted, any author of fiction has far, far more leeway than a historian. But McCullough brings her characters to life, which made it far easier for me to remember the material! Also, you can learn far, far more about Roman life, culture, institutions, etc from her glossaries which beat anything I have ever seen in novels.Any really good general history ought to inspire the reader to go to original sources. I can't imagine desiring to read Caesar's Commentaries after reading Goldsworthy. Yet they are utterly fascinating.The only reason why I didn't give this book the lowest rating is that it is useful to have the material all inone place. And it certainly helps to put one to sleep at night--a good cure for insomnia.
  • (5/5)
    I was surprised to see a very negative, one-star review of this book. I thought it was both interesting and well-written. In fact, I had trouble putting it done, and I was sorry to finish it. If the subject matter appeals to you at all, I think you are pretty much bound to enjoy this book.
  • (4/5)
    I'm still only about half way though this. It's more military focused than I thought (I tend to prefer the social history rather than the military/political) but I still enjoy it when I dip into it. The man could fit a battle, that's for sure.
  • (5/5)
    In his introduction Goldsworthy says that, "Unlike those studying more recent history, ancient historians often have to make the best of limited and possibly unreliable sources, as well as balancing apparently contradictory accounts." In my opinion he does this very successfully in a readable book that doesn't try to present academic disputes.The basic outlines are clear with one paragraph in the introduction opening with the sentence, "Ceasar was a great man", and another opening with the sentence, "Caesar was not a moral man....", the two sides of his character being amply illustrated throughout the 23 chapters. Goldsworthy gives cognisance to the fact that the 1st century B.C. Roman Republic were not moral times and that ancient history needs to be judged in its own context, for example Roman pride in "virtu" (which could be expressed by conquering weak neighbours) or the mass entertainment of gladiatorial combat. Ceasar was a famous philanderer of the aristocratic wives of Rome which caused him some obvious difficulties, and he could bribe his way through politics and ally himself with armed gangs as well as the best of them, finally breaking the Republic by crossing the Rubicon and imposing himself as dictator.Militarily, he was as consistently successful as he had been with the Roman wives, conquering Gaul and eventually reaching the pinnacle of power that he had always sought through the defeat Pompey, his only credible rival in wealth, political influence and armed might. He combined cunning with aggressiveness, succeeding in subduing Gaul in good measure by his clemency and willingness to grant Roman rights, and it is notable that his well designed legislation continued to proved its worth under the subsequent rule of Augustus.I found this a very rewarding and recommendable book (much better than Tom Holland's "Rubicon").