The lecture is successful in completely covering the motivations behind the American War of Independence but Prof. Mancall is a horrible speaker. He's constantly tongue-tied and he sounds like he's reading aloud.
...and everybody's a star. So the Kinks song goes, so does this book. Excellent history of Hollywoodland and the movie business circa early 20s via a cross-section of the lives of a variety of movie folk, both high status and lowly. And there is a murder mystery to boot. The has-beens and never-weres-and-never-gonna-bes live, work, and walk among the elites and other successful players and this is the tension William Mann excellently illustrates. He makes great use of the vernacular of the times via the letters, diaries, newspapers and other contemporaneous sources. It's like reading/listening to "Day of the Locusts" by Nathaniel West. Highly recommend to fans of early Hollywood and early 20th century US history and for murder mystery buffs.
As a fan of ancient Roman history and having not had any religious upbringing, I enjoy the history of Jesus and the early Christians and their world. This book did not disappoint- Jesus and his followers as anti-Roman, anti-collaborators, and VERY pro-Jewish rabble-rousers was a take on this story I hadn't heard before. Reza Aslan paints a very clear portrait of the situation in that part of the world at the time of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. Israel/Judea is under foreign occupation and Jesus of Nazereth is only one of several self-proclaimed 'messiahs of the Law of Moses' in a volatile 1st century Jerusalem. Rome and its client Judean partners don't particularly cotton to revolutionary Jewish nationalist- which is how Aslan portrays JC- and dispatch the full penalty of the state towards him.
After his crucifixion is the part I truly found fascinating- the way his group of illiterate farmers and fisherman carried on without him, how they found new adherents to Jesus' teachings and how post-crucifixion followers like Stephen and Paul (formerly 'Saul') helped his message spread outside of Judea and how that message dramatically changed...how a militant anti-Roman/pro-Jewish movement turned into one that proclaimed the man himself, Jesus of Nazereth, was, not the "Son of Man" or the "Son of God", but God Himself. I really found the political squabblings between Paul's Gentile Faction and James' (brother of JC) Hebrews of Jerusalem Faction quite interesting and entertaining.
My major (yet minor) complaint is Aslan voice doesn't have the stamina for a whole book, maybe a ringer should have been hired. Still a very good listen.
Given that he was the first Principate of the Res Public of Rome, setting the template for every emperor for the next 300 years, he became overshadowed in history by his grand-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar and by his less stable/more flamboyant heirs Caligula and Nero. Even Clau-Clau-Claudius had a book and tv series to himself where his grandfather looked foolish and dowdy. And that's why this book is good read- it's subject is a juicy enigmatic bio/historical specimen. He not only lived through Rome's tumultuous civil wars of the 1st century BC, he came out on top and kept himself there through a combination of wits and brutish force.
Goldsworthy is a veteran Roman historian who knows the limitations and contradictions of his sources biases and his own subject's formidable propaganda machine so I think any reader should feel confident Augustus' story is given the widest breadth and most honest telling. An accomplishment for an author whose subject's identity and personality changed and transformed to fit his needs and ambitions: Gaius Octavius aka Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus aka Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus. These are not just frivolous name-changes, but serious agenda-setting strategem to maintain his power over the army, Senate and the people.
His rise was ruthlessly bloody- leaving one of western civilization's greatest orators, Cicero, without his hands, his toungue...his life. He parlayed his victories over Antony and Cleopatra, and Sextus Pompey into triumph, his lucky adoption by "The Divine" Julius Caesar into his own legitimacy and authority, gathered the talented and competent to his inner circle and and ruled as a king without looking or seeming like one- which to traditional Roman aristocrats was the worst eptitath, REX!
Anyone who listened to and liked Caesar: Life of a Colossus will dig this one too although some of the same territory is covered pretty heavily in Part One.
I trust Google translated "My Way" correctly the way, with the Sinatran vibe it connotes. I think a very even-handed look at an historical figure who's often been characterized as a power-hungry madman, setting the record straight on his case against the aristocrats of Rome. Goldsworthy paints a vivid picture of Roman political life circa 1st century BCE, how it sat on a figurative powder keg bound to be lit by any number of cravenly ambitious men, and how the events of 49 BCE conspired to make Caesar the one who crosses the Rubicon. The book also excellently portrays Caesar's generation of peers coming of age during the Social Wars, the bloody Sullan/Marian civil wars and Spartacus' uprising, when many of the Republic's ancient checks and balances were irreparably damaged. No surprise many saw use of violent force the only way to power while others, haunted by the Sullan/Marian dictatorships' recurrence, doubled down on stamping out any attempt at one man gaining special powers at the expense of the public good.
My only complaint (and this is due to my own laziness) is the middle third's concentration on the Gallic Wars. All those tribe names begin to sound the same after awhile and there's lots of talk about building camp and gathering supplies. I'm nitpicking really, b/c the Gallic campaigns are what forged Caesar the military genius- gave him his connection to his legions and in the process merely changed the couse of Western European history forever.
Derek Perkins narration is superb. Adrian Goldworthy's writing and research are superb.
Yes. This and "State of Emergency", Sandbrook's other book about the early '70s in the UK.
Like "State of Emergency", Sandbrook continues to blow my mind about how desperate these times were for the Brits but how they always managed to persevere.
The story of Liberal Party head Jeremy Thorpe, involving a plot to murder a former lover. The would-be hit-man did manage to kill the lover's dog. Crazy story.
I was depressed when I finished it.
I wish Sandbrook's books on Britain in the Sixties were available on Audible. Can't wait for his books on the Eighties. This gave me great perspective on where the Thatcherite movement came from.
Anyone interested in recent UK history, absolutely essential listening or reading. Especially for non-British listeners/readers who have no memory of the events and times.
It seems comprehensive- from Whitehall on down to the Yorkshire mine strikers and every middle-class concern in between. It covers gov't policies on wages and taxes, social movements like feminism and immigration, and pop cultural moments such as Bowie, Rising Damp and A Clockwork Orange in an equally entertaining manner. Despite the utter bleakness of energy shutdowns, general strikes, and stagflation there always seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
It also helped me understand a lot of the Monty Python sketches I saw as a kid. They'd reference British politicians like Heath or Maudling, often using them as punchlines. I wouldn't get the joke but I'd laugh anyway b/c they were just that funny and I figured I'd get it someday. Or when Eric Idle had to read copy by candlelight wrapped around a blanket. Oh how absurd they are! Nope- that was a lot closer to reality than I could've imagined. Today's the day I got those references. Not just Python, but movies like "Clockwork" and "Straw Dogs" and "Get Carter" now have more meaning b/c of the context provided by this book.
And because of this book I've discovered for myself Kenneth Williams!
His voice is much better than the voice in my head. I love his voice caricatures of the variety of characters in the book: Edward Heath, Kenneth Williams, and Tony Benn in particular.
"You thought the breakup of The Beatles was bad...you ain't seen nuthin' yet!"
The '70s in general gets short shrift as that tacky decade between The Sixties and the rise of Thatcher/Reagan and technology. But that's when so much build-up of the promise of the previous decade ran smack dab into harsh reality; that the world power Great Britain had to learn to live within strict limits, having lost its empire and dealing with the new global economy. As a left-leaner, I had to open my mind to a critique of Keynesian economics and I felt the author is very equitable in his assessments of UK economic policy. As an American in the 21st century, I take for granted low inflation, higher unemployment and a working power grid so hearing about the struggles between the Tories and Labour was utterly alien and fascinating.
Report Inappropriate Content