It is 54 B.C. Gaius Julius Caesar is sweeping through Gaul. While his victories in the name of Rome are epic, the conservative leaders of the Republic are not pleased -- they are terrified. Where will the boundless ambition of Rome's most brilliant soldier stop? He must be destroyed before he can overthrow the government and install himself as Dictator.
When Cato and the Senate betray him, Caesar resolves to turn his genius against his ungrateful country. Backed by a loyal and skilled army, he marches on Rome. But before reaching his goal, he must contend with Pompey the Great, a formidable adversary who underestimates the renegade Caesar.
These are tumultuous times -- for Caesar, who endures personal tragedies even as he wages war; for Pompey, who must wrestle with his fear that his greatness is at an end; for Cicero, whose luminous rhetoric is shattered by threat of violence; and for the citizens of Rome, whose destiny lies in Caesar's hands.
The fifth novel in Colleen McCullough's unforgettable Masters of Rome series, Caesar brings to life the passion and genius of an incomparable man.
©2003 Colleen McCullough (P)2004 Simon & Schuster
"McCullough is on fire . . . Caesar is one of her strongest and most fascinating characters." (San Francisco Chronicle
This is the first and LAST "abridged" book I'll ever buy from Audible. Having read the original several times I can tell you that this butchered (there is no other suitable word FOR it) edition is a TRAVESTY! This should be an 18 hour book, not 6 hours! The first thing they did was excise Caesar's entire Gallic campaign! That's FIVE YEARS people! Colleen managed to turn the contents of Caesar's Commentaries (a complex document I have read dozens of times) into a wonderful, understandable, easy-to-follow adventure story that is interwoven with the Roman political machinations occurring simultaneously. One example of this abomination: The many pages dedicated to the magnificient story of the siege of Alesia, perhaps one of the *greatest sieges in military history*, ends up being TWO WORDS; "Vercingetorix surrendered!" Several other extensive historical events during the campaign are similarly dismissed with a couple of words or not even mentioned at ALL! What is left is a boring, truncated version of the politics occurring in Italy until Caesar finally crosses the Rubicon. I am wondering if Colleen McCullough had any say in this abridgement. I hope to God not, otherwise, I shall think much less of her from now on. Why does Audible even HAVE abridged books anyway!? When you see "abridged," think "censored, "cut to pieces," some jerk's idea of what's worth keeping and what is not! If you even CONSIDER an abriged book from Audible, you may as well just go out and buy a COMIC BOOK and save yourself some money! SHAME of you Audible! No, I will not be asking for my credit back; I wear the big boy pants, I rolled the dice and came up craps...my fault. I WILL however be suspending my account for awhile, perhaps a LONG while and see what Audible comes up with in the future. Again, SHAME!
I have found the series very interesting so if they didn't care to invest the time reading, I would recommend the audio books to get an outline of the stories.
I thought Pompey was a marvelously drawn character. More dimensional than Caesar.
York is a wonderful reader. He gave Pompey a regional British accent to remind us of his origins outside of Rome and though it sometimes seemed a bit odd, it worked to remind me of this essential piece of information.
Perhaps something alluding to the civil war.
This one really suffered from the abridgment.
I love Coleen McCullough's books on Rome. I wish that the first one, "The First Man in Rome", was on Audible. But, this one I could just as well do without. Maybe it had to do with the abridgment. But, this book was SO uneven it its portrayal of people. It amounted to something that McCullough never did in her other books. And, this is a woman who could make Sulla very sympathetic, so much so that I felt badly when the old geezer died in "Fortune's Favorites" - but, that was a much better book.
I think that McCullough is sexually obsessed with Julius Caesar and that this tends to blur her ability to make him human. With each book, beginning with the precocious youth in "Grass Crown" and then the slightly too-good-to-be-true "Fortune's Favorite", Caesar clearly in her eyes is described in very sexual language at almost every opportunity. But, she wasted no time doing the same with Sulla, but she found him to be, in the end, a murderous autocrat who was still a human being that had endured much and was the way he was for many reasons. To make a figure like Sulla likable is a rare feat. But, to make a man like Caesar somewhat unlikable, well, why can't she do the same thing?
Caesar does no wrong in this book...even in his brutal and uncharacteristic behavior at the end of the Gallic war, it seems to be brushed aside. That the optimates clearly had the constitution on their side, and that Caesar had pursued a long and horrible illegal war doesn't seem to matter to her. Cato and company come across as clowns instead of human beings trying to save the Republic. And, worse still, Pompey is portrayed as being the Clown-in-Chief. That they might have a point regarding Caesar doesn't cross seem to cross her mind once.
I wish that she had gone more into the minds of people like Cassius and others who had major and very legitimate gripes against Caesar. Cato most of all. Cicero comes across as a peace-loving dove who is swept aside by the Optimates. I happen to really admire Cicero...and, his role in the Civil War was pure poetry. He saw that Caesar was the better general but went with Pompey out of pure loyalty to his friends (mostly Brutus). Why not focus on this?
This is such an uneven account of the Civil War that Gaius Julius Caesar brought down on the Republic. He was a corrupt autocrat who wanted rule the world. In fact, the story that could have been followed would be better to watch Caesar go from his youthful idealism to bring a Consular mask to his family to the embittered and lonely dictator who alienated so many people, and in the end only had war to occupy him.
It is true that men like Marsellus were the worst of the old aristocracy. But, to make Cato into the deranged Stoic really upset me. Cato was the moral compass of the Old Republic that everyone but Caesar respected, even if he was highly unlikable. But, then, so were a lot of other characters that McCullough has explored in her Masters of Rome series.
I wonder who much the abridgment had to do with this book being the travesty it was in this audio version. I really enjoyed the other two audio books I have listed to by this author. About the only thing I liked in this was that this narrator finally abandoned most of the Latin pronunciations (no more Kik-er-o!)! I do like this particular narrator, actually.
I suggest you do not waste a credit downloading this book. Listen to the Grass Crown and Fortune's Favorite. They cover events that are far less well known.
Most books about the Civil War seem to suffer from either a love affair with Caesar (mostly from women writers), or a condemnation that is a bit too severe. Caesar was the best of the twelve Caesars. But, he still was the destroyer of the Republic. Look to Robert Harris's books Imperium and Lustrum for a better balanced account of Julius Caesar!
It's so hard to condemn a book by an author I really like. Coleen McCullough writes the best prose since Hemmingway about war...and, she doesn't really glorify it anymore than Hemmingway did. She is a very talented author. But, "Caesar" is a flop. Sorry about that, Coleen!
Like I said...I hope it was the abridgment. Sometimes that can destroy a book. This book in its original form is about 700 pages!
This gets a decent review for this performance...but overall...SKIP!
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