The Roman Republic was the most remarkable state in history. What began as a small community of peasants camped among marshes and hills ended up ruling the known world. Rubicon paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall. It is a story of incomparable drama.
This was the century of Julius Caesar, the gambler whose addiction to glory led him to the banks of the Rubicon, and beyond; of Cicero, whose defence of freedom would make him a byword for eloquence; of Spartacus, the slave who dared to challenge a superpower; of Cleopatra, the queen who did the same. Tom Holland brings to life this strange and unsettling civilization, with its extremes of ambition and self-sacrifice, bloodshed and desire. Yet alien as it was, the Republic still holds up a mirror to us. Its citizens were obsessed by celebrity chefs, all-night dancing and exotic pets; they fought elections in law courts and were addicted to spin; they toppled foreign tyrants in the name of self-defence. Two thousand years may have passed, but we remain the Romans' heirs.
©2003 Tom Holland (P)2005 Recorded Books LLC
At one point in its history, Rome was ruled by toga wearing citizen soldiers who were elected by people so afraid of kings that the term of office was only one year. At another point in history, Rome was ruled by decadent and insane emperors who commanded their subjects to worship them as gods. This book explains how and why such a huge change could take place. The book has lively descriptions of the actions of the key players and does a great job in expanding on the motives and consequences of their choices. Highlights include Publius Clodius crashing a female only party in drag, Crassus’ severed head being used as a stage prop by Rome’s enemies in Parthia, Julius Caesar’s exciting campaign in Gaul, Cicero’s sarcastic court case speeches, and tales of grisly battles waged by Pompey Magnus a/k/a “the teenage butcher.” Both the writing organization and narrative style are excellent and I was enthralled. If you only could read one book about Rome, this is a good choice.
I majored in classical history and studied this period pretty intensely - but that was twenty years ago. For me this was a wonderful refresher, engaging and fast-paced and very informative. I can't recommend it enough if you're interested in the period.
I've knocked the Performance score because, while the narrator is quite good, there are a lot slightly over-long pauses, especially in the beginning. There are also numerous instances where you can hear him swallow or make other little noises, which is something I don't ever remember hearing on an audiobook before. I assume it was the producers fault. It's a minor distraction from a great listen.
The way the facts are presented in a narrative fashion that allows you to stay engaged from start to finish.
The special attention given to the rise and fall of Julius Caesar is amazing. You find yourself caring for Caesar, Cato and Pompey in a way that makes it somewhat heartbreaking when they meet their inevitable ends.
He is a great narrator in general, and his voice lends credence to the words.
The death of Pompey Magnus.
I definitely recommend this, though be warned that if you're looking for the strictest historical account this may not exactly be it. The facts are all there (as well as anyone can say 2000 years after the fact), but Holland is no stranger to embellishment and emotion. The same things that make this book more engaging than your average historical account also detract, if only slightly, from the credibility.
The part where Pompi literally ends the Republic by forcing Mark Anthony and Ceasers other men in Rome out by a death threat. Then tries to say he is saving the Republic. He forced Ceasars hand and ended the Republic.
When the senators forced Pompi to attack Ceaser in the east. Destroying any chance for them to gain power again. Pompi the general knew better, but the senators thinking they know it all ruined everything for them.
This great narrator brings the finely-written prose to life. I couldn't put this book down as the story builds to the climactic crumbling of the republic.
I bought this book after listening to Dan Carlin's fantastic "Death Throes of the Republic" podcast series. This book complements Carlin's narrative so well that each makes me appreciate the other that much the more.
The Narrator's performance was wonderful, conveying the scheming and back-biting atmosphere of late-republican Rome true to form. You could imagine yourself there. However, it takes a bit of artistic license and adds somewhat to Tacitus' works in order to achieve this - the only reason I have marked it 4 and not 5 stars. If you don't mind a bit of artistic license in your history to enhance the experience, I'd say go for it!
Having read another of Holland's books, Persian Fire, and been impressed, I was not disappointed with this one, having been recommended by Dan Carlin.
No. This book was a hash job FULL of gossip from various sources. There is no reason to believe any of it. The author and publisher had to know this was bad literature but they put it out anyway. The phrase Junk Food comes readily to mind...
No. In his narration of this book Steven Crossley sounded like an English gadabout at a mid 19th century dinner party trying to serve up something scintillating and shocking. Neither of which was realized. Rather this is gossip stew done rather better by Suetonius in his tome about the 12 Caesars.
Had it been based on quality material perhaps it would have made the narration rise to the task.
I am disappointed that this was made available. I am even more shocked at all the positive reviews. This teaches me to never base my selection on a review anymore.
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