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Publisher's Summary

Caesar Augustus's story, one of the most riveting in western history, is filled with drama and contradiction, risky gambles and unexpected success. He began as a teenage warlord, whose only claim to power was as the heir of the murdered Julius Caesar. Mark Antony dubbed him "a boy who owes everything to a name," but in the years to come the youth outmaneuvered all the older and more experienced politicians and was the last man standing in 30 BC. Over the next half century, he reinvented himself as a servant of the state who gave Rome peace and stability, and created a new system of government-the Principate, or rule of an emperor. Adrian Goldsworthy pins down the man behind the myths: a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless. Under Augustus's rule, the empire prospered, yet his success was never assured, and the events of his life unfolded with exciting unpredictability.

©2014 Adrian Goldsworthy (P)2014 Tantor Media

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

You know my name...say it.

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.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book about Rome's first Emperor

What made the experience of listening to Augustus the most enjoyable?

As a fan of Roman History I really liked the attention to detail and depth that this book went into. Instead of being a general overview as many books on this period are, the book explored Augustus the man.

What did you like best about this story?

The detail, the description. How the setting was created and maintained by both the author and the narrator was excellent.

Have you listened to any of Derek Perkins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have listened to Mr. Perkins' rendition of all of Adrian Goldsworthy's work, and they are all fantastic.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not moved so much as was interesting. Learning about the Augustus' love of bawdy poetry and similar quirks was very interesting.

Any additional comments?

If you like history, not just Roman history, listen to this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • mtc
  • Little Rock, Ar
  • 10-22-14

Insightful

Would you consider the audio edition of Augustus to be better than the print version?

Yes! The printed version is good, but the narrator really brings the story to life.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found odd similarities to modern life in the United States. Both the religious groups and the state tend to act in similar ways to the ancient Romans.

Any additional comments?

Definitely worth the price.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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an excellent character evaluation

A great listen, very informative and upfront about what we know and what is uncertain. Goldsworthy is an excellent historian for those with a budding interest in Roman history

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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easy to follow well written

very well written book goldsworthy always does an excellent job with any of his Antiquity novels about Roman literature plenty of references to Antiquity Works which makes it very easy to follow and put them into a timeline that's easy to understand

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • AlexIndia
  • Fort Worth, TX, United States
  • 01-08-17

Detailed report of Augustus

I have listened to the book on Julius Caesar and the book on the fall of the Roman Empire. All of Derrick Perkins books are very detailed and somewhat analytical. Obviously I enjoy them or I would not have bought them. Of those that I have listen to so far I think that I like this one the best however I have not heard the one on Cleopatra and Marc Anthony and I have not heard the one on pox Romana. I would recommend this book but I would recommend that you should read the one on Julius Caesar before as it is a prequel to this one on agustus Cesar

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 10-25-15

Fantastic reading (listening) experience!

After listening to Caesar I couldn't get enough. Adrian Goldsworthy does it again and even exceeded his previous book with this one. He manages to convey a post-graduate class hidden within the joy of reading a novel. I can't wait to read How Rome Fell and honestly I would listen to the Oxford Dictionary if it were read by Derek Perkins, he is the very best narrator in my opinion.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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"Caesar" leftovers reheated.

Any additional comments?

I was so enthralled by Goldsworthys' "Caesar" that I immediately downloaded Augustus. I have to say I was disappointed though. First, to be fair to the author, Augustus had a lifetime to craft his public image by censorship, destruction of correspondence, and editing of historical narrative. So, while Goldsworthy had an abundance of source material to work with in "Caesar," he was much more limited in the case of Augustus. I get that, and understand.

Now, having said that, it is obvious in this book that while Goldsworthy loves Caesar, Augustus is more of a cash cow. The material and narrative isn't as engaging and some of the book clearly recycles portions of "Caesar." The author also strangely spends time reaching back to Sulla while almost sprinting through the war with Antony/Cleopatra - surely Goldsworthy knew that the causal reader would be interested in this clash (thanks billy shakespeare!), so why did he spend time reaching back to pre-Caesar while rushing through Augustus' early life? You could argue historical completeness, but it smacks of love for Caesar/disinterest in Augustus - like he had so much material, he couldn't stand to waste it on just one book, and his publisher said "heck, you have so much on Augustus, you may as well write one about him too," and Goldsworthy said, "sure, why not. I've gotta pay the mortgage..."

I'm only so hard on him because this work was so much smaller when it stands next to Caesar. It's a decent read, and Perkins is a fantastic narrator as usual, but I believe that the author should have done better by the old Princeps.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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The man who owed everything to a name

Who are the great historic figures? As a general rule we seem to consider those who had a great impact on their times and subsequent history as great, but if you were to ask people to name the great figures from Roman history you would likely get the names Julius Caesar, Cicero, perhaps the two Catos and Sulla. You might also get the names of some of the more notorious Roman emperors, Caligula and Nero, but would probably not get the name Augustus, although he had a far more lasting impact on Roman history than any of the others, including Julius Caesar. Perhaps Mr Goldsworthy is right in saying that part of that reason is that Shakespeare never wrote a tragedy about him, but his story, from being the young adopted son of Julius Caesar to his rise in power to being the most powerful and long lasting figure in Rome, is nothing short of astonishing and this book does a great service in explaining how the young Gaius Octavius rose to become the most powerful man in Rome and to live long enough to die peacefully in his bed at the age of 77.

This is the second of Mr Goldsworthy's biographies that I have read, the first being that of Julius Caesar, and the two books blend together nicely with the story of the young Octavius picking up with the assassination of Julius Caesar and, while the history of the Roman Civil War that stemmed from that event is interesting enough itself, the story of how young Octavius became Caesar Augustus, ruled Rome in a veiled monarchy and implemented relatively honest government was far more interesting to me. The fact that he was not a great general but relied upon his friend and associate Agrippa for many of his victories just seems to prove how great a man he was.

Mr Goldsworthy's writing is, as always, first class, and the story never failed in holding my interest. One of the things that I have found appealing in Mr Goldswrothy's writing is his constant honesty and even-handedness. When there is more than one explanation as to what might have happened, or in the circumstances surrounding some event, he always gives all of the possibilities along with his belief as to which is correct and why, and he never states conjecture as fact or describes the thoughts in the head of someone whose thoughts he could not possibly have known. The writing is straight forward and clear, the descriptions easy to understand and the influence of previous events always described. In short this is a great book, read wonderfully by Derek Perkins, and the reader can not fail to come away with a better understanding of the Rome of this period.

One last comment. Some have described Caesar Augustus as the cause of the end of the Roman Republic, but this book and the biography of Julius Caesar have done much to make clear that the Roman Republic actually died a long time before young Octavius set out to avenge his father's assassination. Julius Caesar stated that the Roman Republic was dead long before he brought his army back from Gaul and became dictator and Mike Duncan's book The Storm Before The Storm dates the decline and death of the Roman Republic back to the days of Pompey The Great and possibly earlier. If anything this book makes a strong case that Augustus' actions did more to save Rome than to destroy it, although those actions led directly to the excesses of some of the subsequent Emperors and the result of some generals plotting to become the next Emperor.

A great book, excellently read. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.



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Founder of an Empire

Performance was great, story is great, my only criticism, and this is not directed at Mr. Goldsworthy, is that there is so little reliable written history of this period that much of the story is conjecture or the author's decision about what is most likely from conflicting sources. It does seem that there is a good survey of the sources available though, so in many cases the reader can make their own decision about key events. Overall, Augustus is more inscrutable (and still is) for me than Julius Caesar, probably because he lived long enough to censor the history about himself.