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Publisher's Summary

Stephen Dando-Collins paints a vivid and definitive portrait of daily life in the Tenth Legion as he follows Caesar and his men along the blood-soaked fringes of the Empire. This unprecedented regimental history reveals countless previously unknown details about Roman military practices, Caesar's conduct as a commander and his relationships with officers and legionnaires, and the daily routine and discipline of the Legion.

From penetrating insights into the mind of history's greatest general to a grunt's-eye view of the gruesome realities of war in the Classical Age, this unique and riveting true account sets a new standard of excellence and detail to which all authors of ancient military history will now aspire.

©2002 Stephen Dando-Collins (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Written in a readable, popular style, this book is a must for military buffs and anyone interested in Roman history at a critical point in European civilization." (T.R. Fehrenbach, author of Lone Star)

What listeners say about Caesar's Legion

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

Brilliant, but biased.

First of all, the historical research is brilliant and is delivered in a wonderful narration. If You want to learn more about Ceaser and Rome, this book will not let You down. Lots of fantastic information regarding the period.
That being said, there's also lots of information missing (but to be fair, there is much information out there to behold). The battle retelling were particularly well told.

My issue was with some of the writing. It often glorified war in the retelling and put the Roman Soldiers in the "good guy" role, regardless of ethics.
For example, one line, "...and a little raping and pillaging wouldn't hurt the men's morale, either."
I understand the point of the artificial perspective of the writing is to put the reader in the place of a Roman, but I felt there were some lines that were just unnecessary and didn't need to be there at all.
The language of the book seemed to favor war and generally focused on the glory that some people (like Ceaser) garnered from it. It did not focus on the lives lost and untold pain and suffering unto all people, and that bothered Me.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

You Need Not Be A Scholar . . .

. . . to enjoy this book.

I'm a phase reader. Typically, something will spark my interest in a particular historical person or period, and I'll read several books on the topic before some other spark leads me elsewhere.

In a classical history phase, I listened to "Caesar's Legion" in its entirety, without my interest waning. The details of everyday life in a Roman legion, its recruitment, training, chores, etc. is balanced by the great events and personalities of the time.

I think it can be more difficult sorting out some of the similar sounding names and places of the classical period without the visual cues of print, but I don't mind not having an exact grasp of incidental geography (northern Egypt or western Armenia is good enough) or an assured understanding of each and every proconsul and tribune of the period.

Purists may be put off by a lot of the speculative description the author employs--"Pompous Hubris would have jumped to his feet and rushed to wall for a view of the enemy's approach, barking out a string of orders as he ran"--but he rarely goes beyond this sort of likely human behavior.

The narration, like a lot of others I hear, seems like it may be problematic at first; but as usual (for me, anyway), after 10 minutes, or so, it becomes unobtrusive ... and by the end, you can't imagine any other voice reading the story.

This is not a dense, scholarly tome. A general reader, with an interest in the period, or one just passing through the epoch, should enjoy it quite a bit.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wish there was more

This is the kind of historic story telling I adore. Julius Caesar was an incredible warrior and leader of men. But he may well have laid the ground work for the western world we now live in when he put together 10th Legion circa 60 BC from raw recruits in the Roman territory of Spain and birthed an an entity that would shaped western history for nearly 150 years into the future. The the details of the troop movements and detailed information on what it took to form a legion of fighting man into a coherent force fleshed out the realities of the Roman age. For me it was the personal stories of soldiers that made up the 10th Legion that really what sets this work apart from others. In fact, I was shocked that the 10th eventually found itself on the opposing side of the from Caesar's nephew Octavius and under the leadership of Mark Anthony at Actium.I do wish more detail was provided on Caesar's battle for Alexandria but true to the goal of the work the 10th Legion was not involved in the struggle in Egypt.
Long after the time of Caesar at the end of the Julian dynasty upon the death of Nero, the role played by the 10th Legion in the rise of the Flavian rulers of Rome and the history of the Jewish revolts proved fascinating.
Excellent reading of the work.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Highly Worth It

I've listened to just about all of the audio books I could find that pertain to ancient Rome and I think this one could have been the best one of them all. If interested in this time period, I'd highly recommend listening to this title.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Wealth of Knowledge and Detail

Having recently listened to the very fine introduction to Roman History - The Modern Scholar: A History of Ancient Rome, I was interested in reading a little more in depth about Julius Caesar. Although I have little interest in military history, I thoroughly enjoyed Caesar's Legion and was amazed at the detail and wealth of knowledge about this time in history that is available, and that the author made use of to write this book.

A wonderful storyteller, Dando-Collins gives us a vivid and compelling portrait of Julius Caesar, the man, the military leader, and the legions he fashioned. Although much of the book is devoted to Julius Caesar, several chapters continue the story of the Roman Legions, the 10th in particular, long past his assassination.

Readers with a passion of ancient military history will likely appreciate the book more than I did; however, anyone with an interest in Roman history should find great enjoyment in the book.

Stuart Langton does a fine job of narration.

All in all, a great read!

6 people found this helpful

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Gripping

This book provides an introduction to life in the Roman Empire by focusing specifically on the history of the Tenth Legion -- an elite fighting force of Spaniards that was raised by Julius Caesar and continued on for more than a hundred years after his death. By focusing on the lives of soldiers in ancient Rome, we learn a lot about the lives of the common people, rather than just the aristocracy. The Tenth played a part at most all of the significant battles of the time, including in the conquest of Gaul, the Civil Wars, and the destruction of Jerusalem, so the book is rich in Roman military history. The author is careful to counter the self serving and exaggerated claims of glory that Caesar himself reports in his book "The Conquest of Gaul" with the reports from other historical sources, which tempers Caesar's hyperpole and likely paints a more accurate portrayal of events. It helps if you have some overall knowledge of the history of the death of the Roman Republic and the birth of the Empire, but this is not essential. This book is an excellent read!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Better as hardcopy

Fascinating material; deadly narration. I would have been better served to have read a hardcopy version of this book. The material suits itself well to an index and jumping back to prior battles, legions, locations and individuals. If you truly love history, this may be one of those times that you want to read the book rather than listen to it.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

You should really be interested in the topic first

If you are interested in Roman military history -- REALLY interested in Roman military history, than you have found an ideal audiobook. Essentially, this book is the military history of the Roman empire told through the exploits and history of the 10th Legion. The book does not really concern itself with the details of individual life in the Roman military, as much as it concentrates on battles and key events (where the legion went, where they were placed on the battleline, which unit broke first), with almost half of the book devoted to the Legion's history under Julius Ceaser. Given the high level of detail, it is remarkably well-narrated and engaging, but it is difficult to imagine that someone uninterested in the subject will want to listen to the whole thing, since the strategies and methods of many of the battles is similar (the 10th was usually on the right flank, etc.) and there is very little mention of the non-military history of Rome to spice things up. In short -- great as Roman military history, very good for people interested in the history of the Roman world, and only okay for people interested in general history.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Crastinus

This book does a good job of balancing the big events with the little details that the historical record provides, such as the side-plot involving the life of Crastinus.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

More than I expected.

This comment relates to part I and part II.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read much on ancient Rome so it definately increased my understanding of the legions, of Rome, and of the period in general. I purchased this book primarily because I was interested in learning more about daily life within and tactics of a legion (any legion). Besides interesting tidbits on the daily workings of a legion, the book gave a great historical context. I only expected it to cover the 10th. However,it not only discussed the 10th but, from what I could tell, most of the other legions.

The author did a great job of bringing back to life the individuals of that period. It's interesting to see how everything changes but nothing really changes.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Elspeth
  • 03-25-12

Good read, but a few errors.

Interesting read, at times gets you into into the thick of things and trundles along at a decent pace and content. However the style of writing, especially throwing in relatively modern terminology and ranks into the context of the Roman empire is wrong and very out of place particuarly in the audio format. If you can stomach triremes being called battleships and members of the Roman armed forces being called Colonels you will enjoy it. If that will be irritating to you you will need to resist the urge to thump the author for a decently written book, spoiled by the writing philosophy behind it.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 11-03-09

Caesar's Legion

I felt this was an excellent book, extremely well researched and superbly written. The narrator (Stuart Langton) was also excellent. The book does concentrate on the 10th Legion's early years which is unsurprising and tells the story of Roman legionnaires well. I would have liked more information about the 10th legion's later days as post Caesar & Augustus the portrait does become decidedly broad brush. This is however a minor quibble but is probably a testament to just how good the rest of the book was, leaving me wanting more. It is certainly in a class above the time traveller guide to Middle Ages which I am listening to at the moment. The scholarship, writing style and narration in this book are decidedly top class whilst our medieval friends are more of the semi-pro league.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • mike
  • 03-31-11

caesar's legion

The strength of this book is that it gives a real insight into how the mighty roman military machine actually worked. It helps to put some personal perspective as well as factual detail into the epic of roman history.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • james
  • 04-08-12

A fascinating "listen", packed full of facts

Centered mainly around the X Legion's time with Caesar in Gaul, the Civil War and in the Jewish Revolt the narrative is well constructed. It lacked the "daily life" detail I expected but still provides a huge amount on the Roman Army in battle and particularly their dogged determination and ingenuity in sieges. Thoroughly enjoyable.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • C. D. Turner
  • 06-07-11

Good history

Interesting to follow one Legion through the late Republic and then the Empire, would have been better if modern terms for rank and types of ships had not been used, and some of the parrelells drawn with WWII, are questionable and do not add to the story. But a great book and a good listen.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin
  • 08-14-21

The Tenth Legion

I thought this was a fantastic book. Very well researched , it explained Roman thinking and attitudes as well as pure military history. It did get a bit repetitive with battle after battle , but that’s Roman history for you. I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin foley
  • 08-10-21

Fascinating

Well narrated, interesting and enjoyable read. The book paints a vivid picture of life in an active Roman army

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wow
  • 08-08-21

Fantastic

I loved this book from start to finish. I even enjoyed the way the author used ranking systems which the average reader might be more familiar with. Thanks!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • frank holloway
  • 07-24-21

very interesting and well structured book.

Very interesting book and well narrated. builds a picture of each battle and an in look depth on the legions.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Trebor
  • 12-16-17

Excellent

I enjoyed listening to this.
It brought the scenes to life.
Anyone interested in The Roman Empire should
have a listen.
Recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 09-12-19

A Must Listen

An insight into the legions of the late republic and early empire told with their perspective in mind rather than that of their commanders.

The benefit of this is that is gives further context to the origins of each legion, their political leanings and gives a deeper understanding of why there were defections or fierce loyalty.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sean
  • 07-13-19

great historical take on a famous unit

I think if you have an interest in ancient Rome. this is a must read / listen. Great amount of detail, very informative. Even some of the humour soldiers manage to get up to managed to make its way in. The part of the naked Legionary digging trenches equipped with only his sword, had me laughing out loud. And rang very true to me. The Tenth was a unit that was world famous back in antiquity, and remains so today. And this book allows you to know more about the men and their leaders. And the battles they were involved in. Many thanks to the author.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • AT CT
  • 05-26-19

Brilliant!

Well worthwhile listening to. Both engaging and interesting throughout.

Broken down in a way that even a newcomer to the period can follow the history being presented to the listeners. Good narration also.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Keith Uhm
  • 06-07-22

Easy listening.

Easy narration to listen to. The narrator's style is relaxing. The detail of the content impresses,

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • James Martin
  • 01-03-22

Allround great listening

Stuart Langton does a great job narrating this interesting, informative view of what life was like as a soldier under the tactical genius leadership of Julius Ceasar. Well worth listening to. Thumbs up

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve
  • 01-03-22

If you’re going to write a history piece, don’t modernise it.

The use of modern day military rank equivalents was clumsy, confusing, inconsistent and often inaccurate.
Rather than converting all the Roman ranks and roles to US military ranks (btw, Field Marshall was never used by the US), why not just add an explanatory chapter outlining the correct Roman structure? In the end it would make more sense and provide a better understanding of the Roman Legions, which is, after all, the subject of the book!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian Saunders
  • 04-05-21

not for historians

use of modern military ranks bad idea. very descriptive considering our lack of original sources