Herod the Great provides this memoir from Hell because he wishes to set the record straight. Herod finds historic figures in Hell to help him, including his son Herod Antipas, who ruled during Jesus' crucifixion; Cleopatra, who at first befriended and then turned on Herod; Marc Antony, who made him King of the Jews. We also meet such characters as Caesar Augustus, Pilate, Pope Leo X, Martin Luther, and Henry VIII. In this memoir, Herod solves some mysteries regarding the lives of various Roman emperors, John the Baptist, Jesus, and John, the beloved apostle. For example, in conversations with his son Antipas, Herod discovers what is meant by the apostle John being called the one Jesus loved in two books of the Bible. Herod also provides a new interpretation of the Book of Revelation. He explores the philosophies of his reign including Epicurean, Stoic, and Neoplatonic thought, providing the reader with an additional educational experience. While the book focuses on the life of Herod, its scope is larger in order to provide a proper context for the subject matter. For example, since Herod is overthrown at one point by Antigonus of the Hasmonean line of Jews, it is important to understand that the Hasmoneans were direct descendants of the Maccabees who freed the Jews from Greek rule.
Since Nero's suicide precipitates the Jewish revolt and subsequent destruction of the Herod's Temple for the Jews, the circumstances of Nero's self-destruction are laid out. The distinguishing features of the audiobook include Herod's first person narrative, his conversations with other historical figures, a portrait of life in Hell including its path to redemption, research documented in footnotes, and a detailed history of Herodian dynasty set into context including interaction with the Roman Empire, the Jews of Antiquity, and the Christian leadership.
I really liked this story. Wasn't going to comment, but I couldn't let the single one-star review go unresponded to. This book is obviously fictional and has its tongue firmly in cheek. I understand that Herod is a polarizing figure historically but this story is so obviously not trying to represent itself as reality (it's set in hell after all) that this wasn't a hang up for me personally in enjoying the story.
I couldn't help but get a kick out of this fictional character struggling in a very amusing way to untangle the nature of Judeo-Christian beliefs as a means to move up from the lower levels of hell to higher ones. One thing I will say is that this hell sounds a lot more like a kind of historical old folks home w fun activities and plenty of booze than anything I have to been led to expect from the Bible. I do agree w another reviewer that the passing reference to Hurricane Katrina as one of Satan's works was in very poor taste and fell flat as what I suspect was meant to be a joke. That was one of a few blemishes on the story. Overall tho this book was a good time w a good narrator and I would listen to it again.