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Publisher's Summary

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 civilisation, 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)2019 Hachette Audio UK
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"The book that really held me, in fact, obsessed me, was Rubicon...This is narrative history at its best. Bloody and labyrinthine political intrigue and struggle, brilliant oratory, amazing feats of conquest and cruelty." (Ian McEwan, Books of the Year, Guardian

"Marvellously readable." (Niall Ferguson)

What listeners say about Rubicon

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A well written narrative history

Tom Holland knows how to make ancient history come to life. Excellent narration by Mark Meadows, as usual.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent in every way

Tom Holland weaves a fascinating and passionate account of all the hosts of characters involved in the fall of the Republic.

It took a bit of time getting used to the narrator. But eventually it was quite good.

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  • Fitz
  • 06-18-20

Great story let down by monotonous narration

The book covers much the same ground as Mary Beard's SPQR, though in somewhat greater detail. However I was constantly having to rewind and listen to a passage again because my attention wandered. I don't think this is a problem with the book but with the narration. It's not flat, but almost every sentence seems to follow a set pattern of intonation and emphasis which I found quite wearing once I latched onto it.

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  • Andy Cochrane
  • 09-24-20

Brilliant Highly recommend.

I loved this book and got through it really quickly. Holland is a great writer. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in Romans. I'll definitely be listening to more of his books.

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  • J. Wexler
  • 09-03-20

Factual, accurate, dry.

Solid history but dryly written. Performance clear and crisp with even volume and tempo. Recitation as dry as the facts presented. I enjoy my history a bit more flavorful, i.e. Mary Beard or Barbara Tuchman.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-25-20

Ave Caesar

This book is excellent in providing the journey from the brith of the republic, and then slowly plots the destruction of what at the time was comparable today seeing the proud petriotic american seeing his country descend into a civil war, a dictatourship, two popular uprisings, a oligarichal dictatourship, and then explodes into another civil war, then after that another dictatourship. After all that you can only imagine the desperation for it to end. All of this is compounded by excellent narration which gives life to the sheer magatude of these larger then life figures who's names still echo throughout our culteral psyche. Well worth it in my opinion.

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  • Emily C.
  • 11-30-19

Really, really interesting

Whilst this is a mammoth tome, it was truly fascinating and the lives of Romans are surprisingly familiar. With, perhaps, a touch more murder than we have today.

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  • Glenn Michael Harper
  • 05-11-22

What a shame. Awful narration.

An engaging and insightful account by Holland of the machinations underlying republican era Rome.

This is completely ruined by the repetitive cadence of Mark Meadows, who begins narrating after the introduction. His narration isn't the worst to have been encountered, but his technique of repeating every paragraph in the same delivery turns what should have been a fantastic listen into sheer drudgery.

An awful shame that Holland couldn't have taken the mantle and narrated the book himself as his narration is sheer brilliance in the introduction.

Champion horse, wrong jockey.

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  • Karrie
  • 04-18-22

Chronological and brilliant

Fantastic account of the run up to the end of the Roman Republic and the entrance of Augustus. Beautifully put together with in depth info about all the main players. Excellent narration too. I was glued to this. Particularly enjoyed the timeline at the end, which zoomed through the whole period. What an incredible time in human history.

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  • Duncerman
  • 09-14-21

A masterpiece if you like this period in history!

i loved this book. Its not written like other historical books and somehow reads, or listens, like a story. If you are awestruck by all things Roman, this book will not disappoint. All Tom Holland's books are now on my bucket list. One proviso, battle descriptions and tactics are not covered in great depth. This is a book about the pains, politics and aspirations of the Roman people and its Republic. Its beliefs and what fueled its ambitions. i can see where Richard Harris latterly got his facts for his brilliant Cicero trilogy. This book is pure Parthian Gold!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-08-21

Historiography at its best.

An amazingly well written epitaph to the Roman Republic. Well worth your time and very accessible for all readers.

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  • Steve
  • 08-07-21

Love💘

I have read this book twice and have to say loved this gem on audible even more.Love love love😘😘

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-28-20

A wonderful, comprehensive view of the decline of the Republic

Tom Holland, as ever, weaves a terrific narrative of the decline and fall of the Roman Republic (the more interesting period of Rome).
From the Gracchi attempted reforms all the way to Octavian ascending to August and absolutely everything in between, this is a must for a Roman enthusiast.
Tom Holland is an expert on all civil wars, from Sulla vs Marius to Cpt America vs Iron Man