• Spartacus

  • By: Howard Fast
  • Narrated by: Julian Elfer
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (533 ratings)

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Spartacus  By  cover art

Spartacus

By: Howard Fast
Narrated by: Julian Elfer
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Publisher's Summary

Spartacus, a fictionalization of a slave revolt in ancient Rome in 71 BC, is well known today because of the 1960 movie starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier. It was originally published in 1951 by Fast himself, after being turned down by every mainstream publisher of the day because of Fast's blacklisting for his Communist Party sympathies. The story of Spartacus, born a slave, trained as a gladiator, who led a slave revolt that was eventually put down by Crassus, was immensely popular and went on to sell millions of copies.

©1951 Howard Fast (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Spartacus

Average Customer Ratings
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WoW that was the Best Audiobook Ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I loved the movie, but this book was not about battles and very different than the movie. It is about the Human Condition and what we do with the brief time we have on Earth. It does very well with character development. You can see these people in your mind's eye. The narrator, the revealed thoughts, and the dialogue are extremely meaningful. It is a spiritual journey of the human condition without God. I thought the whole thing simply amazing and it is hard to put into words. It also is really about modern times and not the past, and our need for purpose and justification. This was the only flawless audiobook I have read because it had a deep meaning that goes to the heart of life and ideals that give life meaning.

10 people found this helpful

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Awful

Absurdly awful. Bland prose and Marxist rhetoric combine to make an insipid story with two dimensional characters. Do yourself a favor and pass on this.

9 people found this helpful

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No Plot

I listened for 1 1/2 hours and had to stop because I was so bored. The book was slow paced, has no discernible plot, and seems to focus on ancient Roman atrocities and vices. Don’t waste your time.

7 people found this helpful

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Favorite read of 2017

Gripping. Compelling. Couldn’t recommend more highly. I was thoroughly engrossed in the narrative and meta narrative.

5 people found this helpful

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Just great!

Loved every minute! Beautiful, violent story that swept me up in the Roman slave revolt. Great story, narration and performance!

5 people found this helpful

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Had potential but buried by agenda.

Perhaps I was hoping too much from a professed communist leaning author, but I had hoped his agendas wouldn't tinge the story too badly. I was wrong, and it is too bad as it was an engaging and fairly well written story. As a piece of fiction. we can look past some of the historical inaccuracies, but assigning homosexuality to all the great and powerful men of the book, besides completely unnecessary; was ridiculous. The book could have done without his soap box preaching the virtues of socialism as well. It could have been a good book, as it is.... it is passable if you are bored and don't mind believing that every powerful Roman was gay.

3 people found this helpful

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turgid and self congratulatory

The author made a point of putting forth his Communist bona fides from the start which making it only three chapters in kept wearing on me. The style is not particularly flowing or enjoyable

2 people found this helpful

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Problems with narration

The reader was potentially a very good reader, but he would go from almost a very soft whisper to very loud. I spent a good deal of time going back to try and hear the whispered parts. Very annoying. The story was OK, but I remember the movie being better. That's rare for me. Usually the book is better. It was very interesting to note the perspective of the author. His views of ancient Rome were from a decidedly communist perspective. I will admit I dont know enough about ancient Rome to challenge the author's view, but I do wonder if the wealth and power of the empire was built solely on the backs of laborer and slave labor. Where the aristocracy did nothing but idle their days away (sounding very much like 19th century British aristocrats). Maybe, but interesting from the view of an admitted communist. To me it was also fascinating that his description of the ideal man, Spartacus, was very much like Jesus as described in the gospel of John. A pure and worthy human being, not about power over people, but about love, and worth, and the value of human life.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking....

First I read it, then I listened to it. Now, the story of this simple man is part of my life. Thank you, Howard Fast.

2 people found this helpful

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great classic

beautifull and eppic story. a classic book. loved it very much. the narrator is very good.

1 person found this helpful

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  • David
  • 08-20-21

Not what I expected

I was expecting blood & guts & battles; there was almost none of this. Large parts are about Roman nobles, soldiers and leaders (and to a lesser extent their slaves). It’s more than two hours in before Spartacus even gets a significant mention.
The lives of slaves, including gladiators, forms a large part but there are no big battle scenes.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book but some may prefer an abridged version if one exists.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-05-21

Great listen sadly still apt for the time we're in

Really great story. Unfortunately it's still very apt for the times we live in. thought provoking, well worth a listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Louise
  • 03-15-17

Good story. well told.

enjoyed it very much. Was disappointed when it finished. Can picture the characters in the film as I read. Not a bad thing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Headteacher666
  • 12-13-16

Blood and Defiance!

I was handed this novel to read almost forty years ago as a young student aged seventeen, as part of the English Literature syllabus for O Level. It was the first truly adult novel I'd read, and its fascinating time structure, it's incredible characters and its sweeping themes gripped me. My incredible lecturer, Dave Roden, showed me its power, force and beauty and I have never forgotten the significance it had for me. Several years later, I was reading English at university. I've never stopped loving books.
I came across this audiobook because I haven't, in all truth, read the book since my teens - but what a treat it was. It is beautifully read and brought the story to life in a way that text on a page doesn't do. It is exciting, touching and dramatic and transports you to a world of superficial order and justice which, you learn, exists only because of its hideous brutality. Men are tortured and butchered for the amusement of the rich - until a man stands up and fights it,
I would urge anyone and everyone to listen to it. Unmissable.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-20-22

Roy Williams

loved it the narrator was excellent he brought home the realism of Spartacus. Brilliant

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  • Norma Miles
  • 10-10-22

"We now live in a land of slaves."

Superb.
I had expected a blood, sword and military battles extravaganza. Yes, there was a little of of this, how could there not be with Roman legions defeated nearly six and a half thousand executed by crucifixion along the Apian Way? But the film with Kirk.Douglas this is not. Set mostly retrospectively after the majority of the executions, the story is told in conversations and speculation about character, freedom, fear, fighting and supremacy. It allows for so much more flexibility and for the reader to form parallels with radical supression within the government of the day.

As with all audio productions, the book was also dependent on a good narrator, and Julian Elder is one such, reading well with fine timing and inflection, helping to bring all of the pictures to life. Although there is little definition between voices, who is speaking is never in doubt.
programme
An excellent novel both of its time and today. Highly recommended, and currently available for free on the Audible Plus programme.

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  • Aggie B.
  • 09-11-22

Brilliant, touching, thought provoking story.

I loved it, great story narrated with passion and care, triumph of human spirit.

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  • Edward Hodges
  • 08-31-22

Legend

I think most people know the story of Spartacus but this book is so well written, moving back and forwards with the various characters throughout the story. The narration was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-27-22

Great book

Great book and written so well. adds a new dimension to the movie I watched as a child.

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  • Mr O J Odigie
  • 06-27-22

An absolute masterpiece!!!

This book should be taught in schools as literature, it was written so beautifully and powerfully!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-28-22

Read the hard copy

Wouldn’t bother with the audiobook, half of it is read in such a low volume you can’t hear it, makes for frustrating listen when you constantly have to go back, turn the volume right to hear what was said then have your ears blown when it goes back to normal volume.

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  • Attila
  • 09-29-20

The book still resonates..

Resonates to our time more than ever as one can draw parrallels to the wests abundance and spritual crisis to that of the plight of the romans in this book. Excellent for pondering on the themes of the book days after you have finished it

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  • mrs
  • 09-25-16

This book is one of my all time faves

I love this book, first read it as a teenager and enjoyed rereading/listening to it again. It is a great story and also has a lot of depth for anyone interested in the lives of the ancient Romans.