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Publisher's Summary

The Spartacus War is the extraordinary story of the most famous slave rebellion in the ancient world, the fascinating true story behind a legend that has been the inspiration for novelists, filmmakers, and revolutionaries for 2,000 years.

Starting with only 74 men, a gladiator named Spartacus incited a rebellion that threatened Rome itself. With his fellow gladiators, Spartacus built an army of 60,000 soldiers and controlled the southern Italian countryside. A charismatic leader, he used religion to win support. An ex-soldier in the Roman army, Spartacus excelled in combat. He defeated nine Roman armies and kept Rome at bay for two years before he was defeated. After his final battle, 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along Rome's main southern highway.

The Spartacus War is the dramatic and factual account of one of history's great rebellions. Spartacus was beaten by a Roman general, Crassus, who had learned how to defeat an insurgency. But the rebels were partly to blame for their failure. Their army was large and often undisciplined; the many ethnic groups within it frequently quarreled over leadership. No single leader, not even Spartacus, could keep them all in line. And when faced with a choice between escaping to freedom and looting, the rebels chose wealth over liberty, risking an eventual confrontation with Rome's most powerful forces. The result of years of research, The Spartacus War is based not only on written documents but also on archaeological evidence, historical reconstruction, and the author's extensive travels in the Italian countryside that Spartacus once conquered.

©2009 Barry Strauss (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Strauss admits the lack of reliable primary sources has forced him to engage in some tricky conjectures regarding the character and motivation of Spartacus. Still, many of his assertions are credible, and his efforts to portray the political and social milieu of Italy during the late Republic are superbly done. Strauss sees Spartacus as a brave and charismatic leader who was limited by some personal shortcomings." ( Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 08-02-15

Interesting

This is a story of the gladiator, Spartacus. He was brought from Thrace (Bulgaria) to fight in an area in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. In about 73 to 71 B.C. Spartacus and seventy other gladiators broke out armed with kitchen utensils. For two years he led a growing band of runaway slaves in a revolt. Strauss points out that Spartacus was a Murmillo gladiator who had served as a Thracian auxiliary to the Roman Army where he learned Roman military tactics.

Strauss is a Professor of Classics at Cornell University. Strauss has a fine balance between accessibility and scholarship, imagination and responsibility. It is not always an easy balance to strike but Strauss did a good job. The book reads like a thriller but grounded in history. Strauss wove history into an exciting story.

The author points out that the goal of the rebellion was vengeance not to abolish slavery. Strauss stresses that Spartacus had exceptional principles and he liked the idea of equality. Spartacus died charging the Roman general Crassus who led the campaign against him.

Strauss has not only created a history of the slave war but a campanian travelogue. The book was well written and easy to read for a history book. Roy Grover narrated the book.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

a good clear overall of the famous events

the facts are well separate from legend and Assumption. even fans of the Stars over sexy and violent Spartacus will find this overall fact from truth interesting. i was surprise how much..( and who) was really part of history. so much isn't known but i felt i got a proper understanding of there war of the damned. only thing i wondered about was the author was very sure he was a Thraicin .. i had always heard we couldn't be sure.
also don't remember any issue with reader.. so i guess it was fine

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bob
  • Las Vegas, NV, United States
  • 07-21-16

One of the better books about history!

Would you listen to The Spartacus War again? Why?

I will listen to it again, this guy should write text books about history! I couldn't stop listening, I expected your typical dry fact based history book. Instead I got fact based history presented with engaging analysis!

Who was your favorite character and why?

It wasn't that kind of book, but the constant review of the Leadership styles made this book a non-stop listen...

Which character – as performed by Ray Grover – was your favorite?

Not really a character driven book, but even knowing Rome wins the writer makes you wish they had not! The voice is so smooth you become lost in the writing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This is that rare book that's read AFTER seeing the Starz TV series!

Any additional comments?

Buy this book even if you HATE history as a subject and crack a beer...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A great read!

I've read many books about Rome and most put the Servile Wars as a foot note to a larger story - This book was a great addition to understand more about the Third Servile war in Rome. Would highly recommend.

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Great Story, So-so Audio

If you could sum up The Spartacus War in three words, what would they be?

Cuts Through Myths

What did you like best about this story?

The author has a way of balancing historical accuracy with word pictures that stick in your mind and make you remember scenes as if you had been there. The book starts with a Roman senator scrambling naked out of his bath as rebels attack; he winds up naked and dead on the battle field at the end of the day.

What about Ray Grover’s performance did you like?

His narration is lively. You can almost hear the smile in his voice. The writing is not dry, and the narration matches it.

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

I love history that teaches me something new. I've read many books on Rom, but this one brings details I didn't know to life.

Any additional comments?

The audio quality is not great: quiet and lacking higher frequencies. Because it's consistent, it's only jarring when you first start listening. After a few moments, your brain adjusts.

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Good but not very flowing

I really enjoyed this book and It is filled with facts and research. The story goes off on tangents like crazy. I struggled understanding what he was saying. Half the story has nothing to do with Spartacus. But I definitely a very informational read. I’d still read it but give a strong warning when recommending

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Brilliant Story.

Strauss wove a fascinating narrative from limited sources.

Good clear narration, BUT when while Audible voice actors take the time to learn the proper pronounceation of names and places!

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Enjoyable read for fans of Roman history...

But the only significant flaw I noticed was in the performance: riddled with bad pronunciation. Good read otherwise I thought

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A Concise Overview

For those who want the in-depth story, this is probably as good as it gets as details on Spartacus aren't exactly forthcoming from the jaws of history. On the whole, this telling is rather insightful, all things considered, and the narrative is extremely engaging for even those not familiar with the topic.

I would say the narrator is really good for this, except there are certain pronounciation issues I have. Most notably, the word "Celtic" is a frequent offender. Rather than describing the warriors of western Europe, many of whom fought with Spartacus, the narrator uses the soft "C," which makes me cringe as I think about basketball players taking on the Roman legions. If that's true, no wonder the rebellion failed! In all seriousness, though, if you can get past that, the narrator is a lively speaker and well-suited for this sort of work.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • George
  • Tucson, AZ, United States
  • 03-05-10

Not for Historians

I started out enjoying this book, the author's style and the narrator are enjoyable. However by the last chapter i was purely cringing. The author makes constant use of "it is possible" or "he might of" to build large parts of the narrative. The historian job is to interpret the facts and present them in a digestible manner, using smart interpolation when necessary. Is possible that Augustus though of Spartacus on his death bed? Yes, does evidence support this even remotely? NO! This is just plain out bad history.

3 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Dave
  • 10-27-10

Will the real Spartacus please stand...

This book freely admits that the evidence for the Spartacus war is thin on the ground and often contradictory, so if you only wanted to stick to known facts than you could barely fill a pamphlet. As it turns out 6+ hours is a pretty good length as the author does much to flesh out the facts with a good background of the period and a number of suppositions which may or may not be true but help to keep the story going. I can't vouch for the authenticity, but the book does well in telling the story and describing the world in which it occurred.

I found the American accent of the narrator jarring at first, but he reads well enough. The repeated insertion of modern names for ancient places is quite annoying, particularly when they are little different, but anyone interested in the Republican Roman world will enjoy this book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful