From Publishers Weekly
Nero's suicide in June of A.D. 68 touched off a tumultuous year in the Roman Empire, full of political intrigue, social upheaval and military disorder. With judicious historical insight, Morgan, who teaches classics and history at the University of Texas–Austin, provides a first-rate history of this chaotic year while challenging many of the reigning theories. Unlike earlier books, Morgan's incorporates the versions of Tacitus, Plutarch, Suetonius and Dio in his quest for a balanced account. Galba was the first of four emperors to rule in this one-year span. But he never achieved popularity, and Otho, one of Nero's closest companions, murdered him in January 69 and took the reins. A civil war erupted between Otho's supporters and those of Vitellius, leading to Otho's suicide in April. The Senate then confirmed Vitellius as emperor, though his nine-month reign was marked by great extravagance. In December, the Senate acclaimed Vespasian, who had murdered Vitellius, as emperor, and he brought an end, temporarily, to the civil strife in the empire. Despite its turbulence, Morgan prudently points out that the year 69 was not the period of total anarchy that others have claimed. Although at times pedantic and even turgid, Morgan's book provides a superb portrait of this enigmatic and intriguing year. 4 maps. (Dec.)
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"Morgan's book is a fresh and accessible look at a period that has been discussed, with sometimes horrified fascination, since antiquity itself."--Times Literary Supplement
"Morgan's acute analyses and wry judgments on each episode as well as the whole year are indispensable, however one might differ on details, for he is never satisfied with the obvious or even the ingenious; his analysis of Othonian strategy before Bedriacum is particularly striking."--The International History Review
"A superb portrait of this enigmatic and intriguing year."--Publishers Weekly
"Few people rival Gwyn Morgan in knowledge of Tacitus' Histories. The result is a fine narrative, cogent and convincing, of this momentous year."--Herbert W. Benario, author of Tacitus Germany
"This important book on the Histories
of Tacitus surpasses earlier works on the civil wars that shook Rome and its empire in the year of 69. Like Tacitus, Morgan illuminates the universal themes that make the history of this one year significant for all time--the political and social upheavals consequent on a contested transfer of power; the nature of military and political leadership, the psychology of the military and civilian masses who are involved in, or spectators of, civil war. General readers will be enlightened and moved by Morgan's narrative, while specialists will appreciate the solid scholarship on which it is founded."--Mark Morford, Professor of Classics Emeritus, University of Virginia
"Gwyn Morgan has produced a long-awaited and engagingly written account of the Year of Four Emperors that is unfailingly instructive and a pleasure to read. Not surprisingly, since it is based on a careful reconsideration of all the sources, while it will provide enjoyment for many, it will also prove controversial in some quarters."--Leslie Murison, author of Galba, Otho and Vitellius: Careers and Controversies