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Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire Paperback – July 3, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Effectively profiles several important figures from Rome's history . . . recommended for public libraries."  —Library Journal

About the Author

Simon Baker is a member of the BBC's award-winning History Unit where he has worked on a wide range of programs about the classical world. He was the development producer on the series Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; Reprint edition (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846072840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846072840
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Anibal Madeira on August 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is the companion to the extremely interesting BBC docudrama series "Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire". The chapters are the same as the series episodes (although in a more logical chronological order), providing background and detail to the events. Reading the book and watching the show, gives the layman a decent knowledge on the event or character and the following repercussions.

Obviously this work has limitations, but contrary to the usual works designed for the general public, Professor Simon Baker from Oxford gives us an unbiased and very accurate depiction of the events.

This work includes 16 pages of color photographs and a good bibliography providing ancient and modern sources for each separate chapters.

After a great introduction by Mary Beard (consultant to the BBC series, a renowned academic and the author of one of the greatest books on Roman History "Pompeii"), Professor Baker gives us a short introduction on the beginnings of Rome.
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129 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Omar Masood on September 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Given the length of the Roman Empire (and as advertised this book covers the origins of the empire from a small city-state), its breadth, its complexity, and its historical importance it is impossible to go in depth in a book of this length. Roman specialists should find a lengthier, more detailed book but for those who are new to Rome (like me), or seeking to acquire just a general understanding of one of the most important--and arguably the most important--civilization in world history this book passes with flying colors.
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106 of 110 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale on May 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
For anyone interested in the history and events that took place in the Roman Empire this book is like manna from heaven. The author relates Roman history in such a way that the book almost reads like a novel, being both exciting and educational. But if truth be told this is far more interesting than any novel.

Rome was after all one of the greatest, if not the greatest empire ever known. There are figures from its past that stick out like beacons. Probably the greatest of them all Julius Caesar and of course his main adversary Pompey. Others out of the many notables include Mark Antony, Nero, Claudius and many more.

There were also Rome's great buildings. The Forum, the circus maximus and the Flavian amphitheatre, now more commonly known as the Colosseum, all built to show potential enemies the might that was Rome. Then on to the true might of Rome, its Legions. An army that comprised the greatest fighting force the world had ever seen. Because of their discipline and rigid training they were at that period in history, virtually unbeatable.

The author pulls all these facts together beautifully to make a book that is not only informative and educational but also high readable as well.
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55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By StringAndStompboxes on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a post-graduate student who is writing his thesis on Marcus Aurelius (He was one of the so called 5 Good Emperors). Anyway needless to say I have studied the Roman Empire extensivly. I read this book, because it was recomended to me by a fellow student. I was not going to read it, as it is a broad overview of a civilization that can hardly be expected to adequately fit into roughly 400 pages. To me it seemed a survey book for those wishing to get a general grasp of the time period, however curiosity got the better of me and I decided to read the book to see this authors take on the subject. Being a survey book I could see no other reason to read it. I was pleasantly suprised. I found the book to read like a novel. Overall the author nails the mood of the time period and inserts the facts needed for an introduction to what Ancient Rome was, where it came from, how it evolved, and the seeds of its undoing. I also enjoyed the period pieces that the author chose to write about, because to fit every major event in Rome's history into 400 pages would be impossible!
Overall I found this book to be an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to learn about Ancient Rome, its culture, politics, military, and what Rome's accomplishments have meant to western civilization.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Caraculiambro on July 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I quite enjoyed this. I found it readable and instructive. One thing I've always done in the past when I wanted to read an account of Roman history is I've always chosen books that were too scholarly and got bogged down in niggling details such as the precise difference between various public offices or laws. This book doesn't make that mistake: it's readable and never boring.

My only complaint would be that since this book was sort of rushed to press (I'm guessing) to coincide with the 6-part (?) BBC series of the same name, the author gives short shrift to stuff that's not actually part of the BBC series, even though it's important for Roman history. Dozens of pages about Nero but only a single paragraph about Caligula, for example -- even though Caligula is arguably more important in the history of the empire since it was during his reign that an omnipotent head of state really went off the rails for the first time.

Also very little on Sulla, for the same reason: the video version gives that period short shrift so this book does too.

I could think of many examples of this.
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