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Caesar: A Biography Paperback – January 31, 1997
"Hitler's Forgotten Children" by Ingrid von Oelhafen
The Lebensborn program abducted as many as half a million children from across Europe. Through a process called Germanization, they were to become the next generation of the Aryan master race in the second phase of the Final Solution. Hitler's Forgotten Children is both a harrowing personal memoir and a devastating investigation into the awful crimes and monstrous scope of the Lebensborn program. Learn more | See related books
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But certain things are just fudged over, and left unclear. I only discovered by reading at the same time in Finley Hooper's "Roman Realities" (o.p.; get it out of the library) that Clodius, who was a wild man and sometime ally/enemy of Caesar, as well as Cicero and others, was the same Clodius who forced Caesar to divorce his wife Pompeia when Clodius allegedly tried to seduce her by dressing as a female slave and infiltrating Caesar's house. This is only symptomatic. The whole Catilinarian conspiracy is similarly befogged with intrigue, which of course it was at the time; but it is the duty of the historian to clarify such events.
All in all, I much prefer Michael Grant's book on Caesar, which is now o.p. too. However, it was shorter, more succinct, and not as rich in speculation as Meier's. This book is very thought-provoking at times, but don't rely on it to give you a coherent picture of this time. For Caesar's remarkable personality, though, it's probably the best.
From Caesars birth to the inevitable Ides of March, Meier educates, analyzes, and explains the person, the time, and the place with remarkable skill and detail. This isn't an edge-of-your-seat sort of reading experience. Instead, it is a comfortably patient, thought provoking book of tremendous scholarly value. Meier artfully avoids a teleological viewpoint striving successfully to explain what Caesar, Cicero, Cato, Pompey, et al, thought and saw then. We note clearly that their experience was much different than what we might see through 2000+ years of reflection.
Of particular interest is the juxtaposition between the Republic of Rome and Caesar. His thirst for recognition and the weakness of the Senate to shunt it presents paradox after paradox as Caesar struggles to control the political game. In the end, both Senate and Caesar submit to an undesired civil war. From there, the power struggle continues as does the edification of the reader.
Though the book may plod in places, these instances are brief and rare. It is well worth the time of any serious reader interested in early Rome and one of the most famous men in recorded history.
However he goes off on these tangents where he wants to prove some points. He declares that JC was an outsider and the republic was bound to fall. Yet he does not bring any proof of these 'facts' to this book. He uses the fact that the republic fell to show that what he said was true. I found this a useless part of the book and skimmed over many paragraphs of his rhetorical questions - Why would Caesar do this? Did he not know? yada yada yada.
I love facts. Give me names, dates, places, events. Leave your opinions in separate sections of the book not interwoven in the bio.
The main point Meier makes is that JC was an outsider to Rome's politics. While in fact he was the opposite. JC was as close to the inside as any of the others in the senatorial class. Meier fails to show a typical insider to contrast with this supposed outsider. Cato, Cicero, Pompey were no different than Caesar with respect to any question of a right to be in Rome or in the Senate. Meiere also fails to say exactly why he thinks JC is an outsider.
Another thing I did not like is the fabricated scenes Meier describes. Here is a bit where he talks of Caesar crossing the Rubicon (page 3 already) "There Caesar halted. He hesitated. Once again, beside the swiftly flowing river swollen by heavy rain, he reviewed the various arguments, then reiterated his decision. For a moment he once again took a detached look at the plan he had already embraced; what he had begun to set in train step by step now appeared to him as an awful vision. All the possible consequences of the enterprise presented themselves in their full horror. Contemplating them, he may have felt dizzy."
I think Meier is dizzy.Read more ›
I slogged through it all, but I did not feel that I had learned very much, beyond the fact that the author is anything but a fan of Julius Caesar. He beats the reader to death with his "inside-outside" theory, his moralizing and philosophizing, but there is very little in the way of hard facts or substantive biography. To be sure, there may be very little information on Caesar's life still extant; however, one still has to contend with some five hundred pages! And I was struck by the fact that there are no foot notes and it is necessary to wait to the first afterward before the author condescends to let the reader know about some of his sources. And in the second afterward, the author admits that he has discovered a salient piece of evidence which tends to put his view of Caesar into question, but immediately denies the importance of same.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a classic. The historical Caesar shines through in a palpably real manner. The author uses historical sources to draw inferences regarding the mind of this epic... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Javier
Amazing story. I loved how well the author placed Carsar in both ancient and modern perspective. I actually read this book side beside with an historical fiction series. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Barbara B.
I like this historian. I picked this up after finishing Meier's work on Athens (which is excellent). I wasn't quite as thrilled with this book but it was worth reading. Read morePublished 8 months ago by N. Perz
Unquestionably, in my view, the finest biography of Caesar, now in English. English readers should understand, with its deep knowledge of sources, crucially the history of the... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
a superb source of information and if you need to check facts, the best.Published 14 months ago by Fred Graham-yooll
After reading the many (reasonably) negative reviews, I can only say that I am so so so proud to have completed - line by plodding line - the book, and find the effort worthwhile. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Serendivinny
very comprehensive, be advised it does not read like a magazine article. By far the best book on Caesar that I've read, and the only other biography in its league is Morris' Edith... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Ronny McMann
There is much to be learned about Caesar and his times from this exhaustive work--who knew about the Social War that preceded the Civil War? Read morePublished on February 7, 2014 by Philip K. Edwards