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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour de Force in Roman History
I think this book is brilliant. Michael Grant does not leave the reader wondering "What happened in Rome?" All the basic historical information that a beginner, or even someone more sophisticated, may want to know about Rome is here in this book. This is not as much a textbook, as a sophisticated popular history of Rome, which in my opinion is the strength, and...
Published on October 14, 2000 by unraveler

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3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dry, and it only skims the surface!
Customer Video Review     Length:: 1:18 Mins
My video review is not in depth, but rather a cautionary tale for those who don't want to get stuck with a dry book that lacks the detail and passion of the era.
Published on May 22, 2010 by Amazon Customer


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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour de Force in Roman History, October 14, 2000
This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
I think this book is brilliant. Michael Grant does not leave the reader wondering "What happened in Rome?" All the basic historical information that a beginner, or even someone more sophisticated, may want to know about Rome is here in this book. This is not as much a textbook, as a sophisticated popular history of Rome, which in my opinion is the strength, and not a weakness, of this volume. It's easy to see throughout the book where the facts are narrated and where their interpretation begins and ends. I do not agree with all of Grant's interpretations. For example, he occasionally induldges in amature psychology, i.e., attributing to the Romans a sadistic side to their national character. I do not think this has anything to do with "national character," but rather it is more likey to be, at least latently, present in the human character in general. I also disagree with his assessment of Cato the Elder and his argument that Carthage was destroyed primarily out of revenge that was fueled by Cato's personal enmity to Carthage and by the scars left by Hannibal in Rome.
Overall, the book is an easy and entertaining read, covering military, political, artistic, and religious sides of Rome. Although I have a Ph.D. in a social science, I have refreshed my knowledge about Rome in this book and learned a number of new, interesting facts. Definitely recommednded for anyone who wants to know more about Rome.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Overview of Roman History, May 19, 2003
By 
Geoffrey H Gannon (Basking Ridge, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
Before exploring the depths of Roman history it's important to grasp the sheer breadth of it. As one of the few one volume histories of Rome this book is a great starting point for the study of Roman history. Obviously, detail has to be sacrificed in an overview (which is really what this book is). But, Grant sneaks a surprising amount of details into this one. Due to the structure of the book and the reader friendly narrative style he employs it's easy to miss many details. He often mentions a battle in a single sentence (just date, location, victor). But, such a clipped pace is required when writing a history of this magnitude. Of course, I have a few qualms. Like most historians, Grant can't help but pass judgement on the Romans for their brutality. He would have been better off including a few lines describing a particular incident of brutality, instead of moralizing. Also, he falls into another common trap, near the conclusion losing the narrative thread, and focusing more on the reasons for Rome's fall. Lastly, the book includes a mix of narration and analysis. Grant's narration is some of the best writing in a history of Rome. However, his analysis stands in stark contrast. He's at his best when he weaves (social) analysis in with straight narration. Early on he does this. Later, he slips up a bit. While the majority of the book has a definite cinematic feel, the last quarter or so is rather choppy and (on occasion) dry. Despite its faults, this is by far the best book covering the whole of Roman history. Buy this book before you buy any other history of Rome. Then, use it to find the periods you'd like to explore in depth. From there, you can choose from many modern and classical sources. But, without first reading through a history of Rome from founding to fall, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the many histories out there. Grant's book is the perfect introduction to Roman history. Nothing more. Nothing less.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Survey of Ancient Rome, June 13, 2003
By 
Tim Kidd (Plover, WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: History of Rome (Hardcover)
This book is very accessible for someone with a strong interest in Roman history, but little background in the subject (like myself). Like the other reviewers, I agree that "History of Rome" is more of a primer to Ancient Rome than a detailed scholarly analysis.
But, as primers go, it is very thorough. Grant discusses the political, economical, and military aspects of Roman life relatively equally. His timeline encompasses the entire span of Roman history (a breathtaking era).
Furthermore, unlike many historians, Grant includes the cultural side of Roman life. He gives almost equal weight to Vergil, Horace and Ovid as to many political/military figures. This gives a more human aspect to ancient Rome, which, though like modern society in many ways, still seems so remote to us.
Grant's writing style can get a bit dull, but the book flows well
and is hard to put down. History may be more exciting than drama at times, but telling it is often more difficult. Grant can hardly be blamed for not keeping the reader at the edge of his seat all the time.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid reference to history of Rome in Antiquity, March 19, 2007
This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
I bought this book, out of all places, at the bookstore in Ara Pacis. I thought to myself, "heck, I am now living in Rome. I should learn some of its history."

At that time I was ignorant and unconcerned with the history of Rome, and its impact on civilisation as we know it to-day. This book changed my views of the city completely. Grant presented all events, documented and conjactured, very much in detail. Yet, he managed to present almost 1300 years of Roman history (it covered the period of roughly the formation of the Roman Kingdom 800 BC to the "fall" of the Western Roman Empire AD 476), in less than 500 pages. Not a single word was wasted, and because of that, he was able to keep my concentration. The maps were quite useful, and had just enough information without being totally cluttered and unreadible.

The only complaint I have, was that in many occasions, he assumed a basic knowledge on Roman social structure and major and minor historical events. But this did not make the book too difficult to follow. Aside from that, I enjoyed reading the book, over and over again.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Telling of Ancient Roman History, December 20, 1999
This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
I originally read this book for a college class twenty years ago. Upon rereading it recently, I rediscovered why Michael Grant is one of the major historians of ancient history. It is the first of many of his books that I have begun to reread. He writes in a clear and concise manner clearly stating what the facts are and, more importantly, stating what his opinions are. He doesn't do, as most historians today do, state his opinion as being absolute fact and trying to fit the facts to go along with his theories. Grant is undoubtly one of the major historians of this period and you should try to read not only this book, but anything he has written.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Grant's History of Rome, May 7, 2006
By 
M. Yakiwchuk (Edmonton, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
As other authors have summarized the contents of this book, I'll leave you with my impressions. If you read just one book on the history of Rome, make it this one. In the telling of this famous story, Michael Grant makes history come alive through vividly realized character studies and piercing analysis. The story of the Roman Empire is told from three main perspectives: (1) That of the modern historian, (2) the ancient historian, and (3) from the perspective of those who lived at the time. Regardless of whether he's illustrating the ancient or contemporary viewpoints, Grant writes with un-failing intensity, imagination, and refined judgement. While reading this book I felt like I was being taken along on a sweeping tour of Roman history by an enthusiastic and informed guide - one who never fails to be both well-informed and entertaining.

Grant has an obvious passion for history, and his enthusiasm for the subject, together with his empathy for the Roman people, are powerful forces in this narrative. I turned to this book based on a recommendation shortly after seeing a TV program dramatizing a period of Roman history. Rather than satiate my thirst for knowledge, however, this book has sparked a greater interest in Roman history. The History of Rome is one book that will remain in my collection for years to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Introduction to the Full Breath of Roman History, August 5, 2010
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This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
This is a very good book. It is an excellent first book for someone curious about Roman history. It offers a perceptive overview of Roman history from the 8th c. B.C. to the 6th c. A.D. It touches on the major themes of Roman history (founding of Rome; unification of Latium and Italy; Punic Wars; Magna Graecia and Sicily; struggle of the orders; the Republic; triumvirates; Early Empire; High Empire; crisis of 3rd c. A.D.; consolidation under Diocletian and Constantine; Christianity and paganism; barbarian invasions; Western and Eastern Empires; decline of Rome and rise of Constantinople), but does not get bogged down in excessive detail. The text runs to over 450 pages, but a third of these are maps, photographs, and illustrations, most of them quite helpful.
Some readers may smile (or smirk) at Michael Grant as less of an academic historian than a popularizer of ancient history. Grant, however, received a British classical education, translated the Penguin "Annals of Imperial Rome" by Tacitus, is a knowledgeable numismaticist, and is at he height of his powers in the field of Roman history. He is also a gifted writer, with a lively style. "History of Rome" is a highly enjoyable read.
Grant's sections on Caesar and Augustus are quite good, and he is especially strong on Roman writers such as Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, Apuleius, Tacitus, and Petronius, as well as Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius.
If you want a more detailed account with full scholarly references, look at H. Scullard's two volumes. If you want good overview, read Michael Grant's "History of Rome."
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars find a used copy and enjoy a good read, October 18, 2001
By 
Paul Schoenberger (Cottonwood, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
With some persistence, I found a used copy of this volume. I am new to the Roman History field, and this book provided a much needed overview. Scholarly and well written, Grant's book provides a strong but workable entry into a fascinating and intriquing field. At times, he moves quickly through the various stages, and I found myself wanting more information, but the design of the book was to provide an overview. After reading this work, a student can move on to more advanced reading with some degree of confidence. Don't let the price put you off. Look at the used additions.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great intoduction to the Roman Empire, June 21, 2005
By 
D. D Lawson (Pasadena, Calif. USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
As a teenager, I was given a copy of this book and am I grateful for it! It was and still is a great help when I was/am in the classroom. It is well written, organized and full of useful information. It is very good to go!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly as good as the Cary-&-Scullard, and a bit shorter, April 28, 2008
By 
Ravanagh Allan (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: History of Rome (Paperback)
Furthermore ...

-Cary and Scullard are Empire apologists, claiming that Rome stumbled into possession of an empire it never wanted, while those authors are still good enough to add that the Romans consistenly laid down unacceptably -- indeed provocatively -- harsh pre-conflict conditions of peace; but Grant clarifies for us that the Romans did this out of fear and suspicion. So that was interesting.

-Grant takes stock of the moral implications of gladiatorial contests for the Romans, unlike Cary and Scullard.

-Grant includes more on the process of the collapse, and what followed it, than Cary and Scullard.

-Grant clarifies that inasmuch as the Romans ever DID leave England, they did so not to defend Italy from barbarians, but to support the governor of (south) Britain's attempt to usurp the Emperorship.

-Grant notes the beginnings of Christianity (which may or may not be of passing interest even to a secular spiritualist, depending on whether or not you know).
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History of Rome
History of Rome by Michail Grant (Paperback - 1978)
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