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Julius Caesar Paperback – May 14, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
As a general Caesar led from the front. When he was in danger of losing a battle to the patrician forces in Spain, he charged the opposing line single-handedly, embarrassing his men into redoubling their efforts, snatching victory from defeat. We know as much as we do about Caesar thanks to his own account of the GALLIC WARS, which has survived, and Freeman quotes from it extensively. Perhaps Caesar's most impressive victory was the BATTLE OF ALESIA, where he fought a two front battle against the Gauls under Vercingetorix whom he'd cornered in the city, only to be confronted by 100,000 Gaulish soldiers in his rear.
We see Caesar rise from a poor patrician family living in the slums of Rome to work his way up from military tribune, to sequester, to aedile, to preaetor and eventually consul of Rome. One of his first official acts was to redistribute land to the plebians and the Roman soldiers, some of which was taken from the rich patrician families who controlled the Senate. On his way to becoming consul, Caesar was in charge of keeping the Appian Way in good repair. Caesar was not only a great general and politician, he was also an engineer, a great public speaker, and a lawyer.
We also get a good look at the Roman Civil Wars. At first, Caesar gained power through a triumvirate with the great general Pompey and Crassus a rich Roman senator.Read more ›
Freeman's biography moved smoothly and succinctly along, pausing when appropriate to explore Roman mores and the rather strange (to the modern eye) interactions and motivations of Caesar, Pompey, Crassius, Cato and Cicero. It remained straightforward and interesting throughout with no pretense of originality or self-importance.
I was disappointed with Goldsworthy. He often seemed ponderous and verbose, as if trying to impress a scholar but offering a less well told story in an extra 200 pages.
Go with Freeman and skip Goldsworthy.
I thought that the most insightful part of the book was the focus on Caesar's disdain and disapproval for many of the excesses of the Roman Republic. For example, (while still a mere Senator) Caesar introduced legislation that was intended to put a stop to the hallowed custom whereby a Roman Governor would plunder the province to which he was assigned. Caesar's law on this subject endured throughout the many centuries of the Roman Empire as a model of sound legal drafting. In point of fact, the author makes a convincing case showing that when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, surely knowing that the Republic would never be the same, he did so in the belief that the Republic had to be fundamentally restructured and modernized. Caesar rightly viewed the Roman Republic as an oligarchy designed to allow a small clique of rich Senators to maintain their dominance and plunder Rome's neighbors. The city-state government, satisfactory for governing Rome and the nearby environs, was completely inadequate to govern Rome's far-flung empire, or even just Italy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have not read a lot of ancient history. This was a fairly easy read. I learned a lot.Published 20 days ago by William E. Rittenberg
Mr Freeman has written a decent account of the life and death of Caesar. There is nothing new added to Caesar that you cannot find in other authors, yet if you are looking for a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by NNiemi
It seems Caesar had just as much, if not more, dysfunction in his government as we have today. Excellent read.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Boring. I read about 20% of this book on my Kindle. It was repetitive and I don't think it was organized particularly well. This book was recommended to me by a friend. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Both Professional and Fun
I am very interested in Roman history, and particularly fascinated by the life and times of Julius Caesar. I felt that Freeman's book on Julius Caesar was excellent. Read morePublished 7 months ago by KG
Philip Freeman is an incredibly writer and I thoroughly suggest reading both Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great by him. I'll be purchasing more of his work in the future.Published 9 months ago by Joe