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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Full of extreme post modern lingusitic meta-analysis, November 12, 2010
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This review is from: Reconstructing the Roman Republic: An Ancient Political Culture and Modern Research (Hardcover)
If you are looking for a good exposition on up-to-date modern scholarship on the Roman Republic and its institutions -- this isn't the volume for you. If you are looking for hyper-technical, meta-analysis, and navel gazing technical debates about methodologies among ancient historians of the Roman Republic that makes your eyes glaze over -- this is a 5 star rated book.

In other words -- this book is not for the non-historian. In fact, it may not even be for most historians. It is for a small subset of historians concerned with the specific methodological approaches to analyzing the Roman Republic. And, well, even my description of it makes it sound more interesting and exciting than it is.

Debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin would be more poetic and engrossing that this volume. I am not sure whether this is due to a translation problem or not. It's hard to tell. Think, hyper-textual, post modern literary criticism gone amok -- and you kind of get the tone of this book.

That isn't to say that the scholarship and the knowledge of the author are bad. I couldn't really say. I had no idea what he was talking about most of the time, and I consider myself a fairly well read person when it comes to the Roman Republic. I have a whole bookshelf full of primary and secondary source material ranging from Walbank's Historical Commentaries on Polybius to Broughton's Magistrates of the Roman Republican.

I also have most of the recent single volume histories of the Republic, such as Forsyth's and Cornell's, along with the relevant Cambridge Ancient History Volumes, and the recent Blackwell Companion to the Roman Republic. So I was realy looking forward to reading this book, given my respect for professor Holkeskamp. But, this is decidedly not for lay people. Not even well-educated and well-read lay people. As much as it pains me to say it, I think the blurbs for this book are a bit deceiving and I hope others do not make the same mistake I did.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What the other reviewer said, December 16, 2010
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This review is from: Reconstructing the Roman Republic: An Ancient Political Culture and Modern Research (Hardcover)
I am obsessed with ancient Roman history, almost exclusively on the Republic. Out of this very short book, I managed to peel several incredible bits of information which support the realization that the Roman "Republic" was more of an aristocratic oligarchy than not.

But the vast majority of the book is two things: incredibly dense, hyper-textual analyses and meta-analyses of a multitude of scholars on the subject of the Roman Republic and constitution, and bashing Fergus Millar.

Much like Erich von Däniken simply "asks questions" in his radical "Chariot of the Gods?", Fergus Millar simply brings up ideas that suggest that the Roman Republic between (and ONLY between) the period of 200 BC and 150 BC was as close to a Direct Democracy as any civilization in history.

Hölkeskamp soundly crushes this theory with waves of facts that simply have no way of being reconciled. How could Rome have given such power and authority to the people when elections were not decided on popular vote, but on electoral vote (that is, the majority of people in a tribe vote one way, the entire tribe's vote goes that way), in which the majority of Romans occupy the MINORITY of tribes?---it would be as if every US State were worth 1 electoral vote, regardless of population. How could Rome have given such control to the crowds when they could only vote Yes or No on measures of war, peace, treaties, and other such measures, and not adjust the measures or vote Yes for some articles and not others?

But Hölkeskamp isn't content to merely refute these arguments, but often does it with a great vigor that is almost aggressive and insulting, attacking Millar's scholarship---rightfully so, pointing out where Millar selectively ignores facts and presents statements that are uncited, but it reaches a vehemence that feels as though there is a personal matter here. It's never so explicit as saying "Millar foolishly states" or "Millar's error is so blatant", but it does come across as rather hostile.

I'm not perturbed by that, but others might be.
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Reconstructing the Roman Republic: An Ancient Political Culture and Modern Research
Reconstructing the Roman Republic: An Ancient Political Culture and Modern Research by Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp (Hardcover - April 11, 2010)
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