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Spartacus (North Castle Books) Paperback – November 17, 2014


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Product Details

  • Series: North Castle Books
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Reprint edition (November 17, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156324599X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563245992
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This is a book about ideas, values, commitments and dreams.
Theodore A. Rushton
Howard Fast's novel has pretty much become the seminal work on Spartacus, which is really sad.
M. Nikolic
I read this book recently after only having seen the movie.
P. Connors

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
Even though I probably would have bought this book anyway (I enjoy historical fiction and Roman history), the main reason I bought this book was because I loved the movie. But I was unprepared for what was ultimately a finely crafted novel.For the most part, it takes place after the revolt: as a few of Rome's most important politicians (including Crassus and Cicero), discuss, and consider, the significance of the revolt. Also, through flashbacks, it covers part of Spartacus' life--the horrible conditions in the african mines, life as a gladiator, the revolt, and death.Basically, this book tells a better story, and tells it better, than the movie which claims to be based on it.
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55 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Steven Zoraster on May 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Howard Fast's novelization of the slave revolt in Italy between 73-71 BC is both a work of left wing advocacy and a tremendously well done novel. I read it first when I was 14. Now, a long time later, once a year or so I re-read the copy I still have - for the enjoyment, for the character development, for the history, and for the political agenda. You could read it for any one or any combination of those features, and still get something out of this book.
For those who don't know, Howard Fast was a member of the Communist Party of the United States from the 1930s on up to the early 1950s, a committed, though thinking member. And one who was willing to go to jail ~1951 rather than testify about others in the CPUSA. (For more about this aspect of his life, buy his biography, Being Red.) So, Spartacus is a novel with an agenda. For "Rome," read western capitalism run wild. For "slaves" read the lower class, peasants, serfs or workers. And for Spartacus himself, read anyone you want to as a modern day revolutionary who is forced by history, and his own humanity, to attempt changing the world. Is this a problem? Absolutely not! When I read this book at 14, I knew that when I read something along the lines of "Rome is the whole world," that that could be taken as the Classical Mediterranean world, or as the whole capitalist world of the 20th century. If, like me, you don't worry too much about the evils of modern capitalism, you can read the book as pure historical fiction. And, like me, if you want to, you can catch Fast's criticism of capitalism without diminishing your enjoyment of the novel.
How good is Spartacus as historical fiction?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E.S. Kraay on April 7, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not including the mandatory classics like Moby Dick that we were required to read in school growing up in the 50's and 60's, I recall that Spartacus was one of the first 'adult' books I voluntarily read. I enjoyed it as a 14-year-old kid, but I'm certain I waded through the book from action scene to action scene. What motivated me to read it again nearly 40 years later, I don't know. Nonetheless, I picked it up a month ago and did it again.

The changes in my perceptions were startingly. Frankly, there are not many action scenes, and it amazed me that I was able to hang in there as a boy reading a man's book. More importantly, this is a book about people and great concepts and controversies that have been a part of mankind since the beginning.

As an adult knowing about Howard Fast's background when he wrote the book, I could read his own struggles in the 50's portrayed through the lives of the 'greatest' generation of its time, the people of the Roman Empire.

This is as stunning a book about freedom as you will ever read. Early on when a crucified gladiator tells onlookers, "I will return, and I will be millions," you can easily see the connection between what happened in this little documented yet important episode in history and what has occurred in the subsequent 2,000 years.

The story of Spartacus is not finished; mankind has miles to go before it sleeps. Still, the tale of rebellious gladiators who unite the slave population of Rome through four tumultuous years is an excellent base from which to consider other chapters in the story through 20 centuries.

An excellent book that will hook you through character and conceptual development.
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35 of 44 people found the following review helpful By M. G Watson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Spartacus" gives the lie to the scientific law that two bodies cannot occupy the same space: it exists simultaneously as an epic piece of historical fiction and as powerful (if less-than-subtle) bit of Leftist propaganda. The fact that most people know the story of Spartacus from the Kirk Douglas movie is a shame, because while the movie remains a classic, the book does the story far more justice.

Everyone knows the basic story of Spartacus, the anonymous third-generation slave sold to a gladiator school to fight for the amusement of decadent Romans, and how he ended up leading a gigantic slave rebellion that nearly destroyed the Republic. What Fast explores in the novel is how and why this rebellion came about, and what effect it had on the psychology of the Romans, whose culture even during the years of the Republic was enormously dependent on slavery. Most importantly, Fast explores the moral climate of Rome by following around the "victors" of the Servile War as they reminisce about Spartacus and how he was defeated. It is in this backward-looking manner that "Spartacus" unfolds.

Fast draws his characters, most of whom are real-life figures, with wonderful clarity: Crassus, the general who crushed Spartacus' rebellion, is shown as "the bronze hawk of the Republic" -- ruthless, sensual, grasping, yet ultimately hollow; Cicero, the historian-philsopher, as a scheming opportunist of the worst sort; Gracchus as a basically decent man turned cynical and decayed by the evils of his society.
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