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The Roman Empire Hardcover – July 1, 1984


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Hardcover, July 1, 1984
$57.13 $1.78
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr; First Edition edition (July 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804712379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804712378
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,095,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Roman empire begins with Julius, the first Caesar, and ends five centuries later with the establishment of Christian rule in Western Europe. C. M. Wells chronicles the astonishing growth of the empire through military innovations that gave soldiers and colonists a tangible stake in Rome's success through the award of captured lands. He helps make sense out of complex episodes in Roman history, among them the so-called year of the four emperors and the rise of non-Roman rulers such as Maximinus. Wells also looks at the legacy of the Roman empire in modern governments, which derive much knowledge about administration, road building, hydrology, and assorted other practical arts from their ancient forebears. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

This concise but illuminating history of a government that provided peace and prosperity longer than any other has no equal. (Antioch Review)

When a modest, single volume on the Roman Empire proves informative, provocative, and exciting, the reader gladly acknowledges an exceptional author. Professor Colin Wells is expert in the various aspects of Roman history, he reflects on issues independently and creatively, and he writes elegantly, and sometimes brilliantly. (Eleanor G. Huzar Classical Outlook)

This is historical writing with a bite usually missing in fast surveys...Novices and advanced students of Roman history alike will be stimulated by this book to think deeply on a grand scale about matters of great importance in ancient history. (Thomas R. Martin History Book Club Review)

An admirable volume. (A. T. Kraabel Religious Studies Review) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Wallace V. French III on February 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book on the early empire. Wells covers the time from the fall of the republic concentrating on the reign of Augustus to about the time of Commodus. He does a very good job of explaining the time of Trajan and Hadrian and how the empire was consolidated and at peace for an extended period of time. There is a good balance of the life of the Emperors, everyday life in Rome and the provinces, the army, and the senate. The best thing about this book is the 41 page further reading section. This has been my main source to reference for books on ancient Rome. It is not just an annotated bibliography; Wells has topical sections like Roman coinage, imperial cult, treason, financial administration, town planning, Jewish sources, etc. and in each section lists recommended books. There are also ten pages of maps, plates, and a useful timeline. An excellent book to get you started on reading about the early Roman Empire.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on March 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an adequate one volume history on the Roman Empire. I've certainly seen some surveys of this period that are better, but Colin Wells does the job. The book covers the period from 44 B.C. to 235 A.D., or roughly from the beginnings of the second triumvirate to right before the 50 years of anarchy before Diocletian. Wells takes an interesting path with his book; he alternates between standard political history and social developments. You can read about everything from Elagabalus to Arezzo pottery. Most surveys I've read stick exclusively to politics. This format allows Wells to talk about areas that interest him. He states in the forward that his concern is archeology and that he has worked in Carthage unearthing buildings and walls.
Most books agree that the death of Julius Caesar and the civil wars between Octavian and Antony usher in the Imperial phase of Roman history. Wells is correct to start with these events. The book doesn't go far enough, however. Stopping at 235 A.D. leaves out an enormous amount of significant events. Leaving out Diocletian and the Tetrarchy alone is a huge mistake, as is the absence of Constantine and Christianity. Still, the book is a great refresher on Roman history. There really isn't much new here in the way of interpretation, although I did appreciate his introduction. Wells manages to do in a few pages what many fail to do: explain in a concise way the intricacies of Roman names and Roman political offices. Very helpful.
This is a good book, although a serious survey of Roman history would be better served with a more comprehensive textbook. Be sure and locate a book that at least covers Rome up to 476 A.D., if not later.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By P. Bartl on May 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is probably the best introduction one can read about the Roman Empire, since the author not only gives the conventional information (such as the lives of the individual emperors, etc) but also provides analytical and critical comments from a broader historical perspective.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By George L. Dziuk III on October 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Beginning from the military take over of Rome by Julius Caesar, through Octavian and Trajan to the eventual end of centralized government in the 3rd and 4th centuries, this book neatly organizes the material chronologically while not losing the reader in a hodge-podge of names, places, and events. Dr. Colin Wells does a fantastic job of explaining the culture of the Roman Empire both in Italy and throughout the many provinces (most notably Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor, Germania and Britannia).

A overtly general book on the period, this historical work is great for the reader that is unfamiliar with the time period and simply wants a thorough discussion on the Roman Empire that touches on all the major topics while not getting too bogged down in the nitty gritty details. Points of contention among researches are raised with Dr. Wells providing his opinion on the matters while still acknowledging the dissenting view.

Finally, the book does a really good job of capturing the feel of Rome during this time. The more enjoyable parts of the book are when he explains the cultural aspects of the Roman Empire: what life was like as a plebian, the Bay of Naples as a senatorial resort for the very rich or life as a legionnaire on the banks of the Rhine or the Danube. While he does cater to a more British audience (this book was written while Dr. Wells was teaching as an adjunct professor at Cambridge) I highly recommend it as a great "starter" book for those interested in learning about the Roman Empire.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Virgil on May 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Prof Wells does good work in giving a panoramic view of the empire from Augustus' reign and on. This does a fine job as a refresher on the Roman Empire since Wells has incorporated the most contemporary of discoveries in his latest edition. As always it never hurts to have background knowlege of the Roman Republic before reading this, but it's not essential.
What is especially great about Well's "Roman Empire" is the narrative bibliography. These are unfortunately rare today in most histories. Well's bibliography alone will point readers interested in Rome in the right direction for further reading or study.
Clearly written, well researched and well done.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Nick Kapur on January 10, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent concise yet complete history of the Roman Empire from Caesar to the start of its long decline. A strength of the book is that Wells limits himself to a manageable 300 year scope. This book is very readable and excellently organized into alternating chapters of political and social history. Wells does a good job of pointing out newer scholarship and areas where there are differences of opinion - he doesn't just give you his version. He also does a good job noting his primary sources. The index is excellent there is also a very cool thematic bibliography that is very helpful to people doing research papers on this era. This book is rigorous yet readable, enjoyable yet scholarly. I would recommend it to both serious students of the Roman Empire as a handy reference book on the stuff you already know and also to any person just interested in learning about Rome as a good book to start out with.
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