Top positive review
100 people found this helpful
on October 8, 2000
This is a genuine historical treasure. Rarely are we fortunate enough to have historical accounts written by eyewitnesses. Caesar was not only an eyewitness, but the lead player. It's as though we had accounts of Alexanders campaigns written by Alexander, himself. Or Charlemagne's life in his own words. And, not only is it a firsthand account, but it is brilliantly written. Caesar's commentaries, whether of the Gallic campaigns or of the Civil War that followed, are considered masterpieces of Latin prose. The writing is concise and straightforward. Caesar's writings are still used today to teach Latin.
All the brilliance aside, however, this is also lively and interesting to read. "The Conquest of Gaul" covers the ten-year period of Caesar's proconsulship of Gaul. During those ten years he carried out a series of military campaigns that subdued all of Gaul (Europe west of the Rhine and south to the Pyrenees and Mediterranian), bringing it under Roman rule, while also leading expeditions across the Channel into southeastern Britain. Caesar writes not only of his battles, but also of the tribes he encountered and details of how his own men lived. We see Caesar as the consummate leader, sharing the hardships of his men. He fights in the front lines with them, he marches with them, he eats the same food they eat, and they will follow him anywhere.
Caesar's success as a general is a product of several factors. His speed of movement, his effective use of terrain, the absolute loyalty and confidence of his troops, and the relatively advanced engineering skills of the Romans are all used effectively by Caesar.
Written to publicize Caesar's Gallic successes among the people back in Rome, these accounts remain as readable today as they were intended to be 2,000 years ago. Given the great bulk of ancient writings that have been lost over the centuries, we are extremely fortunate that these are among those that survived. This is really great stuff. Read it. You'll be glad you did.