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Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 1, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of biographies of Augustus and Cicero, British scholar Everitt now combines academic expertise with lively prose in a satisfying account of the emperor who ruled Rome from 117 to 138 C.E., the man Everitt says has a good claim to have been the most successful of Rome's leaders. As a youth, Hadrian became the protégé and adopted ward of future emperor Trajan. (Homosexual emperors, including Hadrian, often adopted a successor, a procedure that worked better than letting pugnacious generals fight it out.) After suppressing the Jewish revolt that had begun under Trajan, Hadrian abandoned several of his predecessor's conquests as indefensible. Traveling the empire, he shored up its defenses, which included building Hadrian's Wall in England and another across Germany. Nearing the end of a prosperous, mostly peaceful reign, he adopted two men who also ruled successfully: Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. Everitt presents the Roman Empire, in what he calls tempestuous and thrilling times, as an almost ungovernable collection of polyglot nations dominated by ambitious, frequently bloodthirsty and unscrupulous men. Readers will wonder how Rome lasted so long, but they will enjoy this skillful portrait of a good leader during its last golden age. 2 maps. (Sept. 8)
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Review

 
“Excellent . . . highly recommended . . . a skillfully analyzed and well-researched narrative.”
Library Journal
 

“One gets a clear and compelling sense of Hadrian’s times.”
The New Yorker
 
“[A] skillful portrait . . . The author of biographies of Augustus and Cicero, British scholar Everitt now combines academic expertise with lively prose in a satisfying account of the emperor.”
Publishers Weekly



From the Trade Paperback edition.
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140006662X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066629
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #996,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hadrian is an emperor who seems to slip through the cracks. Most people remember him as 'that guy who built the wall.' There aren't many biographies on the man and none of the ones that I know of are very good at revealing his personality. His best representation comes through fiction with the popular book Memoirs of Hadrian, so it's nice to see someone finally try to capture the man. Everitt's previous books on the Romans (Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor and Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician) have been successful, and now he turns to the 2nd Century. A great deal of time is spent giving the background to Hadrian's rule. Hadrian doesn't even become emperor until 150 pages in. This wealth of background knowledge is something that I really appreciate in biographies. Too often they just become a dull chronicle of the facts. Everitt's stated goal is to 'make the unfamiliar familiar' and in that he succeeds. By the end you feel as if you understand Hadrian's distant world. If you liked Everitt's previous books then you'll probably like this one. If you haven't read them then I recommend you do. One point though; this book is not a scholarly biography. I don't believe that there are any major errors of fact, but the book is written with the intention of entertaining. If you want a book that only gives you the facts I'd recommend Hadrian: The Restless Emperor by Anthony Birley.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved Anthony' Everitt's Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician and Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor and hoped he would work the same magic with Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome. However, I came away from this book with mixed feelings. Like many of the other reviewers on Amazon.com, I thought Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome was an entertaining history of the historical era slightly before and during Hadrian's reign. Everitt gives fascinating accounts of Roman hunting parties, Hadrian's villa at Tibur, and features of daily Roman life (including a fascinating discussion of Roman attitudes toward homosexuality). He also describes some of Hadrian's most important political and cultural decisions, including the fateful decision to permanently halt the expansion of the empire and his promotion of Greek culture.

However, Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome doesn't quite work as a biography. Too many times, Everitt is forced to qualify his narrative with assumptions or suppositions, while Hadrian himself is far in the background. I appreciate that Everitt warns his readers when he ventures off what is definitely known about Hadrian's life, but it becomes a bit too much.
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Format: Hardcover
I rather enjoyed Everitt`s two other Roman books Cicero, and Augustus. So I was fairly quick to pick up a copy of Hadrain. Everitt starts off with an introduction into the Roman world of Emperor Domitiaon, and later Trajan. I thought this was the best part of the book. The reader gets a great feel for the politics and general lifestyle the Romans had at that time. Hadrian is growing up during this period. He is learning the lessons of roman life. The military, the arts, Greek culture, Roman history, Hadrain seems to take it all in.
This book also has some great insights into leadership. Hadrain is a great observer of both current events and historical events. His political hero was the great Augustus. He takes many of Augustus`s policies, and makes them his own. He uses the lessons of his two military heroes, to whip a peace time military into shape. He also identifies the evils of Domitian, and how Trajan does such a better job of managing the different parts of government. But he also realizes Trajan is making a mistake by over extending the Empire. Soon after taking over power, Hadrian reverses Trajan`s policy of never ending conquest. This was not a popular decision, but Hadrain has the fortitude to go through with the policy. Hadrain almost always attempts to reach a peaceful agreement on political matters. However, he would use over whelming force if need be, to crush a rebellion.
Many of Hadrain`s policies are still being felt in the modern world. The border of France and Germany, and turning Judea into Palestine, are just two examples.
There was one weak area of the book. When Hadrian comes into power, he begins to travel all over the Empire. Everitt lists all sorts of building details. Everywhere Hadrain goes, he seems to build large monuments.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
All in all, this is a pretty good book. The author, however, covered more than just Hadrian. The first half discusses the preceding Roman emperors. The Emperor Trajan is covered in some detail as this was also the period when Hadrian was moving up the political ranks.

The second half is much more focused on Hadrian. There is, however, a fair amount of speculation on certain events. This is likely due to a lack of source material. The author is quick to point out what is known and what is unknown. For example, Hadrian is believed to have taken a young boy named Antinous as a lover and companion. The boy subsequently drowned in Egypt but the available sources are in conflict over the circumstances of his death. Antinous may have died in an accident or he may have been deliberately sacrificed in a ritual designed to prolong Hadrian's life.

The author does an excellent job of documenting his research. The book is 327 pages long, not counting sources, notes, and an index. It has a detailed chronology and several photographs of statues and monuments. It also contains two maps, one of the Roman Empire and one of Greece. These maps are helpful in orienting the reader to various cities and sites that are referenced in the narrative.

Bottom line: this book is an easy read that moves quickly. Of note, however, is that a little more than half the text is focused on Hadrian. The author spends an equal amount of time on preceding emperors and Roman life in the 2nd century. Given the lack of primary sources, the author did a pretty good job of covering this emperor who is mostly known for building a wall in Britain.
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