Customer Reviews: History of Rome
Amazon Vehicles 4-month subscription Amazon Fashion nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Electronics Holiday Gift Guide Starting at $39.99 Clarisonic Cozy Knits Book 2 or More Hours of House Cleaning on Amazon GoodGirlsRevolt GoodGirlsRevolt GoodGirlsRevolt  All-New Echo Dot Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis Shop Now Save on select ClickTight convertible car seats

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on October 14, 2000
I think this book is brilliant. Michael Grant does not leave the reader wondering "What happened in Rome?" All the basic historical information that a beginner, or even someone more sophisticated, may want to know about Rome is here in this book. This is not as much a textbook, as a sophisticated popular history of Rome, which in my opinion is the strength, and not a weakness, of this volume. It's easy to see throughout the book where the facts are narrated and where their interpretation begins and ends. I do not agree with all of Grant's interpretations. For example, he occasionally induldges in amature psychology, i.e., attributing to the Romans a sadistic side to their national character. I do not think this has anything to do with "national character," but rather it is more likey to be, at least latently, present in the human character in general. I also disagree with his assessment of Cato the Elder and his argument that Carthage was destroyed primarily out of revenge that was fueled by Cato's personal enmity to Carthage and by the scars left by Hannibal in Rome.
Overall, the book is an easy and entertaining read, covering military, political, artistic, and religious sides of Rome. Although I have a Ph.D. in a social science, I have refreshed my knowledge about Rome in this book and learned a number of new, interesting facts. Definitely recommednded for anyone who wants to know more about Rome.
0Comment| 94 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 19, 2003
Before exploring the depths of Roman history it's important to grasp the sheer breadth of it. As one of the few one volume histories of Rome this book is a great starting point for the study of Roman history. Obviously, detail has to be sacrificed in an overview (which is really what this book is). But, Grant sneaks a surprising amount of details into this one. Due to the structure of the book and the reader friendly narrative style he employs it's easy to miss many details. He often mentions a battle in a single sentence (just date, location, victor). But, such a clipped pace is required when writing a history of this magnitude. Of course, I have a few qualms. Like most historians, Grant can't help but pass judgement on the Romans for their brutality. He would have been better off including a few lines describing a particular incident of brutality, instead of moralizing. Also, he falls into another common trap, near the conclusion losing the narrative thread, and focusing more on the reasons for Rome's fall. Lastly, the book includes a mix of narration and analysis. Grant's narration is some of the best writing in a history of Rome. However, his analysis stands in stark contrast. He's at his best when he weaves (social) analysis in with straight narration. Early on he does this. Later, he slips up a bit. While the majority of the book has a definite cinematic feel, the last quarter or so is rather choppy and (on occasion) dry. Despite its faults, this is by far the best book covering the whole of Roman history. Buy this book before you buy any other history of Rome. Then, use it to find the periods you'd like to explore in depth. From there, you can choose from many modern and classical sources. But, without first reading through a history of Rome from founding to fall, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the many histories out there. Grant's book is the perfect introduction to Roman history. Nothing more. Nothing less.
0Comment| 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 13, 2003
This book is very accessible for someone with a strong interest in Roman history, but little background in the subject (like myself). Like the other reviewers, I agree that "History of Rome" is more of a primer to Ancient Rome than a detailed scholarly analysis.
But, as primers go, it is very thorough. Grant discusses the political, economical, and military aspects of Roman life relatively equally. His timeline encompasses the entire span of Roman history (a breathtaking era).
Furthermore, unlike many historians, Grant includes the cultural side of Roman life. He gives almost equal weight to Vergil, Horace and Ovid as to many political/military figures. This gives a more human aspect to ancient Rome, which, though like modern society in many ways, still seems so remote to us.
Grant's writing style can get a bit dull, but the book flows well
and is hard to put down. History may be more exciting than drama at times, but telling it is often more difficult. Grant can hardly be blamed for not keeping the reader at the edge of his seat all the time.
0Comment| 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 19, 2007
I bought this book, out of all places, at the bookstore in Ara Pacis. I thought to myself, "heck, I am now living in Rome. I should learn some of its history."

At that time I was ignorant and unconcerned with the history of Rome, and its impact on civilisation as we know it to-day. This book changed my views of the city completely. Grant presented all events, documented and conjactured, very much in detail. Yet, he managed to present almost 1300 years of Roman history (it covered the period of roughly the formation of the Roman Kingdom 800 BC to the "fall" of the Western Roman Empire AD 476), in less than 500 pages. Not a single word was wasted, and because of that, he was able to keep my concentration. The maps were quite useful, and had just enough information without being totally cluttered and unreadible.

The only complaint I have, was that in many occasions, he assumed a basic knowledge on Roman social structure and major and minor historical events. But this did not make the book too difficult to follow. Aside from that, I enjoyed reading the book, over and over again.
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 20, 1999
I originally read this book for a college class twenty years ago. Upon rereading it recently, I rediscovered why Michael Grant is one of the major historians of ancient history. It is the first of many of his books that I have begun to reread. He writes in a clear and concise manner clearly stating what the facts are and, more importantly, stating what his opinions are. He doesn't do, as most historians today do, state his opinion as being absolute fact and trying to fit the facts to go along with his theories. Grant is undoubtly one of the major historians of this period and you should try to read not only this book, but anything he has written.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 7, 2006
As other authors have summarized the contents of this book, I'll leave you with my impressions. If you read just one book on the history of Rome, make it this one. In the telling of this famous story, Michael Grant makes history come alive through vividly realized character studies and piercing analysis. The story of the Roman Empire is told from three main perspectives: (1) That of the modern historian, (2) the ancient historian, and (3) from the perspective of those who lived at the time. Regardless of whether he's illustrating the ancient or contemporary viewpoints, Grant writes with un-failing intensity, imagination, and refined judgement. While reading this book I felt like I was being taken along on a sweeping tour of Roman history by an enthusiastic and informed guide - one who never fails to be both well-informed and entertaining.

Grant has an obvious passion for history, and his enthusiasm for the subject, together with his empathy for the Roman people, are powerful forces in this narrative. I turned to this book based on a recommendation shortly after seeing a TV program dramatizing a period of Roman history. Rather than satiate my thirst for knowledge, however, this book has sparked a greater interest in Roman history. The History of Rome is one book that will remain in my collection for years to come.
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 10, 2013
"History of Rome" is likely historian Michael Grant's most well-known work and rightfully so. It is a well-written, detailed, and thorough survey of Roman history from the beginnings of the city-state of Rome to the fall of the Western Empire. Most importantly, Grant weaves together an interesting narrative that takes you through Roman history chronologically while managing to include plentiful information on society, culture, literature, art, religion, and more. Clearly, it would be near impossible to include every detail of Roman history and analysis of every event in a one-volume work, but Grant includes a great deal of wisely chosen material and does a wonderful job of pausing to consider important people, events, themes, and changes in Roman society when necessary.

Highlights of the work include Grant's discussions of the Punic Wars, the Gracchi brothers, the late Republic and beginning of the Empire (Caesar and Augustus), the reign of Trajan, the rise of Christianity, the Severans and the crisis of the third century, and the fall of the Roman west and its after effects. What is of great benefit to the reader is that Grant has written individual books on many of these topics which examine them in greater detail. In this work Grant gives a remarkable overview of the lives and missions of Jesus and Paul which are fair and balanced and make me want to read his biographies of these two figures ("Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels", "Saint Paul"). His description for the reasons the Western empire crumbled are also insightful, and yes, he has also written a full work on this subject ("The Fall of the Roman Empire"). Knowing that Grant has such a breadth and depth of knowledge on the Classical world makes it even more impressive that he was able to choose the right information and the right AMOUNT of information to include for the various sections of this general history. Each chapter flows together with those around it and he never hovers over one section for too long.

At 474 pages of text before notes and bibliography kick in, this can appear to be a hefty tome for the novice in Roman history. However, there is no need to be discouraged because it is divided into manageable sections and flows easily from one to another. It also includes a large number of well chosen images to complement the text. I wouldn't have had a problem with another 100 pages to flesh out some of the particularly interesting aspects of Roman history and society that are not covered in detail (Cincinnatus, more about Christianity after Paul, Roman sexuality, and so on). However, I understand why Grant kept the book at the length that it is. Overall, this is a top-notch survey of Ancient Rome and it deserves to be read. If you enjoy this work, do look into Grant's other works on Greek and Roman history ("From Alexander to Cleopatra: The Hellenistic World" is another spectacular survey of the period that preceded the domination of Rome). If you are looking for a shorter book to whet your appetite before approaching this one, consider Thomas R. Martin's "Ancient Rome: From Romulus to Justinian.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 5, 2010
This is a very good book. It is an excellent first book for someone curious about Roman history. It offers a perceptive overview of Roman history from the 8th c. B.C. to the 6th c. A.D. It touches on the major themes of Roman history (founding of Rome; unification of Latium and Italy; Punic Wars; Magna Graecia and Sicily; struggle of the orders; the Republic; triumvirates; Early Empire; High Empire; crisis of 3rd c. A.D.; consolidation under Diocletian and Constantine; Christianity and paganism; barbarian invasions; Western and Eastern Empires; decline of Rome and rise of Constantinople), but does not get bogged down in excessive detail. The text runs to over 450 pages, but a third of these are maps, photographs, and illustrations, most of them quite helpful.
Some readers may smile (or smirk) at Michael Grant as less of an academic historian than a popularizer of ancient history. Grant, however, received a British classical education, translated the Penguin "Annals of Imperial Rome" by Tacitus, is a knowledgeable numismaticist, and is at he height of his powers in the field of Roman history. He is also a gifted writer, with a lively style. "History of Rome" is a highly enjoyable read.
Grant's sections on Caesar and Augustus are quite good, and he is especially strong on Roman writers such as Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, Apuleius, Tacitus, and Petronius, as well as Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius.
If you want a more detailed account with full scholarly references, look at H. Scullard's two volumes. If you want good overview, read Michael Grant's "History of Rome."
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 18, 2001
With some persistence, I found a used copy of this volume. I am new to the Roman History field, and this book provided a much needed overview. Scholarly and well written, Grant's book provides a strong but workable entry into a fascinating and intriquing field. At times, he moves quickly through the various stages, and I found myself wanting more information, but the design of the book was to provide an overview. After reading this work, a student can move on to more advanced reading with some degree of confidence. Don't let the price put you off. Look at the used additions.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 21, 2005
As a teenager, I was given a copy of this book and am I grateful for it! It was and still is a great help when I was/am in the classroom. It is well written, organized and full of useful information. It is very good to go!
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse