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Julius Caesar: A Life 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415411219
ISBN-10: 0415411211
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kamm has held various positions relating to the publishing world for over 20 years. He has served as editor at Oxford University Press, lecturer in publishing studies at the University of Stirling and as Senior Education Officer with the Commonwealth Sec --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (September 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415411211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415411219
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,121,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Antony Kamm's previous works of history have shown him to be a tremendous synthesizer of information, who has the ability to clearly explicate the complex histories of ancient worlds - in this case, the remarkable and remarkably complex history of Julius Caesar.

Caesar is currently "in", just as fine scholars are also publishing new studies of important men and events throughout the classical worlds. Kamm's study of Julius Caesar makes a consistent but educated use of sources (many of which are conflicting on fine points about Caesar's remarkable life). Building on his earlier study for students, Julius Caesar: A Beginner's Guide, he is able in this volume to expand into some of the controversies of Caesar's career and those facts that impact our understanding of his character and personality, all focused on the unfortunately-standard view of 20th century scholars that any great leader who is a militarist must, of necessity, be bad. The result is clarity and a fine understanding of the stresses of the Roman Republic into which Caesar was born, and which, only in part through his actions, died with his own death. The Republic, centuries old at Caesar's birth, was unable to accept new solutions to the problems of its increasing empire, and the increasing "one-man rule" of its great military leaders, Marius, Sulla, Pompey and Caesar.

Kamm has the enviable talent of packing a great deal of important information into prose that is lucid and flexible. This is an excellent basic study that deals with all significant aspects of Caesar's life and the world of the late Republic. As the author says, one may not like Caesar, but that is unimportant in evaluating the effect of one extraordinary Roman on the history of his times.

Highly recommended for the beginner or the expert.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This isn't quite "Roman History and Julius Caesar 101", but it probably isn't for anyone with a strong background in Roman History. Perhaps it's Kamms' style, which seems in spots overly colloquial. In any case, for some anyone looking for a relatively painless intro to one of the most important periods in history, I give it a qualified very good recommendation. Kamm taught undergraduates; then why does he seem to dumb down this book in spots for the general public? The first chapter, apart from some non-sequitors, contains an excellent overview of the system of government under the Republic. But Kamm should have spent even more time developing the longer term social and political history of Rome, to really put into context Caesar's historical place. For example, in his explanation of the quasi-legal approach of Tiberius Gracchus, he seems to place an over-emphasis on legal/historical precedents that favored the Senate, completely ignoring the fact that by this time the Republic-the Res Publica - was being mortally wounded by the land-grabbing tendencies of many of those same Senators who benefitted by the destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE, and the wealth pouring in as a result of the hegemony Rome now exercised over the Hellenistic world. Conversely, he provides one of the best analyses of Gaius Gracchus' reforms, something too many historians gloss over, and at least in part covers the Sulla/Marius period in depth, if not with complete understanding of the underlying causes. And he handles an enormous amount of material on this perplexing period pretty well. But then, in conclusion, says "A remarkable person, strong willed and with firmly set goals, can alter the direction of a nation, for better or worse." Really? the nation, and its' citizens, it's culture and traditions, don't count?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book, clear, concise, fast-paced.

Antony Kamm, who a few years ago authored another biography of Caesar, intended as, and titled, "Julius Caesar - A Beginner's Guide", has not only expanded and revamped his previous text, but has carefully re-read the classical sources, studied new scholarship, and come up with new perspectives and insights. He does an amazing job of telling us what we need to know about Caesar in 155 pages, supplemented with maps and illustrations, and goes into detailed although succint discussions about issues such as the paternity of Caesarion or Caesar's philosophic beliefs. The military campaigns are not forgotten, and the descriptions and maps of some of the major battles are among the best and clearest.

Caesar is presented in context and surrounded by his contemporaries. We are told about the cultural, political, religious and military background of the late Roman Republic, and are acquainted with substantial, believable characters like Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Cicero or Piso; the women - Calpurnia, Servilia, Cleopatra - are given new proportions. As for Caesar himself, far from pretending to analyze him, Kamm simply states the facts and anecdotes in his usual elegant, subtly ironical, style, and lets his hero stand for himself. Caesar then comes up as "an idealist, a workaholic", with an "autocratic attitude and (..) preoccupation with quick results", who like no other "head of state in ancient or modern times applied himself so assiduously to such a range of physical and intellectual activities, and excelled at them all".

The lack of footnotes is regrettable, but Kamm makes up for it by quoting his sources in the text, which he manages to do without breaking the flow of narrative.
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