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Julius Caesar: A Life 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this book for self. It arrived on time, the price was right. As with ,many other books about JC, it was informative and the author uses the resources many other writers do. Read morePublished on June 11, 2014 by Mark Tosi
Politics has not changed in the 2,000 years since the Roman Republic. Still hate filled and vicious. I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot.Published on February 18, 2014 by Dr Arthur G Kelly