- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; 31971st edition (March 8, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400078970
- ISBN-13: 978-1400078974
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Rubicon 31971st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
After a palace coup demolished the reign of King Tarquin of Rome in 509 B.C., a republican government flourished, providing every person an opportunity to participate in political life in the name of liberty. As Holland, a novelist and adapter of Herodotus' Histories for British radio, points out in this lively re-creation of the republic's rise and fall, the seeds of destruction were planted in the very soil in which the early republic flourished. It was more often members of the patrician classes who had the resources to achieve political success. Such implicit class distinctions in an ostensibly classless society also gave rise to a new group of rulers who acted like monarchs. Holland chronicles the rise to power of such leaders as Sulla Felix, Pompey, Cicero and Julius Caesar. Some of these leaders, such as Pompey, appealed to the masses by expanding the republic through military conquest; others, like Cicero, worked to reinforce class distinctions. Holland points to the suppression of the Gracchian revolution-a series of reforms in favor of the poor pushed by the Gracchus brothers in the second century B.C.-as the beginning of the end of the republic, providing the context into which Julius Caesar would step with his own attempts to save the republic. As Holland points out, Caesar actually precipitated civil wars and helped to reestablish an imperial form of government in Rome. With the skill of a good novelist, Holland weaves a rip-roaring tale of political and historical intrigue as he chronicles the lively personalities and problems that led to the end of the Roman republic. Maps.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Ancient history lives in this vivid chronicle of the tumultuous events that impelled Julius Caesar across the one small river that separated the Roman Republic from cataclysmic civil war. With the narrative talents that have established him as a prominent radio personality and novelist, Holland pulls readers deep into the treacherous riptide of Roman politics. To show how Caesar eventually masters that tide--if only temporarily--Holland first traces the bloody career of the ruthless dictator Sulla, who rescues an imperiled Republic even as he breaches its founding traditions. Those breaches deeply disturb the moralist Cato, but the indulgent luxury of a post-Sullan world suits Caesar well enough: a popular favorite, he sets the fashion in loose-fitting togas--and waits for his fated opening. Recounting Caesar's eventual seizure of power in pages as irresistibly cadenced as the legionnaires' march, Holland probes the tragic ironies that quickly expose the bold conqueror to idealistic assassins, who themselves soon perish in the rise of the Augustan Empire. Not a work for scrupulous scholars, but a richly resonant history for the general reader. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Holland also gives the reader a strong understanding of the things that motivated the Romans - and they were highly motivated - glory, honor, tradition, military valour, and duty, but ambition, superstition, and avarice, as well. In the end, the unimagined wealth brought home by military conquests from the new imperial possessions allowed the concentration of too much wealth, power, and military might in too few hands. Once unstoppered, the pull of absolute power was too great to resist.
The end of the Roman Republic, more so than the much later fall of the Roman Empire, is a tale worth pondering. Tom Holland has made this experience exceedingly enjoyable, not to mention educational.
The beginning of Holland's book, like the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic, is harder to spot. Does it start with the fall of Carthage? With the murder of reformer tribunes Tiberius Gracchus and Gaius Gracchus? Or with the first clashes between Marius and Sulla? Holland tells it all, in a spellbinding narrative that is hard to put down.
In just under four hundred pages, we get a short overview of the early republic, and then a focused narrative its final century. This is the story of some of history's greatest men and women, from Sulla to Cato, Pompey and Cicero and Cleopatra, and of course, Julius Caesar. It is a tale of murders and political maneuvering, honor and greed and lust. And, complicated as it all is, Holland serves as a fine guide through the intricate web of the dying republic.
I think it's the power of the prose, above anything, that makes Holland's book so fascinating. It reads like a novel, probably the best written account of the Roman World I've read since Robert Graves's I, Claudius. At times, he may use anachronistic terms for the narrative ('location, location, location', or 'Mutually Assured Destruction') - but that's a misdemeanor that is easily forgivable, and some may find it charming.
In the blow by blow account of the political struggles, it is sometimes hard to see a larger scheme or thesis. In as far as there is one, it is probably that the decline of the Roman Republic came through the rise of the Roman Empire. As the Romans expanded, out of Italy and into the entire Hellenistic world and beyond, its generals became increasingly rich and powerful. The armies they have raised stopped being faithful to the Republic, and shifted their loyalties to their leaders. The republic became an arena for a small number of powerful men, reducing the rest of the aristocracy to the role of near-spectators, when the best they could do was pick sides.
In the introduction, Holland says that most events in the History are amenable to different interpretation, but in the text itself, there are precious few references to such instances. Holland, I think, generalizes much too much about the way 'Romans' in abstract thought, felt, or acted. His footnotes, referring exclusively to ancient sources (although his bibliography does contain much modern work) is virtually useless for anyone unless they're willing to dig into the primary sources.
But at the end, that's just not that kind of a book. Holland weaves a breathtaking tapestry of characters, events, and touches of mysticism. Any flaws in the historiography are overshadowed by the triumph of storytelling.
This compulsively readable book put it all together in one seamless narrative, and replaced my slides with a breathtaking movie that has it all: epic battles, dynastic soap opera, noble patriotism, eyecatching eccentricity, treacherously shifting alliances, scheming and backstabbing and dazzling hypocrisy, with the survival of a great democracy always at stake and always at risk. Holland pumps an incredible quantity of information into your head, with each personage and event so naturally connected to its neighbor that you don't feel surfeited. As a result, every component has the benefit of a richly detailed context.
What's best is the confidence with which Holland conveys the ethos of the Republic, which is surprisingly alien, yet has points of analogy with our own. Though plenty of plundering and graft goes on, only one major figure, Crassus, acts mainly out of pecuniary motives. Nevertheless, as our own capitalistic democracy's dynamism has been driven by the relentless competition for scarce monetary resources, the Roman republic derived its energy from a relentless competition for "glory", the scarce commodity of high reputation. The intensity, the near desperation, of that drive pushed the borders of Roman conquest outward, increasing the glory of the state and the welfare of its citizenry. But the competition was a centrifugal force, and as the state enlarged, that force ineluctably grew out of balance with the centripetal forces of community and tradition. Ultimately it would burst through the bounds set by the Roman constitution.
The first chapter sets out the history of the first centuries of the Republic, from the overthrow of the king Tarquinius by the first Brutus, through the Carthaginian wars and the murders of the populist Gracchae. The focus grows finer, and the rest of the book deals with the first century B.C. By the time Julius Caesar takes center stage about halfway through, you understand just what is traditional and what is new and nervy about his progress through a sequence of elective offices. He spent years as a brilliant politician, assuming and leaving the severely term-limited highest office of consulship, before he ever set foot in the field as a military commander.
Holland views almost all these characters with a dry, urbane humor, never accepting their own rosy conception of their motives. The only ones who come out looking admirable are the crotchety but forthright Cato, the conspirator Brutus, and (though only in his second persona, after he's completed his bloody destruction of the last remnants of democracy), Caesar Augustus.
I'll be keeping this one around to re-read from time to time. The story alone is that engaging, besides which there's endless fodder for thought. What a pity we no longer learn about this stuff as schoolchildren.