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The Spartacus Road Hardcover – June 10, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Stothard is a classicist and the editor of the Times Literary Supplement. A decade ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; after a grueling regimen of surgery and chemotherapy, he managed to survive, and that struggle is interspersed with the struggle of the Thracian slave Spartacus and his followers to gain their freedom from Roman oppression in the first century BCE. This is a quirky, sometimes confusing work, part travelogue, part historical account, and part personal memoir. Stothard takes us across Italy, following in the footsteps of the slave army while recounting their triumphs and eventual destruction. He digresses to describe his personal struggle against a pernicious and formidable enemy. Stothard offers fine descriptions of the battles as Roman armies and the forces of Spartacus move across large areas of southern and central Italy. Spartacus himself remains an understandably murky charater, since accurate source material is sparse, but Stothard provides valuable insights into the nature of Roman society and culture in which as much as a third of the population may have endured various forms of slavery. --Jay Freeman

Review

Mr. Stothard's engaging book reminds us that, for all the secrets the story of Spartacus refuses to give up, it still leads us back to the heart of things." — Wall Street Journal
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1 edition (June 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590203232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590203231
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,148,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Peter Stothard is a first class classicist. He knows his sources and his Latin, no question about that. However, as I purchased the book, I had high expectations to learn more about Spartacus. I was expecting a book like "The Spartacus War," only better. I was disappointed, in that the book is a mixture of the author's musings on life and death and his bout with cancer; recollections about his trip and his encounters on the road with various persons, including fellow turists and local guides; historical information about Spartacus and his journey; lots of un-edited pictures and drawings. Again, no complaints about the author's writing; I just felt very un-interested about his commentary on the Spartacus' journey.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I should have read the other reviews more carefully; this is not a purely historical story of Spartacus, which is what I was looking for. As some of the other reviews before this one indicate, this book is a historical account of Spartacus and ancient roman history, interspersed with the author's commentary on his travels in Italy while gathering the information/reasearch for this book. So along with the historical information, you read about the author's interaction with modern Italian business owners, tour guides, locals, other tourists... Some of this additional stuff is mildly interesting, some of it is banal and boring and I have to power through it to get back to the meat of the historical story. I will read it all, but it is not as interesting a read as I had hoped it would be. If you want just the facts, this is not the book for you; if you like history with personal observations about modern life in Italy, you may enjoy this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Spartacus did the unthinkable--he challenged Romans on their own turf and actually won some battles. The author visits many of the places where Spartacus spent time and contrasts what they are today and what they were during Spartacus' lifetime. I find such comparisons fascinating; they are a reminder that change is a constant and that life is brief. Peter Stothard, who has made a miraculous recovery from usually a fatal form of cancer, injects his own feelings about death in a thought provoking way into the narrative. He is never maudlin or banal, but instead asks us to try to put ourselves in Spartacus' shoes. What would we have done? What decisions did Spartacus take and what were the forces that compelled those decisions? Along the way, Mr. Stothard meets other pilgrims on Spartacus' road who take different tacts on historical touring. In all it is a journey worth taking and a book worth keeping.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. It is 3 books in one--history, travelogue and a description of one mans personal journey of inner exploration after recovering from cancer. I have been interested in Roman history since I studied Latin in high school. This book explores not just Spartacus' revolt, but the institutions of slavery and gladiatorial combat and its place in Roman society. As the author traces Spartacus' movements, he reports not only on modern day Italy and the travelers he meets, but on the nature of Roman life as reflected in the ruins he finds along the way. For me, it helped me understand better how Rome functioned as an organized society. He also brought a new perspective on travel and how to see my own journeys through new eyes. A great read. Even my wife, who is not interested in history books wants to read it.
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