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The Spartacus Road Hardcover – June 10, 2010
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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
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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Top customer reviews
It is DEFINITELY a scholarly work, very interesting, but interspersed with Latin sentences and sometimes obscure citations, familiar only to an Oxbridge alumnus.
So, I would recommend it only if you are ready for some serious, dedicated reading.
If you, like me, expect an entertaining and interesting travelogue with references to ancient history, give it a second thought.
"Stothard is a journalist and editor of The Times Literary Supplement, the author of Thirty Days: An Inside Account of Tony Blair at War, rather than a specialist in Roman history. Nevertheless, he gives us a good account of the "Third Servile War" (73-71 BC). He looks into its background, the events, their meaning, and the echoes and eddies the uprising has had the down the ages, from ancient historians through Marx and on to recent motion picture and television portrayals, and the continuing use of "Spartacist" by some political radicals. Stothard skillfully weaves walks travels across historic landscapes and through ancient ruins with literary and artistic criticism, political analysis, comparisons between ancient and modern culture and society, profiles of notable and not so notable people across the ages, and such, while giving us a running commentary on art, tourists (he crosses paths several times with a knowledgeable Korean, also touring the ancient sites), folklore, literature, and more. In one of his most arresting passages, Stothard describes a recently evacuated villa, otherwise unrecorded in history, that was almost certainly sacked by the rebellious slaves, one of the most amazing finds in recent archaeology."
For the balance of the review, see StrategyPage.Com