There are some lessons to be learned here. Excellent easy to read about the rise of Caesar and the conditions that led to the fall of the Roman Republic.
Oct 18, 2007
Caesar: Still a marble bust
The author is fully aware that Caesar did not give us his thoughts, emotions, doubts or conscience, neither in his own commentaries to the 9-year campaign in Gaul, The Gallic Wars or "De Bello Gallica", or elsewhere. The first 180 pages of these more than 500 pages is a long list of various main and subordinate characters who gather around the Forum. It is a long yawn. No character is left unnamed despite mentioned only once, and most remain shadows. Their positions in the semi-decaying Roman republic is less clear. The Gallic Wars is the colorful part. We partipate in battles, skirmishes, sieges, fights against Ariovistus and other Gaulish leaders- campaigns in Britain in between - until Vercingetorix is captured and "All Gaul is conquered". Caesar's few years in Italy, Spain, Macedinia, Egypt and the East brings little new. Neither do the latest period or the "Ides of March" assasination. The author keep close to his sources. As a professional historian he tells us what he feels he can do, but nothing more. A little detachment and improvising from the sources would have provided more insight into the person Caesar - the politican, war leader, writer, dictator, womaniser, and gambler. This is probably the best book abouf Caesar. It is still no living story and more like a sourcebook.
Apr 27, 2007
Illuminating +Scholarly effort
Adrian Goldsworthy has done it again, following upon his recent THE FALL OF CARTHAGE - the Punic Wars 265 - 146 B.C., he brings to life who Ceasar realistically could be understood to be.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-24 The man who virtually defined the West's concept of leadership comes alive in this splendid biography. Military historian Goldsworthy (The Complete Roman Army) gives a comprehensive, vigorous account of Caesar's conquest of Gaul and his victories in the civil war that made him master of Rome. But he doesn't stint on the nonmartial aspects of Caesar's life his dandyism, his flagrant womanizing (which didn't stop enemies from gay-baiting him), his supple political genius and the flair for drama and showmanship that cowed mutinous legionaries and courted Rome's restive masses. Goldsworthy's is a sympathetic profile. In his telling, Caesar's massacres and group enslavements, though "utterly ruthless," are considered and pragmatic, not wanton, and the conqueror seems to possess a moderation and magnanimity that sprang from the same idealized self-image that fed his ambition. The author's vivid portrait of the late Roman Republic that Caesar toppled is correspondingly jaundiced: its politics are about nothing except the personal ambitions of powerful men, and chaos, corruption and violence reign beneath the ritualistic niceties of republican procedure. More compellingly than most biographies, Goldsworthy's exhaustive, lucid, elegantly written life makes its subject the embodiment of his age. 16 pages of b&w photos, maps. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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