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History Recommendations

 
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jdw
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Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 16866

PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland

This is an excellent "gateway" book for getting into Roman history. It's primary focus is on the period from the Marius-Sulla era to the murder of Caesar, with some background prior to that and a thick chapter on the Antony vs. Octavian battle to the finish that proved what was already known - the Republic was dead. There are many books that are far more detailed and scholarly than this on the period and/or the individuals, both in the form of ancient texts and also modern works. But this gives an extremely readable account of the period, telling the tales of Marius and Sulla, Cicero and Cato, Pompey and Crassus, and Caesar, and in the end Antony and Octavian. Not just them but also less remember people like the wonderfully vile Publius Clodius Pulcher and his nasty sister Clodia.

It's very accesable, and despite coming in around 400 pages discounting the index and notes, it's a quick read since it moves along with strong pacing. 400 pages is actually *short* for the amount of material and events it has to cover.

I say it's a gateway book because if one enjoys it, one is likely to seek out some of the more detailed and scholarly books, and also pick up some of the old texts from the period. But bring the characters to life, warts and all, it invites the reader to want to find out more about these folks. And in the end that's a good thing for someone becoming a fan of Roman history since there are endless supply of books out there to read.


John
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Kronos



Joined: 21 Apr 2009
Posts: 115

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John, thanks for suggesting this book -- even if you did it a million and a half years ago! I am interested in the Roman period, but it's so hard to know what's decent. **adds to Amazon wishlist**

Here's a favorite of mine, being an Anglo-phile, a fan of military history, and a student of the British Empire:

To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World
Arthur Herman

http://www.amazon.com/Rule-Waves-British-Shaped-Modern/dp/0060534257/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240419386&sr=8-1

It's exhaustive, from a popular history standpoint. It covers the British Navy's activities from Henry VIII or so until the present. The most fascinating parts are about the pirate activities of Francis Drake vs the Spanish. And of course, the battles of the Napoleonic Wars get a lot of details and deservedly so.

The suggestions for further reading in the back is almost worth the price of the book alone. . .
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