Book Review: Emperor: The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden is a top notch novelist and The Gates of Rome is fast paced and absorbing. It is the story of young Julius Caesar, his arduous training for the rigors of the Roman soldiery and his early involvement in Roman politics at the side of his Uncle Marius. Maybe it’s just me, but I [...]

Book Review: Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell

Taylor Caldwell was born in 1900 and was one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed novelists. She published forty books during her 50 year career. She was a favorite of my mother, but, although her books were certainly available in my high school library, I somehow never chanced to read any of them. When I [...]

Book Review: Dictator by Robert Harris

800px-Cicero_-_Musei_Capitolini

Anyone wanting an intensely vivid portrait of the history, politics and culture of the last years of the Roman Republic will want to read this book. Dictator is the third book of a series by Richard Harris based on the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero. The first book, Imperium, covers Cicero’s youth and his rise [...]

Book Review: SPQR, A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard.

Mary Beard writes in a breezy, often anecdotal, style which makes her book both informative and entertaining. SPQR covers the history of ancient Rome from its founding by Romulus to the reign of Emperor Caracalla, who, in the year 202 A.D. granted Roman citizenship to the entire free male population of the empire. This is [...]

“Don’t Know Much About History”-Art Garfunkle

This was a line in a popular song in the late 1960s. Art Garfunkle was not alone. The fact is, huge numbers of Americans really don’t know much about history. When I was writing The Death of Carthage, people would ask me what the book was about and I would say “The Second and Third [...]

Book Review: Augustus by John Williams

John Williams’ Augustus is an epistolary novel-that is, a work composed of letters and memoires. Some of the letters are taken from actual correspondence by historical figures of the time, such as Cicero and Maecenas, and others are complete inventions of the author, speculating on what the character would have written if given the chance. [...]

Book Review: Caesar’s Daughter-Julia’s song

“It was a paranoid time in the City. Politicians were more concerned with denying glory to their rivals than with solving problems. Everybody was stabbing everybody in the back. There was no legitimate economy-it was characterized by exploitation and unsustainable debt. Discontent among the masses was rising-there were high levels of unemployment, and great resentment [...]

Book Review: Eve of Ides by David Blixt

Eve of Ides is a two-act play in which the author, David Blixt marries William Shakespeare and Colleen Mc Cullough. William Shakespeare, of course, wrote the play Julius Caesar, which, as Blixt points out, was more about Marcus Junius Brutus than it was about Caesar. In his playwright’s notes, Blixt states: “It is hard to [...]

Book Review: Caesar’s Ambassador by Alex Johnston

I loved this book. Historical fiction as comedy. A belly laugh on every page. Caesar’s Ambassador is narrated by Marcus Mettius, who serves as ambassador along with Gaius Valerius Troucillus to the German chieftain Ariovistus. “I don’t know why you’re so worried, Marcus. Everybody knows that harassing ambassadors is against the rules. Anyway we treated [...]

Quotes of the Day: On Courage

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet, not withstanding, go out to meet it.”-Thucydides “Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.”-Julius Caesar “Yield not to calamity, but face her boldly.”-Virgil “He is a man of courage who does not run [...]