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There was a time, of course, when most of us would not only have known the life of Caesar backwards and forwards, but would have read him in the original Latin. Today though it's not even a safe assumption that everyone was exposed to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in school. Still, what with the success of movies like Gladiator, tv shows like HBO's Rome, novels like Steven Saylor's Gordianus mysteries, those of Colleen McCullough and Conn Iggulden, and Robert Harris's Imperium, and the penchant of pundits for comparing 21st Century America to Imperial Rome, it seems fair to say that there's at least a mini-boom of interest in the ancients. Comes now Adrian Goldsworthy, who John Keegan famously described as, "one of our most promising young military historians today," with an invaluable biography of the great man himself.

As we've noted in the past, Mr. Goldsworthy once again demonstrates a real facility with describing convoluted military action so that the layman can follow it. This is important here because Caesar spent so much of his life at war. Indeed, the author raises the possibility that Caesar fought more major actions than any other leader in history. But Mr. Goldsworthy also shows a sure hand in describing the political machinations back in Rome, where Caesar was forced to battle just as hard as he ever did in Gaul. Topping it all off are insights into Caesar's personality, sexual conquests, and literary career as well as a solid grounding in the social and political milieu of his times. That he manages to handle all of these quite different themes so well, and presents them in such readable fashion, makes this a definitive biography.

Personally, I found the book to be an especially effective complement to Rome, and vice versa, because Mr. Goldsworthy gives you the facts and the battles that the show doesn't have the time, in the first case, or the money, in the latter, to present. The series, on the other hand, succeeds dramatically by showing the personalities and petty feuds that often drove events even moreso than any historical forces. If you're watching the show you'll find the book enhances your viewing experience greatly and if you're reading the book you'll find the series fleshes out the characters nicely.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

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Adrian Goldsworthy (2 books reviewed)
Biography
Adrian Goldsworthy Links:

    -Adrian GoldsworthyWikipedia)
    -BOOK SITE: Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy (Yale University Press)
    An Empire of the Mediterranean: There was more to Carthage than her defeat by Rome (ADRIAN GOLDSWORTHY, 7/23/11, WSJ)
    -ESSAY: Caesar: Diplomacy and power: How would four of the greatest war leaders in history have handled Iraq? (Adrian Goldsworthy, December 29, 2006, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of THE CLASSICAL WORLD: An Epic History From Homer to Hadrian by Robin Lane Fox (Adrian Goldsworthy, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Jonathan P. Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (264 BC - AD 235) (Adrian Goldsworthy, Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Adrian Goldsworthy (Book TV, 12/16/06)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: with Adrian Goldsworthy (Tom Ashbrook, 9/15/06, On Point)
    -PODCAST: with Adrian Goldsworthy (Yale University Press)
    -ARCHIVES: "adrian goldsworthy (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy (Tom Holland, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Adam Kirsch, NY Sun)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Anthony Everitt, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Christopher Hart, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Steve Coates, International Herald Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Dave Gagon, Deseret Morning News)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (David Walton, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (A.A. Nofi, Strategy Page)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (The Week)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (N.S. Gill, About.com)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Irene Hahn, About.com)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Blake D. Dvorak, Washington Times)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Pete Stothard, Globe & Mail)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Noonie Minogue, The Tablet)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Tara Pepper, Newsweek)
    -REVIEW: of Caesar (Tracy Lee Simmons, Washin gton Post)
    -REVIEW: of How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower By Adrian Goldsworthy (Brandon Crocker , American Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of (
    -REVIEW: of IN THE NAME OF ROME by Adrian Goldsworthy (Allan Massie, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of The Roman Army at War 100 BC-AD 200 by Adrian K. Goldsworthy (Dr. Randall S. Howarth, Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
    -REVIEW: of Roman Warfare by Adrian Goldsworthy (Ashton Boone, Encompass: A Journal of Military History)

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