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Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman…

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic (original 2003; edition 2005)

by Tom Holland

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2,071463,203 (4.02)1 / 103
Title:Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic
Authors:Tom Holland
Info:Anchor (2005), Paperback, 464 pages

Work details

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland (Author) (2003)

  1. 30
    Imperium by Robert Harris (YossarianXeno)
    YossarianXeno: Rubicon and Imperium are both exceptionally well-written and researched accounts, one non-fiction and the other fiction, of the politics of Rome covering much of the same period.
  2. 10
    Persian Fire : The First World Empire and the Battle for the West by Tom Holland (santhony)
    santhony: The same narrative approach to history.
  3. 00
    The Breakdown of the Roman Republic: From Oligarchy to Empire by Christopher S. Mackay (longway)
  4. 00
    The Roman Revolution by Ronald Syme (Thruston)
    Thruston: Syme's dense Tacitean style is a world away from Holland's light narrative sweep, but he conveys the same sense of excitement and tension, albeit with the confines of a much more scholarly approach.
  5. 00
    The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians by Peter Heather (kkunker)

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English (39)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
In a book titled "Rubicon", I would expect actually more than two chapters about the Roman civil war. While I hugely enjoyed Holland's condense sketch of Greek and Persian history in Persian Fire, I found his attempt in presenting the story of the Roman Republic less stellar. His focus is on Sulla and Cato whom he presents as staunch conservative heroes in contrast to Cicero the weather vane and Pompey the vain. His Caesar is quite dull too.

What I lament most, however, is the absence of the stories of the early heroes of the Roman Republic such as Publius Decius Mus whose crazy willingness to sacrifice himself was part of why the other peoples could not resist the Roman impetus. Like the French levée en masse, the Roman Republic was willing to fling countless bodies at its enemies. The Romans were willing to absorb the casualties their enemies could or would not (see Pyrrhic victory). Endurance and frugality (the Roman soldiers ate mostly vegetarian food) in the name of the Republic made the difference (intrinsic instead of extrinsic motivation). The professionalization by Marius and then Sulla prepared the creation of the Roman empire where a commander and no longer the people decided the issue. Insofar, the Republic was already on life support when Caesar entered the stage. ( )
  jcbrunner | Sep 27, 2015 |
The title makes this book sound more extreme than it is: it is lucidly written account of tensions and power struggles in the Roman republic with the focus on the period from around 140 BCE to around 25 BCE. ( )
  mari_reads | Nov 2, 2014 |
Took me a long time to finish - mainly because it was just a succession of rich and powerful men plotting how to get more wealth and power - round and round. I couldn't see how people could be so shocked when the "Republican Ideal" was violated by one gangster or another as the whole Republic seemed to be based on power-grabs anyway! ( )
  SChant | Nov 11, 2013 |
I crossed the Rubicon with this book, hoping it would be a glorious history of Rome and its last days as a Republic, before the Empire began. It is a decent retelling of basic history but really nothing too stalwart. Given the cast of characters and the swirling battles from the days of Tarquin to Caesar, there should be an elevation of prose and heightened enlightenment, but it reads as a thesis from a college student. The book is meant to be popular history for those who don't know Romulus and his tribe, but it just never quite gets there. Short shrift is given to Gaius Marius and even Sulla, who were the two men who dominated Rome before the Empire.

So, not bad, just not great, given the subject matter. But, if you know nothing of Roman history, it will serve a basic purpose.

Book Season = Winter ( )
  Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
Review forthcoming. ( )
  publiusdb | Aug 22, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
As with most academics reviewing a "popular" book, I approached Rubicon with a certain amount of trepidation. The rather hammy sub-title seemed to suggest the worst. However what is inside the covers is a different matter altogether. This is a well-researched, well-written overview of the Roman republic. It should serve as a model of exactly how a popular history of the classical world should be written.

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Holland, TomAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lindgren, StefanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGillivray, KimCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the beginning, before the Republic, Rome was ruled by kings. - Chapter 1
January 10th, the seven-hundred-and-fifth year since the foundation of Rome, the forty-ninth before the birth of Christ. - Prologue
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 034911563X, Paperback)

The Roman Republic was the most remarkable state in history. What began as a small community of peasants camped among marshes and hills ended up ruling the known world. Rubicon paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall. It is a story of incomparable drama. This was the century of Julius Caesar, the gambler whose addiction to glory led him to the banks of the Rubicon, and beyond; of Cicero, whose defence of freedom would make him a byword for eloquence; of Spartacus, the slave who dared to challenge a superpower; of Cleopatra, the queen who did the same. Tom Holland brings to life this strange and unsettling civilization, with its extremes of ambition and self-sacrifice, bloodshed and desire. Yet alien as it was, the Republic still holds up a mirror to us. Its citizens were obsessed by celebrity chefs, all-night dancing and exotic pets; they fought elections in law courts and were addicted to spin; they toppled foreign tyrants in the name of self-defence. Two thousand years may have passed, but we remain the Romans' heirs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:04 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

This narrative history paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall. Tom Holland brings to life the strange and unsettling civilization, which still holds up a mirror to our own.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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