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.
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The book is excellent.
Tom Holland certainly knows how to write an engaging work! He blends the everyday Roman experience and motivators with the grand strokes of history, giving a fuller understanding to why the Roman republic gave way to empire. It's like all the best parts of my Latin and Classics classes rolled into a story.
I recently also read Dynasty by Tom Holland, and it made me curious to see what his take on the final years of the republic would be like.
I know that we can't really know how the ancient Roman's said their names, but the pronunciations of some words were too distracting. The narrator often uses English vowel sounds rather than European ones, so Marius becomes "Mary-iss" instead of "Mah-rius", Campania became Cam-pain-ya. It's not the end of the world but it's very different from how I've herd those words pronounced and it just grated. Other than that the narrator is good.