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Paperback Julius Caesar Book

ISBN: 0743289544

ISBN13: 9780743289542

Julius Caesar

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Book Overview

A fascinating, comprehensive biography of the cunning Roman conqueror Julius Caesar. More than two thousand years after his death, Julius Caesar remains one of the great figures of history. He shaped Rome for generations, and his name became a synonym for "emperor"--not only in Rome but as far away as Germany and Russia. He is best known as the general who defeated the Gauls and doubled the size of Rome's territories. But, as Philip Freeman describes...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Brilliant Writer!

Phillip Freeman’s depiction of Julius Caesar is breathtakingly vivid. It felt like I was surfing the thoughts of Caesar himself. His story captured my imagination and didn’t let go. Bravo! “Let the dice fly high.”

Pro-Caesar, for the most part

According to Philip Freeman's account, Julius Caesar may have been the most misunderstood man in history. He owed his military and political career to the plebians, the lower class Romans with whom he sided. By doing this he won the never-ending antipathy of the patrician families who controlled the Roman senate. As a general Caesar led from the front. When he was in danger of losing a battle to the patrician forces in Spain, he charged the opposing line single-handedly, embarrassing his men into redoubling their efforts, snatching victory from defeat. We know as much as we do about Caesar thanks to his own account of the GALLIC WARS, which has survived, and Freeman quotes from it extensively. Perhaps Caesar's most impressive victory was the BATTLE OF ALESIA, where he fought a two front battle against the Gauls under Vercingetorix whom he'd cornered in the city, only to be confronted by 100,000 Gaulish soldiers in his rear. We see Caesar rise from a poor patrician family living in the slums of Rome to work his way up from military tribune, to sequester, to aedile, to preaetor and eventually consul of Rome. One of his first official acts was to redistribute land to the plebians and the Roman soldiers, some of which was taken from the rich patrician families who controlled the Senate. On his way to becoming consul, Caesar was in charge of keeping the Appian Way in good repair. Caesar was not only a great general and politician, he was also an engineer, a great public speaker, and a lawyer. We also get a good look at the Roman Civil Wars. At first, Caesar gained power through a triumvirate with the great general Pompey and Crassus a rich Roman senator. But because of his successes in Gaul, Pompey became jealous and eventually went to war with Caesar after Caesar crossed the Rubicon, a sort of demilitarized zone most generals knew not to cross. Pompey had a large army, more than twice as large as Caesars. When Caesar confronted him in Greece, it looked like the jig was up once again. It was only because of his supreme confidence and superior tactical skills that Caesar was able to defeat the great Pompey. As you read this biography, you will be amazed at the number of times, Caesar snatched victory from defeat. He should've lost in Gaul, he should've lost to the patrician forces in Spain, he should've been decimated in Egypt. Pompey had him defeated but was too cautious to move in for the kill. Caesar's undoing came when he had defeated the patrician forces and come home to accept his laurels. He was given four triumphs (victory parades) and was made dictator for ten years. During one of the triumphs his soldiers complained that Caesar was spending too much money that should've rightfully gone to his old soldiers. Caesar had two of them put to death and sacrificed to the god Mars. He let the laurels go to his head, and the conspirators were worried he wanted to be king. My one complaint about the book is that we don't get a real good look at t

Great Read

Phillip Freeman's Julius Caesar is a highly accessible, fast pasted and fascinating read on the life of the emperor that Alexander Hamilton called the "the greatest man that ever lived." There is no purple prose or pretentious writing here and the history is brought to life with vivid details and historical background that other authors on the subject have neglected. For example; I've read many books about Rome and have been a bit annoyed that the authors will often give--let's say--great detail about the war against the Gauls without really telling you who the Gauls were and where they came from. Freeman tries to remedy this and gives you the necessary background to see Rome in the larger context of its neighbors and its times. Gaul is just one little example but Freeman also gives you important and entertaining background on the socioeconomic climate in Rome, The Druids of Britain, the inner working of the Senate and lots of other swell stuff. I have written this review because when I looked at the aggregate review of the books I notice that it had only gotten three stars. Having read the book and really enjoyed it (I read a lot about Roman History) I couldn't understand the oddly low score. Then I read the reviews and found that the three stars were based on two five stars reviews and a single one star review that was written by a troglodyte that had no idea what they were talking about. I just want to try and remedy one of life's minor but obnoxious injustices.

Fantastic introduction to Roman history and Julius Caesar

Prior to reading this book, I knew very little about Caesar and next to nothing about the Roman Republic. This book certainly changed that. Personally, I'm a fan of history in its purest form: meticulously researched, free of romantic speculation, and presented as objectively as possible. However, even though this book is written more like an action novel than a textbook, I enjoyed it wholeheartedly. I couldn't put the book down and despite being a fairly slow reader, finished the book in 2 days. I highly recommend this to anyone looking to get started with Roman history and anyone else merely looking for a fast paced, action packed story of one of history's most incredible figures.

Fascinating biography

Philip Freeman's Julius Caesar is a fascinating and well-written book. Prior to reading Freeman's book, what I knew about Caesar I had learned from Shakespeare. While Shakespeare was a wonderful playwright, he was not a historian. Freeman's book provides a highly readable account of Caesar's fascinating life-- from master military leader and engineer (he designed, and he and his troops constructed, the first bridge across the deep, wide, and swiftly flowing Rhine in just a few days) to his years as chief priest of Rome when among other things he redesigned the calendar to the one we still basically use today. As I read the book, I was struck by the similarity of some of Caesar's campaigns to the present-day war in Iraq. As Freeman states in his introduction, his book doesn't come to "praise Caesar overmuch nor to bury him among the tyrants of history." Rather we are left to form our own opinion of this controversial man. I not only recommend this book to novice Caesar historians, such as myself, but also to more knowledgeable readers of ancient Rome who will undoubtedly learn something new about this remarkable man and his times.
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