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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland

Published in 2005 by Anchor

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic is a well-written fact-filled narrative interpretation of the end of the Roman Republic. Interpretation? Of course - all history books are the author's interpretation. Holland has his biases, but it does not distract from the power of the book. With the exception of a slow bit in the middle, this is an entertaining read and worthy to sit on the shelf next to other histories of Rome.

Tom Holland
I wholeheartedly recommend this one for enthusiasts (his spin on things should pique your interest) and also for newcomers to Roman history. It is a fine springboard for further study.

That being said, I do have a little bone to pick with the author, on a topic that has little bearing on the text as a whole. On p. 21 (paperback) Holland claims that the Circus Maximus, the chariot racetrack, was the largest sports arena in the world (200,000 spectators) and it still holds that title today. That is an oft-repeated by British authors and documentaries. As an Indianapolis resident I must correct this - the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has permanent seats for more more than 250,000 and more than 400,000 have been known to cram in to the track in May to watch the Indy 500. Around 300,000 come to the Brickyard 400 as well.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic

Reviewed on October 22, 2007.

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