Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ancient Rome by Christopher S. Mackay

Ancient Rome by Christopher S. Mackay single volume from the movement of people's that would become Roman through the fall of the Western Roman Empire in fifth century A.D. This is a monumental task however the author manages to accomplishe it.

He points out in his introduction that he could qualify just about every statement which would become aggravating. In the first 40 pages he does this seemingly for every sentence which had me quite concerned about the rest of the book but when we actually got through the second century B.C. things calm down and the text is quite readable.

There are one or two innovations such as instead of simply referring to the Emperor Augustus as Octavian for his early life the author gives him an intermediate name for part of the narrative. This is irritating since no one else to my knowledge has done this before. Which makes it rather confusing. As the subtitle suggests this is a political and military history which I quite enjoyed we get much more then the list of Emperor's after the first 12 which many books today do. He only really touches on social history where it causes problems in the political or military sphere such as changes in landholding which forced soldiers to be more interested in supporting their general. The General needed to help them receive compensation after campaigning which made them loyal to him personally instead of to the Republic.

There is a substantial list of books for further reading. This is a terrific introductory work and is very highly recommended.

For more ancient history book reviews Take a look at My Ancient History bookshelf.

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