I was looking for a single volume book that covers the history of ancient Rome. In school I had learned about the ancient Greeks and Alexander the Great followed by the Roman Empire and its Senate. But I didn’t know very much about either. My research for a history of Rome led me to this book, which tells the story of Rome from its founding in the eighth century BCE to the granting of citizenship to all free inhabitants by Emperor Caracalla in 212 CE.
Overall, I found the book enlightening. Rather than presenting a bunch of cardboard characters with names and dates, the author gives a surprisingly approachable history that presents the times as very much like our own with people just trying to live their lives. I learned about the leaders, generals, and emperors, but I also read about the poor and enslaved. I gained a view of ancient Rome that was very different than I expected from my cursory knowledge before reading the book.
The author is British. This posed a bit of a challenge for me as an American. Yes, the spelling was different with a lot of extra u‘s, but that wasn’t the issue. The perspective was just the slightest bit different with the use of some words I wasn’t familiar with. That slowed me down. The layout of the content added to the complexity of the topic. It is not strictly chronological, though it mostly is. The subject matter is so vast, there was a little bit of a topical focus that required a little back in forth in time.
In the end, I feel that this book gave me a much clearer and better understanding of a history I formerly only knew at the surface. The work was a little challenging and not a quick read, but I am grateful for the knowledge gained.
My rating: 3.5/5