Summary

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.
©2003 Tom Holland (P)2005 Recorded Books LLC
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Dave on 29-04-12

Bad Romans make great listening

This is essentially a political history of the last century or so of the Roman Republic, ranging from the exploits of Sulla to the rise to the top of Augustus, the first true emperor of Rome. 'Rubicon' is as evocative a title as any, but while Caesar figures prominently of course, it is not primarily about his fateful move in 49 BCE nor about his life and death in general. Instead it is a guide through the roller-coaster journey of Roman politics in the last century BCE, and on the whole it shows Roman politicians as unscrupulous, power-hungry and generally prepared to do anything to achieve their personal aims.

It's a cracking story and it is well told, putting into perspective events that most people will have heard of, like Caesar's 'invasions' of Britain and his later murder. The text moves along nicely, and it is very well read. Major events like wars with 'barbarians' and the Spartacus Slave Revolt are only touched on, and then only when they had an effect on the power politics of the day. Still it is an enjoyable eye-opener into how the Republic's politics worked, and if nothing else it makes even our own disreputable politicians look practically saint-like by comparison.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Andrew M on 22-11-13

a riveting story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I'd recommend this- the story and narration make this exciting to listen to, rather than becoming a dry, detailed lesson on history.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Emily on 28-01-12

Connects the Dots and Fills In the Gaps

Any additional comments?

At one point in its history, Rome was ruled by toga wearing citizen soldiers who were elected by people so afraid of kings that the term of office was only one year. At another point in history, Rome was ruled by decadent and insane emperors who commanded their subjects to worship them as gods. This book explains how and why such a huge change could take place. The book has lively descriptions of the actions of the key players and does a great job in expanding on the motives and consequences of their choices. Highlights include Publius Clodius crashing a female only party in drag, Crassus’ severed head being used as a stage prop by Rome’s enemies in Parthia, Julius Caesar’s exciting campaign in Gaul, Cicero’s sarcastic court case speeches, and tales of grisly battles waged by Pompey Magnus a/k/a “the teenage butcher.” Both the writing organization and narrative style are excellent and I was enthralled. If you only could read one book about Rome, this is a good choice.

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26 of 26 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alex W. on 03-09-12

The Roman Republic With a Hint of Melodrama

What did you love best about Rubicon?

The way the facts are presented in a narrative fashion that allows you to stay engaged from start to finish.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The special attention given to the rise and fall of Julius Caesar is amazing. You find yourself caring for Caesar, Cato and Pompey in a way that makes it somewhat heartbreaking when they meet their inevitable ends.

What about Steven Crossley’s performance did you like?

He is a great narrator in general, and his voice lends credence to the words.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The death of Pompey Magnus.

Any additional comments?

I definitely recommend this, though be warned that if you're looking for the strictest historical account this may not exactly be it. The facts are all there (as well as anyone can say 2000 years after the fact), but Holland is no stranger to embellishment and emotion. The same things that make this book more engaging than your average historical account also detract, if only slightly, from the credibility.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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