SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world's foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements and why they are still important to us.
Covering 1,000 years of history and casting fresh light on the basics of Roman culture, from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, this is a definitive history of ancient Rome.
SPQR is the Romans' own abbreviation for their state: Senatus Populusque Romanus, 'the Senate and People of Rome'.
"An irrepressible enthusiast with a refreshing disregard for convention." ( Financial Times)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mr. D on 01-12-15
Interesting and erudite
What made the experience of listening to SPQR the most enjoyable?
Mary Beard is one of our leading Classical scholars and yet this is a very entertaining and readable (or listenable) book. Rather than being a flighty survey of the period, Beard provides an accessible, clear and interesting broad account of Rome without watering it down.
What was one of the most memorable moments of SPQR?
Beard's use of recent scholarship within a solid survey of the period.
Have you listened to any of Phyllida Nash’s other performances? How does this one compare?
Pompeii by Mary Beard. Another fine performance.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Probably not - you would want to dip into this and reflect before moving onto the next chapter in order not to be overwhelmed by the depth of the text.
22 of 24 people found this review helpful
By Mary on 09-11-15
Where does SPQR rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Very very highly. Mary Beard has provided me with a much needed overview of Roman history. It's a cleverly crafted book, moving steadily forward through the historical dimension but pausing from time to time to explore the big themes in depth or to meet the big characters. And it's not just the big names it introduces us to; some of the most moving episodes concern ordinary people whose lives we can only glimpse through the archaeology, perhaps an inscription on a gravestone.The author always tells us what evidence lies behind the historical consensus, sometimes questioning it and sometimes admitting to lack of conviction. It was often funny and irreverant and never dull or self important.
What other book might you compare SPQR to, and why?
Other good histories such as Robert Goodwin's Spain.
What does Phyllida Nash bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
A model narrator. She animates Mary Beard's prose (which hardly needs animating) and, importantly, stays in the background.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
25 of 28 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By William Blignaut on 16-07-17
An exceptional book
This is without a doubt one of the most provocative books written in recent years on the subject of Rome. Mary Beard handles the subject with precision and systematically explores themes which seldom get covered in the normal course of writing. This is an exceptional book.
By Robyn on 09-01-16
In depth look at all things (ancient) Roman
My 3-star rating is a compromise between my objective and subjective opinions of this book. Objectively it is a stunner – such a wide-ranging meticulously researched and engagingly written history of 1000 years of Rome and its empire and people can only be described as a masterpiece which warrants a wholehearted 5-star rating. Mary Beard presents the fruits of her rigorous scholarship in an almost conversational manner making it accessible to anyone from novices to those who are already familiar with Rome and its history. So far, so good. But subjectively, even though I knew I was listening to a book which ticked all the boxes, I did not actually enjoy it. Despite the wealth and variety of material, mostly I found it flat. I found the narration flat too, but don’t know whether it was the narrator or the material. It felt like reading a history book in preparation for an exam or assignment, a duty rather than a pleasure. So, five stars for content and one star for grabbing my attention – that makes an overall rating of three stars.