Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic


Rome is an endlessly interesting topic. An empire that lasted for so long and achieved so much, plus has written records, is bound to have many stories.

This book focuses on some of the best-known and most turbulent parts of its history. The names covered will be familiar to most: Caesar, Sulla, Pompey, Crassus, Cicero, Mark Anthony, Octavian, Cleopatra.

The upheaval and continual fighting, both internal and external, make this part of history more complex than The Game of Thrones. Which is ultimately what it became — the victor becoming the first emperor in all but name.

The author does a good job of laying this all out in an easy-to-follow fashion, with only a desire to show the full breadth of his vocabulary being a slight annoyance.

As probably should be expected from a book that essentially just charts historic events, it does tend to get a bit dry in places. And the time covered seems a little odd in places. I realise there may not be events to tell throughout all these years but whole decades seem to be fast-forwarded through to then spend entire chapters on relatively small sections.

Interesting if, like me, you’re a fan of Roman history (or history in general), but much of it will have been covered by previous exposure, so possibly best for those with limited prior experience of the period.

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Reviewed: 26th March 2020