Reviews - What do customers think about Rubicon: Auge Y Caida De La Republica Romana (Divulgacion Historia)?
Good read, but strongly slanted toward aritocrats May 6, 2007
This is a well-paced and fairly detailed book about the slow fall of the Roman Republic, but the author seems to persistently spin his rendition of events to favor traditionalists and aristocrats. Therefore Caesar's role in bringing down the Republic is heavily emphasized and decried, but the violent opposition to the Gracchi is made to seem natural.
The fact of the matter is that conservatives had a big hand in undermining the rule of law in Rome, and that resistance by all means necessary to social change had helped turn Rome into a city ruled, in the last instance, by force. This long, long before Caesar crossed the Rubicon.
It is possible to lay more blame on Caesar than many historians have done, but one shouldn't do it by ignoring or glossing over the crimes of conservatives and traditionalists.
Must read survey of Roman History Jan 3, 2007
If you want one book to give you insight into how the Republic of Rome operated and evolved into an Empire, this is the book to get. Very well written. It is fascinating how much modern politics resembles the politics of ancient Rome, as engagingly and clearly described in this book. If you think Julius and Augustus Caesar came to power by military conquest alone (and that is how Republic became Empire), read this book to understand how wrong you are.
History as it Should be Written Nov 3, 2006
The Romans were arguably the most remarkable people in history, although having said that the Greeks would certainly give them a run for their money. Therefore it is no wonder that the Roman Republic is without doubt the most written about and who better to do the writing than Tom Holland, a historian who has a string of successful books behind him. This book certainly achieves what I am sure the author set out to do and that is to entertain and inform the reader at the same time, without boring the pants off them.
It is a sobering thought that what started out as a small community of people living among the marshes and hills of the area ended up as the greatest city of its time with the might and power to rule the known world. A city that had architects and engineers that could easily hold their own in today's modern world. The book paints a picture of Rome in its finest hour. This was the century of Julius Caesar , a man addicted to both power and glory. A man who crossed the Rubicon in a demonstration of both defiance and power.
A time of the great orator Cicero and Spartacus a slave come gladiator who dared to challenge the might of all Rome and briefly, but only briefly glimpsed success. Tom Holland brings to life all of these events and makes the people involved more than just names from long ago. He makes them into living people with likes and dislikes. Lovers of people and things and also the hatred within some of them and the lengths they were prepared to go to achieve their ambitions.
A book bursting with the facts of how people lived and loved in the most famous city in the known world and on the other side of the coin the ones who were continually striving to just to survive.
The history of Rome is still relevent today Feb 26, 2006
The idea that average people need to know history, especially ancient Roman history, has fallen by the wayside in the last several decades. The problem this leads too, naturally enough, is that the people in a democracy loose site when their elected leaders start to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Roman history is filled with people who made mistakes, often times for all the right reasons. Caesar is such a personality. Caesar would contend that he was simply moving to protect the people of the Republic from what was extensive corruption in the systems that governed Rome.
Tyrants rarely come to power saying they are going to enslave the masses and restrict the rights of the average citizen. They always claim, and in many cases truly believe, that they are moving to protect the average men and women of the time. However, in attacking the rights of the powerful, they often end up also restricting the rights of everybody. -- Restriction of civil rights in order to protect and preserve them... this appears to lead to parallels with out own times.
To put to this another way, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".
Even after the Republic had passed and the Empire was in full swing, there was still much to admire in the Romans. "To protect the weak and make humble the proud". Not a bad motto, and they even lived up to it from time to time.
Julius Caesar, in "crossing the Rubicon" didn't know that he was changing everything. The problem is that everything didn't happen on that day. Most events that lead to the Empire had already passed: Sulla's dictatorship had been a defacto empire; the Gracchus brothers had tried reform before and been slapped down -- hard and dead.
It is possible that any large scale nation state, given sufficient size and power, becomes an empire at some point. After all, if Rome, Britain, revolutionary France and other great nations couldn't avoid it that may mean that the only real hope is to embrace the beast and do it well while possibly making some good come from it.
This fine book provides a very good discussion of the transition period from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.
A fascinating era with parallels to our own Feb 24, 2006
Rubicon is a history of the fall of the Roman Republic that reads like a novel, but seems to be based on pretty sound scholarship. Professional historians may quibble with the style, but this is an excellent overview for the average reader, dealing with a subject that is neglected in the school curriculum but seems very relevant to 21st century America.
Starting with a brief runthrough of the early history of Rome, the establishment of the Republic, and the gradual growth of an empire, Hammond gradually focuses in on the last century leading up to Julius Caesar's fateful crossing of the Rubicon and shows the gradual crumbling of values and institutions that allow one brilliant, popular demagogue after another to hijack the government and turn it to his own ends. Pre-emptive wars of "defense" are only one of the tactics that will sound very familiar.
I believe that some reviewers have objected to Hammond's use of "anachronisms," but I found this to be an effective, if not always precise, way to convey what was happening. After all, the fact that a name has only recently been given to "spin" doesn't mean that it hasn't been done for millennia.
This book's real strength, however, is in its portrayal of a huge cast of living, breathing human beings who grow and change over time. Pompey starts off looking like an obnoxious showoff, but his real love for his wives (which got him laughed at in a society even more macho than 20th century America) and his devotion to the Republic give him an air of tragic pathos. Cato is curmudgeonly but honorable to the end, and Hammond's portrait of Caesar projects a charm and ruthlessness that are both utterly calculated and extremely dangerous.
For anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating era, whose parallels to our own can send chills down the spine, I highly recommend Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series.