Ancient Rome : The Rise and Fall of an Empire, Paperback

Ancient Rome : The Rise and Fall of an Empire Paperback

4 out of 5 (3 ratings)


This is the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known.

Simon Baker charts the rise and fall of the world's first superpower, focusing on six momentous turning points that shaped Roman history.

Welcome to Rome as you've never seen it before - awesome and splendid, gritty and squalid.

From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discover the most critical episodes in Roman history: the spectacular collapse of the 'free' republic, the birth of the age of the 'Caesars', the violent suppression of the strongest rebellion against Roman power, and the bloody civil war that launched Christianity as a world religion.

At the heart of this account are the dynamic, complex but flawed characters of some of the most powerful rulers in history: men such as Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero and Constantine.

Putting flesh on the bones of these distant, legendary figures, Simon Baker looks beyond the dusty, toga-clad caricatures and explores their real motivations and ambitions, intrigues and rivalries. The superb narrative, full of energy and imagination, is a brilliant distillation of the latest scholarship and a wonderfully evocative account of Ancient Rome.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448 pages, 32
  • Publisher: Ebury Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9781846072840



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

An excellent book that keeps the reader fascinated from the foundation of Rome and the Roman empire through the multitude of historical events eventually leading to its descent into disintegration. The vivid style puts you in the middle of the struggles between Senate, emperors and the military. You can look over the shoulders of great figures like Julius Caesar, Augustus or Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, better known as Nero. But in the end not a Roman emperor keeps the upper hand, instead the 'barbarian' king Odovacar brings the Western half of the Roman empire to its ultimate conclusion.

Review by

Simon Baker's Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire is a good introduction to Roman history, covering various key points in the history of Rome. Probably not the same key points that someone else would choose, but he makes a decent case for the importance of each stop on the tour. Some people's reviews say that if you have the most basic grasp of Roman history, this is too simple: I wouldn't say so. I have a GCSE and an A Level in classical studies, but the effect was a very similar kind of 'tour' of Roman history that just picked out different stopping points. So there were some things I didn't know much about at all.One thing that is a little disappointing is the transitions between each chapters. It isn't really made clear how the transitions between the different time periods were made -- it goes straight from Constantine, for example, to the attacks on Rome by Alaric, without covering the intervening time at all. Even a little timeline at the start of each chapter would've helped.Still, Simon Baker's prose is pretty readable and accessible. If you're not especially interested in the topic, I still wouldn't recommend this, as despite the six turning points it uses, it's still a 400 page volume. A Very Brief Introduction it ain't.All in all, for me it was okay, but I'll be donating my copy to the local library rather than keeping it.

Review by

An excellent book, very popular amongst students at the university were I work, they told me to read this book.