A Brief History of the Roman Empire, Paperback Book

A Brief History of the Roman Empire Paperback

Part of the Brief Histories series

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


In this lively and very readable history of the Roman Empire from its establishment in 27 BC to the barbarian incursions and the fall of Rome in AD 476, Kershaw draws on a range of evidence, from Juvenal's Satires to recent archaeological finds.

He examines extraordinary personalities such as Caligula and Nero and seismic events such as the conquest of Britain and the establishment of a 'New Rome' at Constantinople and the split into eastern and western empires.

Along the way we encounter gladiators and charioteers, senators and slaves, fascinating women, bizarre sexual practices and grotesque acts of brutality, often seen through eyes of some of the world's greatest writers.

He concludes with a brief look at how Rome lives on in the contemporary world, in politics, architecture, art and literature.




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This history of the Roman Empire isn't as brief as the title suggests. It in fact covers a lot of ground but doesn't dwell on any one thing for too long. I read this as my knowledge of Roman history is patchy.It's quite shocking how siblings would kill each other to gain power. In some cases - such as Caligula - the reverse to hatred happened: he married one of his sisters. I guess he was influenced by the Ancient Egyptians - or just plain mad as he's believed to be.Worse than that was Nero's mother wanting to heal a rift between them by offering herself sexually to him. Glad he didn't go for this, but sad that he had her killed. The author writes in an upbeat tone and informal style that appeals to me. I liked the book in parts rather than on the whole. At times there were so many different names be referred to at once - many emperors have an average of five names - that it confused me as to who was whom. Anyone with a passion for Roman history should like this tome. It's also worth reading if, like me, you have a mild interest in this period.