Tom Holland is a historian of the ancient world and a translator.
His books include Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman
Republic, Persian Fire, In the Shadow of the Sword and The Forge of
Christendom. He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil
for the BBC. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical
Association prize, awarded to "the individual who has done most to
promote the study of the language, literature and civilization of
Ancient Greece and Rome." He lives in London with his family.
Visit the author's website at www.tom-holland.org.
After a palace coup demolished the reign of King Tarquin of Rome in 509 B.C., a republican government flourished, providing every person an opportunity to participate in political life in the name of liberty. As Holland, a novelist and adapter of Herodotus' Histories for British radio, points out in this lively re-creation of the republic's rise and fall, the seeds of destruction were planted in the very soil in which the early republic flourished. It was more often members of the patrician classes who had the resources to achieve political success. Such implicit class distinctions in an ostensibly classless society also gave rise to a new group of rulers who acted like monarchs. Holland chronicles the rise to power of such leaders as Sulla Felix, Pompey, Cicero and Julius Caesar. Some of these leaders, such as Pompey, appealed to the masses by expanding the republic through military conquest; others, like Cicero, worked to reinforce class distinctions. Holland points to the suppression of the Gracchian revolution-a series of reforms in favor of the poor pushed by the Gracchus brothers in the second century B.C.-as the beginning of the end of the republic, providing the context into which Julius Caesar would step with his own attempts to save the republic. As Holland points out, Caesar actually precipitated civil wars and helped to reestablish an imperial form of government in Rome. With the skill of a good novelist, Holland weaves a rip-roaring tale of political and historical intrigue as he chronicles the lively personalities and problems that led to the end of the Roman republic. Maps. Agent, Patrick Walsh. (On sale Feb. 17) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Stunning. . . . Holland keeps his narrative moving at chariot-race
"This gripping narrative resurrects some of the half-forgotten personalities and events that shaped who we are. . . . It enables the reader to relive the slow, bloodstained collapse of a system, not only as a fascinating drama in its own right but as a morality tale." -Anthony Everitt, author of Cicero
"A fascinating picture of Roman city life. . . . In every aspect of this story, Holland expertly makes the Romans, so alien and yet so familiar, relevant to us." -Los Angeles Times
"Tremendously intelligent, vibrant and witty." -The Washington Times
"The crispest and most compelling account. . . . A historical thrill ride." -The Seattle Times
"Splendid. . . . Rich. . . . Holland writes history with a sense of immediacy, and with the passion and pacing of a novelist. . . . His absorbing, witty narrative captures the scope and drama of the republic and shapes its labyrinthine elements into a single continuum." -Houston Chronicle
"[A] book that really held me, in fact, obsessed me. . . . Narrative history at its best." -Ian McEwan, The Guardian, Books of the Year
"Very readable. . . . Witty, literate. . . . [It] outlines as no other story in history can the perils and misadventures that bring down democratic governments." -St. Petersburg Times
"Gripping and hugely entertaining. . . . It is a story crammed with drama and spectacle, but the real attraction of Holland's book is the wit and contemporary sensibility that he brings to his often bloody tale." -The Sunday Times (London), Top 5 History Books of the Year
"Lucid, stylish and witty, and interesting in its analysis. . . . Informative, balanced, and accessible, Holland's compelling brand of narrative history is a praiseworthy rendition of one of the most complex periods in history." -BookPage
"A lively, popularly written history. . . . Holland's book is full of memorable characters." -World
"Explosive stuff. . . . Seriously intelligent history written with elan and gusto." -BBC History Magazine
"Lively, readable, briskly paced. . . . Thoroughly grounded in the relevant source material. . . . Seamless, forward-moving. . . . Not only a gripping account of the Roman past, but an important perspective on the current American moment. . . . Rubicon succeeds brilliantly." -Claremont Review of Books
"Richly resonant. . . . Ancient history lives in this vivid chronicle." -Booklist (starred review)
"A terrific read and a remarkable piece of scholarship. As an introduction to Roman history, it is unlikely to be bettered." -Daily Mail
"Holland brings a novelist's eye to the ancient republic's collapse. . . . [He] also draws a fascinating portrait of the social life of Rome and the republic in the first century B.C. . . . Written with flair, wit and solid historical research, Rubicon is grand history and grandly entertaining." -Flint Journal
"A vivid social portrait of the Roman world." -Sunday Telegraph