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Rome's Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  306 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The first biography of thefinal man to stand against Caesar—whose principles and defiance became a rallying cry for future revolutions

He was Rome’s bravest statesman, an aristocratic soldier who slept on the ground with his troops, a Stoic philosopher and staunch defender of the sacred Roman tradition, who inspired early Christianity: This is the story of Marcus Porcius Ca
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
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T.J. Radcliffe
Jan 11, 2013 T.J. Radcliffe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is an impressive work of popular history, focusing on the life and times of one of Rome's strangest politicians.

Cato the Younger was the great-grandson of the famously puritanical Cato the Elder (he of "Carthago delenda est" fame, or however it goes.) Growing up in the shadow of his great ancestor's reputation, and following his own proclivities toward abstention and self-denial, he became an acolyte of Stoic philosophy and adopted a wide range of extremely eccentric behaviours, from wearin
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Catherine Martin
Jul 31, 2013 Catherine Martin rated it really liked it
Two disclaimers: I know and like Rob Goodman (he was my student for two years) and I am a Latin teacher, so both of these factors probably made me more favorably disposed towards this book from the get-go. That said, I found this biography of Cato the Younger really informative and readable. I especially appreciated that second piece: "readable." I am tired of scholarly works that get so bogged down in specialized terminology or biographies that forget that you can make even the most fascinating ...more
Edwin
Aug 14, 2013 Edwin rated it it was amazing
A great biography of the forgotten man of the Republic's last days. Cato didn't leave us stacks of letters and speeches like Cicero; he didn't leave us third-person editions of his diary like Caesar. The standard pop history version of the story is all about Caesar and Pompey, with some timely mentions of Cicero, and the occasional aside that there was this guy named Cato who was important at the time too--but good luck getting many details of his life and career.

What I love about this biography
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C.R.
Jan 02, 2013 C.R. rated it liked it
An interesting book with great potential, but wildly uneven in its pacing, unclear in its narrative, helter skelter in its topic choices, and prone to far too much remote psycho-analysis. The authors take time out to explain nuances of late Republican politics that aren't relevant and skip points that are. The citations and resources are good, the use of them not so much. Still, not bad for the first biography of the man himself in 2,000 years.
Peter
May 03, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it
“Do not suppose that our ancestors, from so small a beginning, raised the Republic to greatness merely by force of arms . . . There were many other things that made them great, which we lack: industry at home; equitable government abroad; minds impartial in council, uninfluenced by any immoral or improper feeling.

Instead of such virtues, we have luxury and avarice, public distress and private superfluity; we extol wealth and yield to indolence; no distinction is made between good and bad men; an
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JS Found
Jan 08, 2014 JS Found rated it it was amazing
Reading this after the American government shutdown, it's hard not to think of Sen. Ted Cruz. Cato also disrupted the business of government, theatrically filibustering laws he didn't like. He also disliked change in how the government did things, preferring the old ways. Though he railed against actual abuses and corruptions--instead of a positive health care law--he did nothing to fix the wider, more endemic and systematic problems that made those abuses possible. And he didn't compromise at ...more
Jeffrey Rasley
Apr 10, 2014 Jeffrey Rasley rated it really liked it
I was not well acquainted with Cato. I was aware the Cato Institute, a Libertarian-leaning foundation, had claimed the name and that Cato was a Stoic and enemy of Julius Caesar. That's about it. So, I very much enjoyed being educated via this audiobook. It relates Roman history and politics, elucidates Stoic philosophy, and describes the effect of Cato through history as an inspirational character. Unfortunately, Goodman is forced to rely heavily on Plutarch to such an extent I began to wonder ...more
Jane
Fascinating biography of Cato the Younger, overlooked in our days but such a great influence on history, especially that of the U.S. No, he was not a "democrat" [not the political party but the general idea] as we understand it, but tried to hold on to the idea of "libertas" [freedom] and the Roman Republic, which were slipping away in the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, autocrats both. Rather than live under Caesar, in Utica on the African coast, he kills himself, a gruesome drawn-out deat ...more
Aitor García Rey
Aug 23, 2016 Aitor García Rey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rome's Last Citizen is a fresh, vivid, thrilling narration of Rome's Republic last days and the vital role of Cato the Younger and his stoic principles on it.

The non-academic narrative style works for the piece and not against it and makes the book the most modern take on a classic figure/context I've read in a very long time.
Lauren Albert
Cato is a model for the idea that uncompromising integrity is likely to lead to uncompromising failure. One of the parts of the book I found most interesting was Goodman's concluding discussion of Cato's "afterlife" as a figure to emulate.
Yousef Damra
Aug 17, 2016 Yousef Damra rated it it was amazing
In the first 4 chapters the book explores Cato's early development, and since it is impossible to do so the author explains what a typical aristocratic education would be,the changes that happened to Rome(dictators and tyrannicides,the cultural shift brought about mainly by Greek influence and the introduction of slavery after the wars with Carthage which lead to a highly dysfunctional and volatile society and army). The first few chapters also lists some notable events in the life of the Stoic ...more
Allan Groves
Nov 07, 2016 Allan Groves rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to Cato the Younger earlier this year while reading Plutarch. Few other "heroes" affected me as profoundly as Cato the Younger. Almost immediately upon finishing Plutarch's Cato I went searching for more material. The two additional sources I ended up purchasing were Joseph Addison's play and Rob Goodman's book.

I'm no Cato scholar, so I can't speak to the accuracy or nuances of his history compared with any other historian -- but as far as an extremely insightful and entertaini
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Gustavo
Nov 23, 2015 Gustavo rated it it was amazing
Simply put this is the best book I've read so far this year. After finishing Hillyard's “Cincinnatus and the Citizen-Servant Ideal” I was still searching for a good biography on virtuous political leadership, so I stumbled onto Rob Goodman and Jimmi Soni's life of Cato the Younger (Caesar's mortal enemy), making it in the end the best possible follow-up.
The first thing that stands out from this biography is that it is extremely well written. The prose, intelligence and wit make this book defini
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Harold Johnson
Nov 07, 2013 Harold Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Just before I read this book, I read Rubicon, and after Cato I read Cicero by Anthony Everitt. Rome's Last Citizen suffered in comparison, especially in comparison to Everit's book on Cicero.

First of all Cato is not an appealing historical character. He was rigid, totally inflexible except on a few occasions in which he benefitted personally, absolutely not open to compromise and thus hastened the end of the Republic. Probably nothing could have persuaded the aristocracy to change the Constitut
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Ian Miller
Jun 21, 2015 Ian Miller rated it it was amazing
The book is a biography of Marcus Porcius Cato, a stoic, and as described on the cover, "mortal enemy of Caesar". However, it is also an account of the death of the Roman Republic, it shows why it died, and it paints Cato as the last citizen to try and prevent its death. It was also an exercise in futility. Cato stood for "what was right" at a time when corruption, bribery and the use of brute force prevailed. In principle, the law provided justice, but in practice, trials could be bought. ...more
Matt
Sep 17, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing
Great biography of the legendary stoic. Also proves an excellent overview of the personalities and nuances surrounding the fall of the Roman Republic.
Vicki Cline
Aug 13, 2014 Vicki Cline rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-history
This is a very readable biography of one of the most interesting characters of the late Roman Republican era. Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger was a very conservative Senator and did everything he could stop the plans of the populares, those politicians who catered to the masses. In particular, he hated Caesar, perhaps in part because Cato's half-sister Servilia was Caesar's mistress. After Caesar finally wrapped up the Gallic wars and wanted to stand for consul without entering the city (because ...more
Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
Jun 30, 2013 Joseph Adelizzi, Jr. rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the thorough historical context the authors gave to Cato's life, and the boook certainly left me with some lasting images and moving quotes (one from Lucan proved to be a favorite), but the most memorable remnant from this work will be the conundrum over whether an almost unwavering adherence to an ideal is admirable or ill-advised. Also, another point that struck me was the authors' negative treatment of Cicero versus the positive treatment of Cato. While I realize there is much in ...more
John
Sep 05, 2016 John rated it it was amazing
Truly a well written book and fascinating. Both authors are speechwriters and it shows, particularly in a story line which occasionally lapses into pauses and explanations. Cato is probably one of history's most influential figures and he deserves to be read about as one reads of Washington, Henry VIII, etc.

Best part of the book is that it explains the motivations and fears of the time - other Roman history books I have read lately don't do a good job of this.

Great read - outside the context of
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Brendan Rowe
Jan 01, 2013 Brendan Rowe rated it really liked it
Brendan Rowe A very well-researched and entertaining account of Cato the Younger. The author makes some attempt to reconstruct the childhood of the man (as Roman stoic philosophy discounts any concept of childhood as we know it) and attempts to debunk some myths of his early life.

There is an issue with typographical errors, however. While this can be overlooked since they occur maybe one every five pages and can be forgiven due to the overall word count, the nature of them does change the contex
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Taylor
Mar 28, 2014 Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read and insight on Cato, liberty, and stoicism

the author did a wonderful job putting together the story and legacy of Cato. whether the virtuous cowboy, the self sacrificing patriot, or the captain going down with his ship, they and so many more all stem from the mythos of Cato. this book excels at showing both Cato's attributes and flaws as we get a glimpse into Cato the man, Cato the citizen, Cato the politician, Cato the stoic, and perhaps most importantly, Cato the mythology.
Brandur
Jan 07, 2016 Brandur rated it really liked it
A book which gives good information on Cato without being so overbearing as to present him in an overly biased way. The period of Roman history covered is largely the final years of the Republic through which Cato lived and had an active role (and for readers less familiar with the time, these also happen to be some of the most interesting years in the entirety of Roman history), and culminating with Julius Caesar's ascension.

There were a few parts of the book that worded slightly oddly (Cato's
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Jeffrey A. Raff
Insightful depiction of Cato

this is a well written presentation of the life of Cato that recognizes his flaws as well as his greatness. Not only is the subject matter fascinating but the writing is of equal value to the subject. This is a book meant for the general reader as well as for those interested in Roman history and it reads almost like a work of fiction. Highly recommended.
Mike
Dec 07, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
As a lover of history, I don't believe I'd never read about Cato before. What an incredible life. "Rome's Last Citizen" was an excellent read, providing plenty of context to explain the uniquely brilliant life of Cato the Younger. I even went to see Goodman and Soni speak about the book at the Cato Institute in DC -- both were excellent, entertaining guys who seem to have found a topic they love. Great work!
Joseph
Feb 05, 2013 Joseph rated it liked it
Fourteen out of fifteen chapters consist of an engaging biography of a classical figure who deserves to be better known, to which I would have given four stars. The prologue, final chapter and epilogue betray a stereotypically American solipsism in which the impact of Cato's life on our sainted "Founding Fathers" would seem to exhaust his contemporary relevance, and the authors hint broadly at the lessons they hope readers will draw from his life--lessons that are, at best, disputable.
Colin
The best account of Cato's life I have ever read, and an extremely fair one, examining his many failings as well as his successes, but also examining Cato's impact and importance. I urge all Stoics, all Classicists, and really, anyone with an interest in Ancient Rome and especially the last years of the Republic to read this book!
Colleen
Feb 10, 2015 Colleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Great book--the parallels to Cato's uncompromising refusal to negotiate to modern day politics was great--especially his influence throughout that ages. Enjoyed the irony in Cato's life that had he compromised just a bit, perhaps the Imperial system would have been delayed or never happened to begin with.

Great book on a complicated subject.
Fritz
Jun 14, 2013 Fritz rated it really liked it
Overall, this was a fascinating book. I learned a lot about Roman history, which was particularly fun because I've been to Rome. I wish I could have read this before that trip.

The last two chapters seemed disconnected from the rest of the book and were less interesting.

Still, a great read.
Alexandra
Feb 07, 2013 Alexandra rated it really liked it
A biography that's professional, yet lay-friendly, in tone; dense, but still informative (especially for a Roman history novice). This one might actually end up in the personal collection, it's that good. Cato was a fascinating, frustrating man.
Sam
Sep 15, 2015 Sam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I've always been fascinated in the life of Cato, and I thought that this was an interesting look at the man's life. I'd recommend this for anyone interested in Cato or Roman history.
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