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Julius Caesar

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  719 ratings  ·  79 reviews
More than two thousand years after his death, Julius Caesar remains one of the great figures of history. He shaped Rome for generations, and his name became a synonym for "emperor" -- not only in Rome but as far away as Germany and Russia. He is best known as the general who defeated the Gauls and doubled the size of Rome's territories. But, as Philip Freeman describes in ...more
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2008)
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Terrific biography of a fascinating man, a great (in a proper sense of the word) man. Freeman does a phenomenal job of making history not only accessible, but compelling as well. The book was educational, interesting and never boring. Though, of course, this is the story everyone knows the ending too. Very glad I found and read this book, nonfiction and/or history doesn't always read this exciting. Highly recommended.
Sep 30, 2013 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Mary by: publisher
Philip Freeman's "Julius Caesar" is a comprehensive biography of the Roman conqueror that is as straightforward and readable as the general's own "Gallic Wars". Freeman not only stitches together the various ancient accounts of Caesar's exploits but adds context to his activities by including helpful background information about his various adversaries pulled from a wealth of modern scholarship. He recounts Caesar's conquest of the Celtic tribes of Gaul against a vivid tapestry of the Celtic cul ...more
I love it when some of the best writing in classical studies comes from professors at smaller colleges like Philip Freeman, who hails from Luther College in Iowa. This is the second book by Freeman that I've read, and I enjoy his books not only for their scholarship but their wonderful sense of narrative. Here his subject is another ambitious and brilliant military strategist whose deeds shaped the world we live in. What really surprised me in reading this though is how much I didn't know about ...more
Masen Production
“Philip Freeman's Julius Caesar is a fascinating and well-written book. I have read many books on the life of Julius Caesar and he is one of my favorite leaders of all times. I can understand what it must have been to serve under him or stand against him. Even 2000 years later one knows that he was a master tactician, intelligent politician, supreme leader who stood in front always and above all he too had flaws which finally saw to his downfall.
Freeman's book provides a highly readable account
As a historian, Philip Freeman is thorough. As a writer, Freeman is thoroughly entertaining. He has succeeded brilliantly in bringing to life one of the most famous historical figures of all time. I found myself captivated by Freeman's narrative style and I flew through his engaging story of Caesar's life and times. Having read Shakespeare's treatment a number of times, it was thrilling to fill in the blanks and better understand the historical context in which this fascinating life was lived. T ...more
Best biography ever read. While politically incorrect, to some degree, I unapologetically view him as the most impressive man who ever lived after reading the biography. He faced such awesome adversity and challenges and always ended-up on top (except until the fateful Ides of March). One is led to believe he almost had devine guidance and protection, until you come to the logical conclusion that he was a true genius in leading people to making strategic, calculated risks. His desire to clean-up ...more
I initially began to read this book as "filler" material, you know the time when you have finished one book and are still looking for the next book that interest you. However, once I started reading I couldn't stop. This was an easy read with just the right amount of detail and summary to keep it interesting. My view on Julius Caesar has been modified and my understanding of politics as well.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in great men and their deeds as well as anyone with an interes
David Schwinghammer
According to Philip Freeman's account, Julius Caesar may have been the most misunderstood man in history. He owed his military and political career to the plebians, the lower class Romans with whom he sided. By doing this he won the never-ending antipathy of the patrician families who controlled the Roman senate.

As a general Caesar led from the front. When he was in danger of losing a battle to the patrician forces in Spain, he charged the opposing line single-handedly, embarrassing his men into
Yet another biography of the gifted Roman war criminal. Not an outstanding book, but the author gets the job done.

Julius Caesar was certainly one of the most remarkable men in history. I imagine him as tall, wiry muscular, with a formidable personality. When he walked into a room, you knew it. He was a workaholic, and brave to the point of insanity. He was also really really really lucky. He made countless gambles, such as sailing in abominable weather, and fighting in one battle after another.
Like some others in the review cadre, I picked up this book post-HBO's Rome series, which I highly enjoyed. Aside from the fact that I kept seeing the actor Ciarán Hinds in my mind's eye, I was otherwise quite glad I purchased this very well written and appealing book.

I feared a biography that would be either long on adoring prose or tedious names, dates, and places, but I found instead a balanced (if admiring) recounting of his life from early years until his death on the Senate floor. What ama
May 01, 2010 Nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking to learn about Caesar
This book was really easy to read and kept me very engaged the whole time. I would highly recommend this to someone who wants to learn about Caesar and Rome during this period, but don't want to slog through a long, scholarly book.
Roxana-Mălina Chirilă
Freeman seems to have a window into the heads and lives of many people in this book, often knowing who shrugged when and who thought what. Which is alright for a book that isn't trying to be overly academic or exact, but an introduction into Caesar, which this one is.

One thing that annoyed me is that it seemed convoluted in places, and I didn't find the style very engaging. Some details were also baffling - I could only clarify them by asking other, more knowledgeable, people about the subject:
Matt Isenhower
I read this concurrently with Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra. While not as immediately striking as her work, it's a brief and well-researched look at one of the legendary figures of world history. It corrected a misapprehension I had held for a while -- Caesar was not a great general who stepped in and took over politics, but rather a great politician who brought his political skill to the battlefield. I got bogged down in the descriptions of his seemingly endless military campaigns to bring Gaul unde ...more
John Cullan
This book was a delight to read. I enjoy reading history, but the problem in doing so is that most authors do not engage the reader. This book was a welcome exception. There was a great deal that I did not know about Julius Caesar before reading this book. If English teachers would have their students read this book before reading Shakespeare's play, not only would it have helped their understanding but they would have likely read the play instead of referring to their Cliff Notes.

This book was
Pam Doyle
This was a very good book. I had to read it in two pieces as it was quite a heavy read. Once I got back into it, I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed the part where Caesar was fighting in Gaul for 8 years and the political analysis that went with crossing the Rubicon. I didn't realize how politically charged it was.

I felt like the book was ended because we reached the 350 page limit. Ok- kill him. Turn the knife, he is dead. Freeman could have put more information into the plot to kill Caesar. Oth
Ike Pius
This author did his home work.. He was very interested in the life of Julius Caesar.
I dearly love Julius Caesar. Once you look at his life, and who he actually was, getting past popular notions of him, it is hard not to. (As a young man, he was captured and held for ransom by pirates. They came to love him despite his taunting of them that he would see them all crucified. He demanded that they raise his ransom, saying that their initial price was far too low. They did, it came, he was released, and he gathered up a posse, came after them, and crucified them all. You have to adm ...more
He de reconocer que la lectura de su libro La Guerra de las Galias me descubrió a Julio César. La amena biografía que nos presenta Freeman nos da una verdadera dimensión de la talla de este personaje, no sé si como dice Alexander Hamilton, "El mayor hombre que jamás ha existido", pero sin duda uno de los mayores. Impresiona su capacidad de mando, su carisma, incluso sus dotes políticas, a pesar de los muchos fallos cometidos. De orígenes relativamente humildes, se abrió una carrera que bien pudo ...more
Caesar gets a bad rap. Instead, people like Cato and Cicero have received the lion's share of acclaim since Caesar's assassination just over 2000 years ago. Cato, the staunch defender of a Republic run by, and catering to, the narrow interests of a moneyed elite; and Cicero, whose ego petty selfishness overshadows even the cumulative, undeserved praise heaped on his memory. Caesar, in contrast, could see the problems facing the Republic, its inherent flaws that would inevitably lead to its colla ...more
This was a good overview of Julius Caesar's life, but if you are well read on Ancient Roman history and the Roman Civil War, this book won't provide much new information for you. In order to make this book fit into its small page size, the author had to leave out a lot of details in regards to battles and personal conflicts, although he talks about the latter in a bit more detail than the former.

However, the one area where the author delves into detail is in describing the tribes of Gaul and Ger
The very last line of the book is a quote from Alexander Hamilton who "reluctantly" named Julius Caesar as the greatest man who ever lived.

I beg to differ. I will take that other J.C. over Caesar any day. And I will take Abraham Lincoln, too.

That said, Caesar's achievements are impressive indeed-- from a materialist perspective. Spiritually he was nowhere, a bloody pagan, inclined toward animal and even human sacrifice, completely lacking in a reverence for life or a sense of brotherhood with
It’s just possible that Caesar is the most written about person in the genre of biographies – right up there alongside Shakespeare and Lincoln. If it wasn’t for HBO’s sumptuous two season masterpiece Rome, I just may have passed Freeman’s latest entry in an already voluminous number of bios on this arguably first Emperor of Rome (others will attribute this honor to his nephew and heir, Augustus – nee Octavian). But as it was available on the cheap as a remainder while I was at Powell’s in Portla ...more
I put down Adrian Goldsworthy's biography of Caesar to try this one. Goldsworthy's bio is more comprehensive, though drier, and seemed to misunderstand or ignore the significance of some events in Caesar's childhood (his being saddled with the flamen dialis priesthood chief among them). Freeman's bio, despite being breezier, handles some of these details better. Overall, it's a solid bio that provides a good understanding of Caesar and his world. However, it doesn't spend much time reflecting on ...more
The book serves as a basic summary of the events of Caesar's life, but Freeman does little to probe the man himself. I suppose this could serve as a good introduction, and Freeman writes in a readable style. Granted, there is not much material to try and probe into the personality and psychology of Caesar, but I would have preferred the author attempt some inspired guesses. Crucial questions, such as why the senators heaped honors upon him, and why he accepted them, are dealt with in a few parag ...more
Phillip Freeman's Julius Caesar is a highly accessible, fast pasted and fascinating read on the life of the emperor that Alexander Hamilton called the "the greatest man that ever lived."

There is no purple prose or pretentious writing here and the history is brought to life with vivid details and historical background that other authors on the subject have neglected. For example; I've read many books about Rome and have been a bit annoyed that the authors will often give--let's say--great detail
Satwik Govindarajula
After finishing the book, I feel in equal measures, enlightened and confused.
The book in itself seems excellent and truly immersive.
Freeman has done an amazing job at recounting the events through apparent vigorous research.

The only question I am left with at the end, though is about Caesar's motivations towards the end, leading to such a tragic end to his legacy.
If I were to believe everything from the book, casting aside any interpretative anomalies in favour of Freeman's expertise in the
A solid biography of Caesar. If forced to choose, I'd pick Goldsworthy's bio, which I admire greatly, but this book has the merit of brevity. More than that, though, it's tightly written, occasionally amusing, and sometimes insightful. Freeman does a good job of presenting a balanced picture of Caesar, and although it's clear that he likes his subject, Freeman shines the light of day on Caesar's warts -- his vanity, his overweening pride, his manipulative and sometimes violent nature. Indeed, I ...more
Joshua Kaldenbach
Freeman really gets behind all the nuanced layers of the story of Julius Caeser, and he is depicted not so much as a dictator, but rather a man who had compassion towards his fellow man, forgiveness for those who turned on him, and mercy for those who surrendered.

After reading this book, Caesar appears more like a hero of mankind, rather than a villain.
Alexander Hamilton believed that Julius Caesar was the greatest man that ever lived. I have a hard time sharing that opinion after reading this book. Dr. Freeman presents Caesar as a man that inflicted a holocaust upon the lives of millions of Gauls mainly to achieve his own personal wealth and fame. As a military man, Caesar's accomplishments are truly remarkable. Perhaps the question raised is, "what makes a man great".

I knew very little of Caesar's life and had little interest in reading abou
Tyler Windham
Orator, statesmen, writer, playboy, general, dictator for life, Julius Caesar was one of the greatest men ever to live, like a colossus--an indomitable Roman colossus--he bestrode the known world, mighty beyond the reach of any of his enemies and bloodily cut down only by the efforts of men led by one he considered his close friend. Freeman, with a very easy to read, fast-paced, and energetic account paints the incredible drama of the life of Gaius Julius Caesar from his birth to a conspicuous p ...more
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I teach Classics and Celtic studies at Luther College in the beautiful little town of Decorah, Iowa. I did my doctoral work at Harvard and taught at Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis before coming to Luther to help run the Classics department. I love teaching and see my writing as an extension of my work in the classroom. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I enjoyed writi ...more
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“Romans employed crucifixion on a wide scale—though it was always considered poor taste to discuss it in proper society. Crucifixion was strictly a punishment for criminals and slaves, being designed as much for torture and terror as killing. A condemned man would first be flogged to humiliate and weaken him, then forced to pick up a heavy wooden beam called a patibulum. When he had reached the prison yard or an out-of-the-way spot on the edge of town, the prisoner was stripped naked and fastened to the beam with nails and cords. He was then hauled by ropes to the top of a sturdy pole driven deep in the ground. Sometimes there was a small seat for the tortured man to sit on, but even so the prisoner normally suffered in agony for days until finally succumbing to exhaustion and shock. Suetonius writes without irony when he says that Caesar mercifully cut the throats of the pirates before hanging each one on a cross.” 0 likes
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