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Julius Caesar

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  946 Ratings  ·  89 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 946)
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Apr 15, 2016 Kiwi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I approached this book with a bit of apprehension. Last year I loved Alexander the Great by the same author, will this book be able to draw me in and involve me at the same level? I shouldn’t have worried. I was captivated by Caesar’s story as much as I was by Alexander’s.

Caesar is obviously one of the most famous figures of all times, but even if you know your history well and know what’s going to happen, Freeman makes it so fresh. In the pages of this book, you feel the tension in the senate d
Jul 10, 2014 Bandit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it
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
Oct 05, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
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
Aug 03, 2016 judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I had doubts about this book. Julius Caesar, one of history's greats, in under 400 pages?Still, since I actually hadn't read a biography of Caesar, I might as well press on. It starts somewhat typically (read uninteresting) but as time goes by and Caesar begins his career as a soldier, the pace picks up dramatically. Let me put it this way--this book would make a heck of an action movie. Caesar's brilliance in developing new tactics on the spot and doing the unexpected ranks with any big screen ...more
Nov 15, 2011 Martin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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 Ruiz
Oct 03, 2016 David Ruiz rated it it was amazing
A remarkable man that Gaius Julius Caesar was. I never seem to be astonish by the life of Julius Caesar and his greatest accomplishments that led to the demise of the Roman Republic that would later lead to the rise of the Roman Empire. This book talks about his life and his rise to power, how he came to be who he became.
Jan 09, 2014 Matt rated it it was amazing
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
Satwik Govindarajula
Jun 25, 2015 Satwik Govindarajula rated it really liked it
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
May 16, 2010 Curtis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 01, 2010 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Ike Pius
Sep 14, 2013 Ike Pius rated it it was ok
This author did his home work.. He was very interested in the life of Julius Caesar.
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
Dec 10, 2010 Paul rated it liked it
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
Jan 18, 2010 Erik rated it really liked it
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
Oct 16, 2013 Harrison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 24, 2014 Carl rated it liked it
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.
Nov 21, 2009 Peregrino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
Jun 18, 2008 Travis rated it liked it
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
Mar 02, 2015 Zachary rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2010 Dave rated it it was ok
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
Apr 18, 2010 Alex rated it liked it
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
Jun 20, 2009 Chad rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 01, 2013 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient, biography
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
Tyler Windham
Dec 12, 2014 Tyler Windham rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
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
Jan 18, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
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
Matt Isenhower
Feb 07, 2014 Matt Isenhower rated it liked it
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
Vidi R
Apr 08, 2016 Vidi R rated it it was amazing
I lay my hands upon this book to peek deeper into the motives behind Julius Caesar's actions and to hopefully capture the essence of his character. Albeit still haunted with curiosity regarding the Roman empire, this book provided many details regarding the history of Roman and JC that were previously unknown to me.

Regarding the delivery, Philip Freeman clearly did a fantastic job on narrating the epic journey of one of the greatest men on history by the name of Julius Caesar. For a suffecient
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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.” 1 likes
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