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Julius Caesar

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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  597 ratings  ·  70 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 1,213)
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Bandit
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.
Mary
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
Nancy
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
...more
Matt
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
Curtis
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
Martin
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
...more
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
...more
Carl
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.
...more
Nicole
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:
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Ike Pius
This author did his home work.. He was very interested in the life of Julius Caesar.
Peregrino
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
Harrison
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
Travis
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
...more
Paul
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
...more
Erik
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
Alex
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
Dave
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
Chad
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
...more
Sean
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
Jim
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
...more
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
Juan Carlos Velasquez
Fascinante, vaya personaje, de los que ya no nacen.
El recorrido por la historia de la antigua Roma es muy ameno, rico en detalles e inevitablemente atiborrado de historias, guerras y personajes que, aunque no pueden compararse con César, se revelan como verdaderos genios de la retórica, y como no, de la demagogia, la estrategia, la guerra y demás elementos del poder.

Para resaltar, la imparcialidad del autor para retratar al emperador romano, destacando su innegable genialidad, especialmente en m
...more
Jared
Apr 30, 2009 Jared rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pete, Andy, Shawn W.
A little more thorough than an "on-the-go" autobiography, this book will add some insight into Caesar that I would bet even the Ancient Rome buffs do not know. I am going to do some research into the merit of the sources of our information on Caesar, as some things seem a bit too fantastic and Herculean. This is by now means a slander to the author, just a nod towards the cusp of the hazy ancient/more clarion middle ages that Caesar was a part of.

Regardless, Caesar was an amazing man that every
...more
Rosemary Willis
Well-written biography of a very talented, ambitious, somewhat immoral by Judeo-Christian ethic man. It presented me with new insights of a celebrated historic figure.
Erik Simon
I thoroughly enjoyed this highly-readable, almost introductory bio on Caesar. I had read Michael Grant's book on Caesar, and while he may the most knowledgable person on ancient Rome, his prose is so dry it leaves you thirsty. This book is superbly written, almost the ideal for popular history, but like everything else written about Rome, it still left me wondering what the big fucking deal is with Cicero. I still hold that he was an eloquent ass wipe, comprable, say, to a Henry Cabot Lodge or O ...more
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142802
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
“Like all Roman roads, the Appian Way (Via Appia) was a marvel of both engineering and propaganda. Construction began on the roads by digging deeply into the soil to lay a foundation of rock, covering this in turn with gravel for drainage, and finally paving with virtually indestructible flagstones over which commerce rolled and armies marched. Unlike the earlier muddy tracks around much of the Mediterranean, Roman roads were meant to endure and rarely yielded to the vagaries of topography. Unless prevented by impassable mountains or impregnable swamps, the Romans built their roads straight as an arrow across the landscape. They were in fact a sermon in stone to the world—Romans do not yield.” 0 likes
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