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The First Century: Emperors, Gods and Everyman
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The First Century: Emperors, Gods and Everyman

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  76 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
An engrossing popular history of the major events and people at the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire, and the Han Dynasty.
Hardcover, 420 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Castle Books (first published 1990)
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Dec 12, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Extremely well-written, engaging account of the global (Eurasian) system of the first century CE through the eyes/experience of the chief powerbrokers of the era, mainly those in Rome, Judea, Parthia, China. From their perspectives, the continental mechanisms of exchange that were emerging offered considerable reward even as they required considerable regulation and supervision. The biographic approach allows the author to cast light on the cultural underpinnings as well as the political and mil ...more
Plugged as "Emperors, Gods and Everyman", this book has a distinct lack of "everyman". While this is a decent popular history book with an interesting slant (it runs parallel chapters on the Roman Empire, Early Christianity and the Han Dynasty -mostly - through the First Century), but it is 60% politital/military, 30% religious, and 10% social history. As a result, the common man gets short shrift.
C. Rufinus
It is difficult for me to rate this, for at first I enjoyed it - especially the style of alternating between China and Rome, giving a much more complete picture of the 1st century than most Euro-centric history books do - but by the end I found it extremely tedious, rather dull, spurned on too much by the author's pop psychologizing and inability to make his long-dead cast of characters come alive. While it seemed over the first three decades that relatively equal treatment was being given to bo ...more
Berry Muhl
Jun 09, 2016 Berry Muhl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand Western civilization (although it ends several centuries before such a picture could possibly be completed).

I like Klingaman's writing, which is reasonably urbane and witty, although there are odd errors from time to time that should have been caught in editing (such as mention of the proto-Vietnamese annual tribute to the Chinese empire, which consisted of "ivory, spices, rhinoceros horn, tortoise shell, and spices"). He divides his time betwe
Sandra D
I picked this up at a library book sale and, when it finally shuffled to the top of my to-read pile, I cringed because I haven't had much luck trying to read ancient history. It doesn't seem to be my cup of tea.

It was a pleasant surprise then to find in this book such an engaging study of a tumultuous period of the Roman Empire, from the reign of Augustus through the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the siege at Masada.

My only quibble is that the Chinese chapters didn't seem to belong
Shawn Thrasher
This felt like Klingaman wrote three books - one on Rome, one on Judea, and another on China - dismantled them, and then reassembled them as one book, but without any transition. At least Judea and Rome have a clear cut connection; I wasn't exactly sure what the connection between Rome and China was save for the fact that they both existed in the first century. Parts of this book were actually very interesting, but overall, this felt like a disjointed mess.
Oct 20, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who love history
Clever overview of China, Jerusalem and the Roman Empire during the first century CE, with the weight of the book focused on the Roman Empire. Entertaining and informative.
Timber rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2011
Jennifer Lester
Oct 04, 2014 Jennifer Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard to put down...well researched as well.
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