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Augustus

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,929 ratings  ·  252 reviews
A brilliant and beautifully written novel in the tradition of Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, Augustus is a sweeping narrative that brings vividly to life a compelling cast of historical figures through their letters, dispatches, and memoirs.

A mere eighteen years of age when his uncle, Julius Caesar, is murdered, Octavius Caesar prematurely inherits rule of the Roman Republic
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Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published (first published 1972)
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John The different narrators make this book what it is. You hear the story of this young man through their viewpoints, prejudices, and anglings. Confusing…moreThe different narrators make this book what it is. You hear the story of this young man through their viewpoints, prejudices, and anglings. Confusing at first, the letters written by different people transcend how remarkable a person was the boy called Octavius.(less)
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Rod
I've never been particularly interested in political novels or had any great fascination with ancient Rome, but this beautifully written novel held me transfixed nonetheless. It's a cliché to say it "brings history alive," but it does indeed bring history alive. Told in epistolary form as a compendium of letters and journal entries by characters both integral and incidental, we get to know Octavius Caesar the August from the perspective of those who love him and of those who despise him, but we ...more
Brian

Good historical fiction is some of the best fiction - this book didn't disappoint. Fans of Williams' Stoner and Butcher's Crossing will find plenty to love; the author's recognizable compact writing style and rich imagery are on display throughout this book.

A reader isn't required to have a vast knowledge of Roman history between 50 BC and 50 AD, but it certainly helps. Reading this book shortly after finishing Appian's Civil Wars was the right decision for me. Williams' particular talent allows
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Szplug
I decided upon giving Williams' epistolary fiction a four-star rating, because the elegant writing—which adheres to the classical form that it emulates to an impressive degree—is a pleasure to behold, and does an admirable job of situating a handful of important personages—mostly friends, family, or rivals of the titular empire founder—within the confines of the principal themes that the author wished to explore: the alienating and intoxicating aspects of power, whether in the arena of the polit ...more
Ginny_1807
Passione e poesia
​Meraviglioso struggente ritratto di Augusto, l'imperatore e l'uomo.
Insolita la tecnica narrativa, ovvero una sorta di collazione delle fonti scritte, in questo caso interamente rimaneggiate o inventate: lettere, documenti, pagine di diario, che, oltre a scandire le varie tappe della carriera politica e della vita privata di Ottaviano, calano il lettore nel clima politico e culturale dell'epoca, dall'uccisione di Giulio Cesare nel 44 a.C. fino al 14 d.C., anno della morte di Au
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Greg Brown
John Williams only wrote three books once he became a mature writer—his first he disowned—and they're all excellent. Unfortunately, this book is the last of the three I've read. There's a peculiar sadness when you finish the last book by one of your favorite deceased authors, the usual morose feeling of leaving a world only compounded by the knowledge you'll never again hear that voice for the first time. Kind of a bummer.

The first surprise of this book was John Williams ratcheting up the diffic
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S©aP
Mi sono avvicinato a questo libro con sentimenti contrastanti: la fiducia nel consiglio di un'amica colta e sensibile; la leggera, ma insopprimibile, diffidenza verso gli scrittori del "Nuovo Mondo" che si cimentino con una Storia che non scorre nel loro DNA. Ebbene: la fiducia era ben riposta; il pre-giudizio poggiava su un assunto impreciso. Augustus è un bellissimo libro.
Williams scrive bene, questa la prima annotazione: la sua scrittura invita, persuade. E da lì si parte sempre, o almeno io
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Arwen56
Oct 26, 2014 Arwen56 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arwen56 by: S©aP
Shelves: romanzi
Un libro pregevole, sebbene non all’altezza di Stoner, per quel che mi riguarda.

Qualcuno ha osservato che Augustus “non è abbastanza romanzo e non è neppure abbastanza vera storia” e, forse, non ha tutti i torti. Anzi, togliamo pure il “forse”. Probabilmente è proprio questo fatto che me l’ha fatto apprezzare un po’ meno rispetto al primo. Oltre che una maggior “freddezza” espressiva, sia pur necessaria alla materia trattata e alla modalità letteraria scelta per elaborarla, ossia quella epistol
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Sini
Zoals bekend is de totaal vergeten John Williams sinds een paar jaar geleden weer helemaal 'hot' vanwege "Stoner", een boek dat ikzelf ook heel erg heb bejubeld. Een tijdje later kwam "Butcher's Crossing" opnieuw uit, een boek dat ik zelf duidelijk minder vond dan "Stoner", maar toch heel goed. Toen "Augustus" onlangs in nieuwe vertaling uitkwam was ik dus wel heel benieuwd: het is het enige boek van Williams dat ooit een vette prijs won (de prestigieuze National Book Award), maar zou ik het zel ...more
Lia
I was lucky that my library carries this out-of print book. Unfortunately, reading with the group were a lonely experienced since only a few people were able to get their hands on this rare gem.

Now, on to the review.
The first thing that hit me when I received the book was, how terrible looking the cover is. It was the one with the aged bronze statue of Augustus. It was so off putting that I had to cover the book with brown paper to finally able to start my reading (and people said don't judge th
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Alicja
rating: 4/5

I loved this novel! Beautifully written it sheds a light onto a time period that I know little about. The author has taken some liberties with the timeline and texts and states so in his discussion of the novel. Using historical documents and writings, including parts of the letters and documents translated and paraphrased from actual writings, and filling in where he needed to with his imagination, the author creates a breathtaking story. It is truly a work of historical fiction.

Spli
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orsodimondo
I BARBARI ASPETTANO
Dalle note d'autore: Alcuni errori di fatto, in questo libro, sono voluti. Ho modificato l’ordine di numerosi avvenimenti. Ho inventato là dove i dati storici sono incerti o incompleti. E ho creato alcuni personaggi cui la Storia non fa cenno… Tranne poche eccezioni, i documenti che formano questo romanzo sono inventati… Ma se in questo lavoro sono presenti delle verità, sono le verità della narrativa più che della Storia. Sarò grato a quei lettori che lo accoglieranno per que
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Mira
Забележителна книга, в която история, философия и поезия се срещат в образите на познати исторически личности, философи и историци и на великите римски поети, в единозвучие с времето се конфронтират и съюзяват, за да пресъздадат величието и нещастието на една епоха - апогея на Римската империя (44г. пр.Хр. – 14 г. сл. Хр.).

Роман, написан в епистоларна форма, която придава автентичност на съчетанието от исторически факти и художествена интерпретация, с вече разпознаваемия почерк на Джон Уилямс, п
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Ryan
John Williams wrote a supreme novel in Augustus, his fourth and last. It's a historical drama set in the ancient republic of Rome and revolves around the eponymous emperor. The style is epistolary, with letters, memoirs, and memoranda exchanging hands among a fairly large cast of characters deserving of an ensemble acting award, or rather distinct voices award, for moving along the strands of plot toward a visionary conclusion. Williams's cohesive vision of power and consequential human destiny ...more
Emily
Mike Duncan makes Octavian sound like a spoiled little asshat with a cruel streak, but he was ultimately successful in creating a stable bureaucracy (and outliving most of his descendants, despite his constant illnesses). I could get into what makes the Princeps tick. Although this cover is pretty creepy ...

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I wonder, if he saw me, would he recognize what he has become? Would he recognize the caricature that all men become of themselves? I do not believe that he would.


This is a gorgeous
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Bart Thanhauser
The book, as the title suggests, covers the life of Augustus. His rise to power as a late teenager, his consolidation of power, and his five plus decades as Emperor of Rome. Ancient Rome is not lacking in intrigue. There’s plenty of sex, murder, conspiracies, rumors, and plots for power. Although the book is a work of fiction, it is historical fiction that takes largely from history. As a result, I took a few lengthy wikipedia travels during the reading. Bouncing around reading the biographies o ...more
Jason Golomb
“Augustus”, by John Williams, I can quite contentedly report, is equally as robust as Robert Graves’ “I, Claudius”, while being readable, true to history (or as close as one can come with a thorough, but not quite complete, historical record), and remaining undeniably literary. This is most definitely a character-driven novel and, at under 300 pages, tautly evokes the lives, politics, regrets, loves and emotions of the Roman Empire’s elite.

Somehow John William’s “Augustus” flew under the radar
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Христо Блажев
Император е повече от баща: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/a...

Странно преживяване е автор да те отведе от едната в другата крайност – от романа за негероя “Стоунър”: скромният, тих, незабележим човечец, който минава безметежно през живота си по линията на най-малкото съпротивление; към един от най-могъщите владетели в човешката история: Октавиан Август, поел властта след убийството на Цезар, укрепил империята, разгромил знакови врагове като Марк Антоний и Секст Помпей… Джон Уилямс изгражда
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Justin
Unlike the other two Great Novels set during Rome's imperial period (Robert Graves' I, Claudius and Gore Vidal's Julian), John Williams' Augustus eschews the inherent dramatic absurdity of the pitiful underdog, as well as the wistful nostalgia of brilliance cut down in its prime. No, Williams is up to something else here: examining the consequences of a lifetime of nearly uninterrupted triumph--"Twice I triumphed with an ovation, and three times I enjoyed a curule triumph and twenty-one times I ...more
John
“For Octavius Caesar is Rome; and that, perhaps, is the tragedy of his life.”

John Edwards Williams’s “Augustus” is the best work of historical fiction I have read in a long time. Comprised of a series of letters and notes, Augustus is at first hard to follow but the careful reader is able to understand the names of the characters and the pace of things by the first few chapters. Augustus is framed like a Roman arch and its keystone, Book III, holds the arch together and comes at the end. For thi
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Keith
I didn't particularly like the fomat of this book. The entire novel was a series of letters, journal entries, memoirs and petitions back and forth between numerous Roman characters. It made it hard for me to follow.

For example; one letter was from "Gauis Cilinus Macenas to Titus Livius (12 B.C.)" also a "Petition: the Centurion Quintus Appius to Munatius Plancus, Commander of the Asian Legions of the Imperator Marcus Antonius, from Ephesus (32 B.C.)" It also didn't follow chronologically so I h
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Rose Gowen
My continuing failure to say anything about John Williams is stressing me out.

I read the three novels he did not disown (there was an earlier one, I think, that he didn't like to talk about), and I--

see this is where I keep getting stuck: I can't decide what verb to use-- I didn't love them. I was impressed by them. I did enjoy them. I feel some reservation or hesitation about them which I can't identify.

My experience with all three (Butcher's Crossing, Stoner, and Augustus) followed the same c
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Golan Schzukin
Excellent.
The more I read about Rome the more I want.
So many good books about this period, which is interesting, intriguing, fascinating and adventures and filled with so many good stories.
the politics and challenges 2000 years ago, are so actual to what we are facing today.
This book is built beautifully, and is told by a collection of letters, which gives it authenticity as well as multiple points of view.

Highly recommended.
Bookmaniac70
Джон Уилямс е написал само три значими книги, но какви! Сюжетът на "Август" е много различен от "Стоунър", но ги свързва общата нишка- основната тема на писателя - съхраняването на съкровената човешка същност, неизмеримата стойност на моралния избор.


Ревю в "Аз чета"
Maxim Van Eeckhout
Grotendeels historisch, merendeels fictief.

De auteur, John Williams, die vermaard is geworden met 'Stoner' doch bekroond is geweest voor 'Augustus', heeft zich in 'Augustus' de vrijheid voorgenomen de lezer kennis te laten maken met een Rome die naar zijn beeld geschapen is. Aan de hand van een compendium brieven van dichte vrienden en nog dichtere vijanden voert de auteur ons Gaius Octavius op als een nuchtere jongeman wiens fysieke verschijning het best te vergelijken valt met dat van een tan
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Terry Calafato
"Roma non è eterna: non importa. Roma cadrà: non importa. Ci sarà stato un momento di Roma, e non morirà del tutto. Il barbaro diverrà la Roma che ha conquistato, il nostro latino gli scioglierà la lingua rozza, la visione di quanto avrà distrutto gli scorrerà nel sangue. E, nel tempo che è incessante come so, il costo non è nulla, è meno di nulla."

Quando ho preso questo libro, non mi ero neanche resa conto si trattasse dell'autore di Stoner. L'ho comprato presa dal desiderio di leggere qualcos
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Caroline
Augustus is a complex portrait of Octavius Caesar built up through sixty years of letters, journals, government documents and fragments of memoir that John Williams created, but that are based on historical fact. They include the journal of his daughter in exile, letters from his friend Gaius Maecenas to the historian Livy, letters from a Jewish scholar in his palace to a friend back in Damascus, and bits of the autobiography of his friend and the great soldier Marcus Agrippa. It is a very fine ...more
Chuck Lowry
This book took me back years, indeed decades, to when the study of Roman literature and history were my primary pursuits. It just really flowed and told a very interesting story in a fascinating way. I suspect that most casual readers think that Augustus Caesar was a poor imitation of his predecessor, Julius Caesar. This book will cure you of that.

At certain points the moralizing in the book, or I should perhaps say the deep thinking, seems a little too much. In a novel, it is always better to l
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Joseph Nicolello
Who else could have wanted to read this?!?!?!? My God, this is the first time in years that I have been rejected renewal! Mere days! To the reading chair! Quick!
Laysee
“Augustus” by John Williams is a remarkable book on all counts. It has that perfect blend of beautiful prose and a retelling of history through the crucible of the literary imagination. “Augustus” is a supremely engaging novel characterized by a gripping plot, a rich cast of believable characters (neither villains nor saints), a deep unraveling of the impulses that drive humanity, and above all, some substance of import on which to reflect on the meaning of existence. Published in 1972, “Augustu ...more
Leanne (Booksandbabble)
Julius Caesar has been murdered in the senate, turmoil erupts throughout Rome. Everyone is protecting their own agenda whilst claiming a desire to restore Rome to a republic. All may not go according to plan for the murderous senators, as a little upstart by the name of Gaius Octavius, has been named Caesars heir and adopted son, and now seeks revenge for the murder of his newly appointed father.
Octavious struggles to claim power, with Caesars close friend,Mark Antony, making sure it is not a v
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NYRB Classics: Augustus, by John Williams 7 45 Aug 22, 2014 01:42PM  
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John Edward Williams was born on August 29, 1922, in Clarksville, Texas, near the Red River east of Paris, Texas and brought up in Texas. His grandparents were farmers; his stepfather was a janitor in a post office. After flunking out of junior college and holding various positions with newspapers and radio stations in the Southwest, Williams enlisted in the USAAF early in 1942, spending two and a ...more
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“It seems to me that the moralist is the most useless and contemptible of creatures. He is useless in that he would expend his energies upon making judgments rather than upon gaining knowledge, for the reason that judgment is easy and knowledge is difficult. He is contemptible in that his judgments reflect a vision of himself which in his ignorance and pride he would impose upon the world. I implore you, do not become a moralist; you will destroy your art and your mind.” 13 likes
“One does not deceive oneself about the consequences of one's acts; one deceives oneself about the ease with which one can live with those consequences.” 13 likes
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