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On the Spartacus Road: A Spectacular Journey Through Ancient Italy
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On the Spartacus Road: A Spectacular Journey Through Ancient Italy

3.2  ·  Rating Details ·  64 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Former editor of The Times, Sir Peter Stothard, retraces the journey taken by Spartacus and his army of rebels in the final century of the first Roman Republic.
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Harper Press
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(showing 1-30 of 176)
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Wayne
Jan 10, 2012 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Ancient Roman History
Recommended to Wayne by: a review by Christopher Hart in the Literary Review.
ON FIRST OPENING STOTHARD'S SPARTACUS ROAD:

Began this this morning at 7.30AM.

This promises to be a meandering hodge--podge of interesting and original strands knitted together to make an absorbing tapestry.
(Says He-The-Willing-Victim with Utter Trust.)

So far it paints the Early Christians as an immoral, brutal and quarrelsome Mob; Spartacus' name as a term of disdain and abuse;
and Rome in an inglorious, deviant and rotten decline.
So ALL one was taught to believe in is turned upside down and quit
...more
Stewart
Spartacus, the leader of a slave revolt against Rome in 73-71 B.C., has held a fascination for me and many others during the past two millenniums. The past two centuries, Spartacus has been a favorite to many on the right and left. Karl Marx listed him as a hero.
One of my favorite movies is the 1960 "Spartacus" with Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons, and Laurence Olivier, directed by Stanley Kubrick. And one of my favorite pieces of music is the three suites of music drawn from Aram Khachaturian’s 19
...more
Alec
Feb 04, 2012 Alec rated it it was ok
File this under "British Journalists who are let off the chain and lose all sense of editorial discretion". This was a fine book. I'm not angry I read it. But I also don't feel like I gained anything by reading it, and the whole thing felt mainly like an excuse for Strothard to conjure flowery prose at the expense of narrative...anything. I understand that part of the point was to evoke how little we actually know about Spartacus and his endeavors, but that could have been accomplished in about ...more
Norman
Aug 26, 2012 Norman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A funny one, this book. Sounded right up my street - a bit of military history, a bit of travel, the author - a man overcoming personal adversity - but it just didn't work. A beautifully bound hardback copy too - but then again I picked it up new for a quid in a remaindered book store near King's Cross so maybe it didn't work for others too.
Glen
May 09, 2015 Glen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did read it and I think that Stothard knows his subject ... But unfortunately that is the the books downfall ... In relation to Spartacus it almost seems his way of telling us that little is known of the man himself, and even the slave revolt, that he finds it necessary to delve into an array of other facts, history, characters, which are only related in the sense that they were relevant to the time.

Someone with little prior knowledge of the subject, will I feel rapidly lose their way in this
...more
Simon
An interesting idea, to follow in the footsteps of Spartacus and the revolting slaves, is given an extra fillip by Stothard's knowledge of classical Latin sources. I read it before going off for a holiday in southern Italy. It becomes much more than a travelogue,however. he speaks to plenty of present-day residents as he makes his journey south from Capua, ending up with the mass crucifixions on the road to Rome. His ability to bring these authors to life, indicating the particular track record ...more
Leonardo Etcheto
Nov 12, 2013 Leonardo Etcheto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well done. The book has a great personal and historical tone. It is obvious that the ancient writers and thoughts that Stothard discusses are highly significant for him. The idea of actually traveling the path taken by Spartacus literally and in the written record works very well as the structure of the book. The focus works very well, it is so easy to go big picture when talking about the Romans, and then it all gets muddled. Here Stothard speaks of one of the stranger wars and the vagarie ...more
Paul King
Jan 12, 2012 Paul King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As other users have stated, this book is not pure history but detours through Italy as it is today, anecdotes and ancient philosophy. It even mentions the author's fight with cancer, although even then you would hardly call it a memoir.

Stothard explains that we don't know much about Spartacus. Even the few accounts from Roman writers are fragmentary or possibly unreliable. But if you read this book you will learn a lot more about other parts of Roman history, gladiators and country life.

This b
...more
David
Sep 04, 2012 David rated it liked it
Shelves: historical


This is definitely a classicist's book. Having said that, I found it a very frustrating read. I found the first 50 pages plus slightly 'bumptious ' especially in its references to scholars like Fraenkel and Toynbee. I also found the choice of illustrations and impenetrable maps incomprehensible. Still, I would lie if I did not say I was hooked. It was a very good read. I would have preferred a bit more clarity on the Spartacus side of events but, perhaps, as Mr Stothard points out, there is a d
...more
Jenny Brown
Mar 19, 2011 Jenny Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and thought it was a brilliant piece of writing. You probably need to have some background in the classics and Roman history to begin to understand how good it is. It isn't so much about Spartacus and his rebellion as it is about how Romans and Greeks wrote about history. But because of how creative this book is, any attempt to summarize it doesn't do it justice.

A must read for anyone who finds Classical Roman history and culture fascinating.
Lisa Houlihan
May 07, 2013 Lisa Houlihan marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Running low on (paper) reading material, I selected this from the English-language section of a bookstore in Rome. Stothard is or was a journalist who presumably wrote for a living, but you'd never know from this. Uncertain in its structure, needlessly roundabout in its syntax, rambling in narrative, this book annoyed me so much I read Economist and Outside magazines instead of this book on a plane and left it, 2/3 unread, in an airport.
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
Travelogue following the path across southern Italy, with diversions to discuss Plutarch's Crassus and Nicias, Arthur Koestler gladiator novels, Horace's old age, Romany souvenir vendors, Kirk Douglas, Epicurian views on death and the seemingly all-Albanian costumed-for-tourists gladiator mafia.
John Cain
Some parts are interesting. Some of the details of life in a state based on slave labor are new to me, but over all the style is self absorbed. He seems more interested in giving us flashes of facts to show how smart he is rather than a narrative that leads to anywhere worth going to.
Colin
A very odd sort of book, part memoir, part travelogue, part history, part social commentary - very hard to define indeed! But a well-written one, following journalist Peter Stothard's journeys retracing the steps of the Spartacus rebels of the 70s B.C. I liked it!
Diana
Aug 08, 2011 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. The mixture of so many classical stories, histories and the present day was at times hard to follow but really interesting. Made me want to read and study the classics and make some sense of the thousand years or so of Roman power.
Ehud Ur
Fascinating concept, but poorly (dare I say sloppily) executed. This book could use a good editor, which is ironic, since that is exactly what Sir Peter does for his day job. Impenetrable maps and obscure photos do not help with the confusion
Laura
Mar 24, 2013 Laura added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Amazon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ck
Jan 16, 2015 Ck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More philosophical and psychology than expected, but interesting and informative. Considers the place of death in the human psyche and in the metaphysical quest for Truth.
Joseph Reynolds
Eh. Very slow moving. Very. Slow. Occasionally interesting, though.
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