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Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,199 ratings  ·  129 reviews
This is the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Simon Baker charts the rise and fall of the world's first superpower, focusing on six momentous turning points that shaped Roman history. Welcome to Rome as you've never seen it before - awesome and splendid, gritty and squalid.

At the heart of this gripping popular history are the dynamic, complex but flawe
Paperback, 447 pages
Published June 7th 2007 by BBC Books (first published October 24th 2006)
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,199 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Esteban del Mal
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you, like me, don't know much about the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire it spawned, or the impact of Roman culture on the subsequent millennia beyond what you saw on television when men in golden breastplates flogged and stapled history's most successful anarchist to a cross of wood between Paul and Jan Crouch's sobs and pleas for money, you could do worse than read this book. Though largely artless, it is not naively so and proves as unrelenting as any anonymous, sweaty, bloodthirsty beefca ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Simon Baker's Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire is a good introduction to Roman history, covering various key points in the history of Rome. Probably not the same key points that someone else would choose, but he makes a decent case for the importance of each stop on the tour. Some people's reviews say that if you have the most basic grasp of Roman history, this is too simple: I wouldn't say so. I have a GCSE and an A Level in classical studies, but the effect was a very similar kind ...more
Omar Masood
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Given the length of the Roman Empire (and as advertised this book covers the origins of the empire from a small city-state), its breadth, its complexity, and its historical importance it is impossible to go in depth in a book of this length. Roman specialists should find a lengthier, more detailed book but for those who are new to Rome (like me), or seeking to acquire just a general understanding of one of the most important--and arguably the most important--civilization in world history this bo ...more
Mike Parka
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Mary Beard's S.P.Q.R., which was focused more on dispelling some of the myths surrounding Rome's history and shedding light upon the lives of ordinary people, I wanted to learn a bit more about the big, legendary characters and the huge events that shaped the ancient world. This book delivered big time.

Initially, I wasn't sure if the format will work for me. Each chapter is focusing on the life of one historical character and they picked a few most important ones from Rome's histor
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I had an interest in learning about the general history of the Roman Empire, and I didn't want to read a textbook either. This book was definitely the answer becuase it read like a novel and made reading a history book entertaining. The drama of Roman war and politics was brought to life throughout. I definitely learned quite a bit about the Roman Empire and didn't feel bored while reading the book. Good read.
Pierre Verwey
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book gives a condensed overview of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire in one sweep, using six key moments to tell the epic story of one of the greatest Empires the world has ever seen.

Considering this history spans over 700 eventful years, one needs to accept from the onset that even the best account of its history will, in some way or another, fall short to fully tell its sensational history. Though there must be countless books dealing with particular aspects of Rome's history, Id say
Hao Nguyen
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
In the book Ancient Rome by Simon Baker, there are many different stories of many leaders of Rome. The book tells us of how the Roman Empire came to be and what happened to it. The book is made up of great tales about the leaders of Rome. It shows how some leaders led their empire to power and how some failed to do so. The book also shows how the Roman Empire fell from its great power.
I liked how the book told brief stories about every leader and their life times. It got me interested on how th
Wren Wadlington
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Simon Baker describes Ancient Rome by providing accounts of some of Rome’s most important leaders. The book starts with the birth of Rome, and describes the story of Aeneas and his journey to found it. It then describes the first Roman revolutions and the assault on Carthage. Then, the story of Caesar, made famous by Shakespeare’s play, is told in great detail. The book then goes on to describe the stories of Augustus and Nero in a level of detail most would find in a history textbook.
My favori
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. Very engrossing storytelling about some of the key figures of the Roman empire. Some of the politics gets very complex, with lots of different twists and turns in the plot, but these are effortlessly negotiated. Would definitely recommend to someone who is new to Roman history for a fascinating introduction to the subject.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended history book. It reads like a drama, highlighting the most important events and rulers of ancient Rome. Rome wasn't built in a day and it didn't fall in one either. There are lessons to be learned from the mistakes of the Romans.
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
The book accompanies a BBC TV series with the same name, focussing on six major events in Roman history:

+ The revolution triggered by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, around 130BC, as the tribune of the people, starting the processes which led to power shifting away from the nobility to the people.

+ The civil war fought by Pompey and Caesar, resulting in the unification of the empire under one man.

+ The last Julio-Claudian emperor and paranoid Nero, being more interested in the (Greek) arts than
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Never thought by focusing on a handful key persons in the history of Ancient Rome one could actually get a better picture of the empire than any other accounts.
Mike Templet
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I have never found a history book that had me so wrapped up in a story that stay up late to see what happens next. While Baker admits he can't prove everything he is saying undeniably true it is his search for motive in these long deceased figures that makes the read intriguing. What he does offer is facts, dates, and widely recorded historical events all tied together. I have gone back and read it several times over now and live it.
Kevin Keating
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part of the rating I give for this book is for the companion movie series. The history seems good and compelling, but the movie is even better - well-acted and impressive. Kids in school really like the movie. The book follows it almost exactly. Picks 6 or so periods in Roman history and details them. Only thing missing is an overview or timeline, but that's ok.
Larry Armstrong
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found this book informative and thoughtful, a great help for me in understanding the events and people throughout Roman history. It was a good basic introduction to the history. I especially liked Baker's handling of Augustus. The concentration on major figures in the history gave me more "pegs" to hang Roman culture and life on.
Melinda Flaugher
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
The book gives a brief overview of the Roman Empire. I never studied about Rome so it was a great first read regarding the roman history. Also liked seeing the parallels of the Roman history compared to present day America.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Found this book to be a helpful introduction to Roman history. Not a great deal of depth into some of the more complex issues, but does a great job of giving the reader a direction to go for future reads.
Jose Pizano
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cody Adams
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The “plot” of Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire is the history of the Roman Empire from its founding to its fall. The book starts with the origins of Rome and the myth of the brothers Romulus and Remus. The short version of the myth was that the brothers fought and Romulus killed Remus and named Rome after himself. The book then goes over the formation and fall of the Republic of Rome, then the lives of the various Roman emperors. The book is quite simple in its “plot” since it is his ...more
C.H. Cobb
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I'd known bits and pieces of the history of the Roman Empire, but this book gave me a much fuller picture. If the Pax Romana quelled wars in the greater Mediterranean region, the Romans themselves enjoyed very little of it. There was such a struggle for power between the emperors, the wannabes, the generals, that the internal history of Rome seems to be a history of assassination, rebellion, and revolution.

Baker demonstrated that one of the chief causes of turbulence--something that
Dylan Nguyen
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well rounded summary of the beginnings of the Roman empire to its demise 507 years later. I really liked how the power struggles between Caeser and Pompey, Octavian and Antony, and Constantine and Licinius were explained in great detail, and also how the life of that maniac named Nero was portrayed. However there was little in the way of culture and daily Roman life in this book, and other than covering some of Cicero's content and some Senate plebeian vs patrician drama, nothing about Roman l ...more
Rick Gross
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For too long I put off learning about the Roman empire believing it was too large a task. Too many of the books concerning it were simply overwhelming. Finally, I decided to read Simon Baker‘s book. I cannot recommend it enough. It is wonderfully written. He provided me with just enough information enabling me to obtain a general grasp on what led to the rise and fall of Rome. While reading this book I found it very difficult to put it down. In many respects it reads like a fine novel with too m ...more
Otto Cornejo
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't realize until I started reading this book that it was tied to a BBC docudrama series. I did not see the series but this book is a good place to start if you want to get a taste of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. The tale is told by capturing and retelling certain events during the Republic and during the Empire, specifically focusing on certain leaders and their impact. It bridges the gaps with a short history helping to understand the whole.

I cannot compare this book to scholarl
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book does not cover the full history of the Roman empire. I guess its not possible to compile it into one single volume. Rather it takes siz important events/figures from the Roman history and presents them in lucid readable way. For anyone interested in Roman history this book will serve as a good entry point. Though some events have been left out which I felt should have been a part, but overall the book serves its purpose.
Kim Markland
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a very good summary of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It was just what I needed as I research the history of the city of Rome for a trip there this summer. I don’t have time for an in-depth study since there are so many other times periods about which I want to educate myself. This book is very well written.
Louisa Watson
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book interweaves the story of Ancient Rome's rise and fall with detailed accounts of six turning-points in the empire's history (the murder of Gracchus, the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, the despotic reign of Nero, the Jewish revolt, Emperor Constantine's championing of Christianity, and the sack of Rome by Alaric in 410). It packs in a lot of information, including not only descriptions of significant events but also many fascinating details that bring the period to life.
Justin Crispin
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Concise and powerful

I have done my fair share of research into the Roman Empire And Baker does a masterful work in providing a concise work yet effective in not leaving out critical events. Highly recommend this work.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is no way that you are going to get a full history of the Roman Empire in 400+ pages but this is a very good introduction that hits on six points in time that were important to said empire. I highly recommend it.
Christopher Harmon
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great crash course on ancient Rome. Gets a little confusing after Constantine. So many names and plot lines intersecting. I could probably stand to read the last few chapters over again. But I'm definitely 10x more educated on Roman history than I was before reading this.
John Nichol
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-rome, history
Relying on the hook of building 600 years of history on just 6 short periods, this book necessarily misses out huge chunks of what made and broke Rome. Nonetheless, it gives the reader a well-rounded insight into the Republic/Empire that makes you want to learn and explore further.
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