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Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  1,843 Ratings  ·  110 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 April 28th 2008 by BBC Books (first published October 24th 2006)
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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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jose Pizano
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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.
David James
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
More of an overview than a comprehensive history, which is not an easy thing to do given the sheer magnitude of Roman happenings, but the author accomplishes that task well.
Kevin  Smith
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The best primer on Rome and very readable...which is not very common for true histories like this. Bravo! It was a page Turner!
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quick look at nine key people/events in Roman history; Stories in each chapter were compelling; Good amount of detail without being overwhelming
Drew Fishman
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
An all around decent book. Felt a bit cursory at times. I felt it was a bit overly ambitious to try and cover such a wide period of Rome in such a short book.
Michael Bissett
Oct 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Skjip It

Boeing. Just never got anywhere. I still can't figure out the intent of the author. Got about 50 pages in and couldn't take anymore.
Jen Cameron
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A decent overall history of Ancient Rome. What would have been a big benefit are visuals like timelines, family trees, etc. I found some of the transitions very frustrating. But other than that, a good book.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An amazing piece of work on part of the author. The breadth of the subject covered within a short span of 420 pages is nothing short of spectacular. The book reads like a fiction novel. At many places it reminded me of the Game of Throne series of books and I am quite sure much of that series is inspired by Rome's true events.

What has survived rome to this day is truly remarkable - the Formula One car race tracks (now cars instead of chariots) are inspired from Rome, as are the Baseball and foo
Palindrome Mordnilap
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-books
The ambition of this book is enormous: a full narrative history of ancient Rome, charting its early origins, through to the Republic and then on into the age of the Emperors and the final fall of Rome itself. It is an ambition which is realised to a certain extent, but with a focus that I found - at times - to be somewhat frustrating. Set-piece battles and war take up a large number of pages, while life in the Empire and the technological innovations of the ancient Romans barely get a mention. F ...more
Citlally Chavez
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book basically sums up Ancient Rome history. The plot begins with the story of how Ancient Rome began. This leads to talking about the important figures that changed Rome history like Julius Caesar. This book explains in great detail battles and turning points that took place that caused positive and negative effects like the three punic wars. It mentions how once Ancient Rome use to fight for justified reasons which turned to greed.
My favorite character was Publius Cornelius Scipio becau
Mohammed Galal
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didnt like the fact that the author could not distinguish the personal lives of the emperors of the public ones.I know that they are interrelated and definitely have an impact on each other.But I dont care about the personal life of the leaders or empire-makers,what I m concerned about is their contributions (or at times the atrocities they made)during their reign.It seems that the Roman citizens are vigilant as far as the private details of the emperors are concerned.They can never turn a bli ...more
Aug 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I chose this because it purported to cover the whole sweep of Roman history from Romulus to the sack of the city by Alaric but I ended up wishing I had plunged myself into something less chatty and less straightforward - as an accompaniment to a TV series, the author bases the narrative around six main turning points and key figures such as Caligula, Marcus Aurelius and Commodus earn scarcely a passing mention.

I can understand that talk of 'hawkish' senators and Goth 'asylum seekers' might bring
Ongun Durhan
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. Informative, pacy, and never exuberantly showy and over-indulgent about its source material. Granted, Simon Baker's general account of Rome's lengthy history is not on a par with, say, Eric Hobsbawm or Kissinger's ''Diplomacy'' in terms of detail or analysis, but for any fresh entrant into the field of Roman history, history student or otherwise, this is an enjoyable, informative read. Baker, in contrast to the way the contents section is listed, does not gloss over some of ...more
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Reading the book with the series 2 12 Apr 17, 2016 03:24AM  
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  • Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity
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“Indeed, in exiling Arius and his followers the treatment of ‘heretics’ had been taken out of the hands of bishops and become subject to the criminal law pronounced by the emperor.55 Religious and imperial power had become one. In” 0 likes
“The Romans, terrified by the noise on either side, were running out of strength, numbers and weapons. This was the critical moment of the battle, and both sides fought with utter ferocity. Caesar rode along the ramparts to rally his men in person, shouting at them and explaining how ‘all the fruits of their labour depended upon that day, that hour’.30 Finally, he deployed his reserves of cavalry to attack the Gauls in the rear, and, riding at their head, he now threw himself into the frenetic fighting. As the scarlet colour of his cloak heralded his arrival, a booming shout went up from the Roman defences. The tables had turned, and it was now the allied Gauls who were trapped on both sides by the Romans. When they saw the Roman cavalry arrive, they turned tail and fled. Under” 0 likes
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