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Julius Caesar

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,601 ratings  ·  129 reviews
More than two thousand years after his death, Julius Caesar remains one of the great figures of history. He shaped Rome for generations, and his name became a synonym for "emperor" -- not only in Rome but as far away as Germany and Russia. He is best known as the general who defeated the Gauls and doubled the size of Rome's territories. But, as Philip Freeman describes in ...more
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  1,601 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Alan Tomkins-Raney
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent biography, thrilling narrative history. The author is a great writer, and this book reads like fast paced adventure. Julius Caesar had an amazing life and left behind an incredible legacy. This is a fair and balanced chronicle of Caesar's career and accomplishments. The adventures, plots, and intrigues are clearly explained. Even Caesar's enemies grudgingly admired his abilities, and I believe most readers of this book will, too. Still, there's no denying that he became a tyrant, and b ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I approached this book with a bit of apprehension. Last year I loved Alexander the Great by the same author, will this book be able to draw me in and involve me at the same level? I shouldn’t have worried. I was captivated by Caesar’s story as much as I was by Alexander’s.

Caesar is obviously one of the most famous figures of all times, but even if you know your history well and know what’s going to happen, Freeman makes it so fresh. In the pages of this book, you feel the tension in the senate d
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
The author prefaces this book with a quick anecdote which provided the motivation to write this biography. With interest waning during his springtime Latin class, Professor Freeman revived his students’ interest with a quick Julius Caesar Q&A. The students knew little of the historical figure besides his name, but were fascinated by what Freeman shared with them. The author generalized this observation to the general reading public and has written a straightforward and engaging biography. And fo ...more
Fred Klein
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an easily read and enjoyable biography of Julius Caesar. Up to this point, I was mostly familiar with Julius Caesar from Shakespeare's play and mentions of him in other history books.

Those of you who read my reviews of history and biographies will be able to predict what criticism is coming: Although the two maps at the beginning of the book are helpful, especially the one of Gaul, this book could have used more maps. Most of the book is about Caesar's battles, and I would have liked to
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific biography of a fascinating man, a great (in a proper sense of the word) man. Freeman does a phenomenal job of making history not only accessible, but compelling as well. The book was educational, interesting and never boring. Though, of course, this is the story everyone knows the ending too. Very glad I found and read this book, nonfiction and/or history doesn't always read this exciting. Highly recommended.
May 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Mary by: publisher
Philip Freeman's "Julius Caesar" is a comprehensive biography of the Roman conqueror that is as straightforward and readable as the general's own "Gallic Wars". Freeman not only stitches together the various ancient accounts of Caesar's exploits but adds context to his activities by including helpful background information about his various adversaries pulled from a wealth of modern scholarship. He recounts Caesar's conquest of the Celtic tribes of Gaul against a vivid tapestry of the Celtic cul ...more
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love it when some of the best writing in classical studies comes from professors at smaller colleges like Philip Freeman, who hails from Luther College in Iowa. This is the second book by Freeman that I've read, and I enjoy his books not only for their scholarship but their wonderful sense of narrative. Here his subject is another ambitious and brilliant military strategist whose deeds shaped the world we live in. What really surprised me in reading this though is how much I didn't know about ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
The book serves as a basic summary of the events of Caesar's life, but Freeman does little to probe the man himself. I suppose this could serve as a good introduction, and Freeman writes in a readable style. Granted, there is not much material to try and probe into the personality and psychology of Caesar, but I would have preferred the author attempt some inspired guesses. Crucial questions, such as why the senators heaped honors upon him, and why he accepted them, are dealt with in a few parag ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As a historian, Philip Freeman is thorough. As a writer, Freeman is thoroughly entertaining. He has succeeded brilliantly in bringing to life one of the most famous historical figures of all time. I found myself captivated by Freeman's narrative style and I flew through his engaging story of Caesar's life and times. Having read Shakespeare's treatment a number of times, it was thrilling to fill in the blanks and better understand the historical context in which this fascinating life was lived. T ...more
Masen Production
“Philip Freeman's Julius Caesar is a fascinating and well-written book. I have read many books on the life of Julius Caesar and he is one of my favorite leaders of all times. I can understand what it must have been to serve under him or stand against him. Even 2000 years later one knows that he was a master tactician, intelligent politician, supreme leader who stood in front always and above all he too had flaws which finally saw to his downfall.
Freeman's book provides a highly readable account
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I had doubts about this book. Julius Caesar, one of history's greats, in under 400 pages?Still, since I actually hadn't read a biography of Caesar, I might as well press on. It starts somewhat typically (read uninteresting) but as time goes by and Caesar begins his career as a soldier, the pace picks up dramatically. Let me put it this way--this book would make a heck of an action movie. Caesar's brilliance in developing new tactics on the spot and doing the unexpected ranks with any big screen ...more
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I initially began to read this book as "filler" material, you know the time when you have finished one book and are still looking for the next book that interest you. However, once I started reading I couldn't stop. This was an easy read with just the right amount of detail and summary to keep it interesting. My view on Julius Caesar has been modified and my understanding of politics as well.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in great men and their deeds as well as anyone with an interes
Jeffrey Brooks
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good introduction to those who aren't familiar with the material; a brisk and pleasant read for those who are. Some editing issues, but overall a very enjoyable read.
May 31, 2008 rated it liked it
This was a good overview of Julius Caesar's life, but if you are well read on Ancient Roman history and the Roman Civil War, this book won't provide much new information for you. In order to make this book fit into its small page size, the author had to leave out a lot of details in regards to battles and personal conflicts, although he talks about the latter in a bit more detail than the former.

However, the one area where the author delves into detail is in describing the tribes of Gaul and Ger
Satwik Govindarajula
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
After finishing the book, I feel in equal measures, enlightened and confused.
The book in itself seems excellent and truly immersive.
Freeman has done an amazing job at recounting the events through apparent vigorous research.

The only question I am left with at the end, though is about Caesar's motivations towards the end, leading to such a tragic end to his legacy.
If I were to believe everything from the book, casting aside any interpretative anomalies in favour of Freeman's expertise in the
May 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best biography ever read. While politically incorrect, to some degree, I unapologetically view him as the most impressive man who ever lived after reading the biography. He faced such awesome adversity and challenges and always ended-up on top (except until the fateful Ides of March). One is led to believe he almost had devine guidance and protection, until you come to the logical conclusion that he was a true genius in leading people to making strategic, calculated risks. His desire to clean-up ...more
David Ruiz
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable man that Gaius Julius Caesar was. I never seem to be astonish by the life of Julius Caesar and his greatest accomplishments that led to the demise of the Roman Republic that would later lead to the rise of the Roman Empire. This book talks about his life and his rise to power, how he came to be who he became.
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking to learn about Caesar
This book was really easy to read and kept me very engaged the whole time. I would highly recommend this to someone who wants to learn about Caesar and Rome during this period, but don't want to slog through a long, scholarly book.
Ike Pius
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
This author did his home work.. He was very interested in the life of Julius Caesar.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love history and reading about Caesar was really enjoyable.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman is the historical biography of one of the most important figure in ancient history. Similar to Alexander the Great, which I have just read previously by the very same author, many people today will undoubtedly have heard of the name Julius Caesar and more famously of his tragic ending but sadly, not much else. I loved how the author began the book with this very thought as he was teaching his class which I presume lead him to write this biography. This book surpri ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Andrea by: Jon Mellberg
Shelves: history
I gotta say: I'm impressed. I didn't know too much about Julius Caesar, but, man. He was BA.

I really enjoyed this book (I listened to it via Audible) and learned a ton not only about Caesar, but about Roman culture and politics, war strategy and about the other civilizations that were contemporaries of the Romans. It was actually quite educational and, aside from all the names and places, very easy to follow and appreciate.

I was fascinated by learning about Caesar's overlap with Herod's father
Travis Müller
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just as Anthony Everitt had done with his magnificent biography on Cicero, Freeman manages to make the complexities of Republic-era Roman history as relevant to our modern headspace as humanly possible. And just as I had felt with that the aforementioned Cicero, this book have given me a serious case of Sunday Sadness. I chose to evaluate this book through this particular lens as the two works have become something akin to literary kin.

Where Freeman differs from Everitt is in his approach to his
Dave B
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Really impressed with this biography. Freeman accurately and effortlessly presented Caesars conquests that quite honestly read like a work of fiction.
Caesar was a skilled politician, a brilliant tactician on the battlefield but was always too willing to pardon his enemies, dozens of which would come back to bite him.
After reading this it seems that Caesars ultimate undoing was his pride towards the ending of his life. The Roman Senate assigned title after title while Roman citizens were so impre
Gilda Felt
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Freeman does an excellent job of making lots of information easily accessible. He gives us a Caesar who, ambitious and driven, isn’t the villain he is so often portrayed. Caesar had a choice; bypass the Senate and use force to achieve his revolutionary goals, or allow the Republic to slip further into chaos, all in the name of preserving tradition. The Rome of Cincinnatus and Scripio was long gone. The ancient Republic founded by Romulus had ceased to exist.

Yet the Senate would continue to attem
John Minster
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an entertaining biography of the great Roman leader. Freeman does an admirable job giving the reader the important info, some interesting details, without overwhelming him. The flip side is there is not as much detail as I would like; though, some of that is undoubtedly due to the small amount of source material available, there certain people, events etc that I felt deserved more coverage.

I also would have liked Freeman to spend more time on what Rome was actually like--he went from e
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, history
This is one of the best books I have read on Roman history and I have read quite a few. The writing was so clear and engaging and the subject fascinating. I understood more than I ever have about what was happening in the first century B.C.E. The author has a generally favorable attitude toward his subject and the way Julius Caesar was able to come up with surprising solutions to difficult and urgent problems time and time again. Since I too admire Caesar's political efforts on behalf of the gen ...more
Brad Earle
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great read for anyone wanting an informed biography of Julius Caesar. I feel confident that I now know much more about Julius Caesar than the average bear. The only issue I have—and this may be a “me” problem more than an author problem—is I wish some of the Latin names and terms had pronunciation guides when introduced. I can’t stand reading a word where I’m guessing at the pronunciation. That’s not to say the book is rife with unwieldy Latin words; it’s not, and overall the book is quite rea ...more
Jim Keough
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this biography. By no means am I am expert on Roman history and was seeking a book that told me Julius caeser's story and provided enough background info to put Caeser's actions into perspective. The portion on Caeser conquering Gaul and the political actions that led up to the Civl War with Pompey were both very fascinating. The only subject where felt I needed more information was the section on Caeser invading Britannia.

Strongly recommend this book fo anyone looking to learn
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
I'm surprised I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Normally, Roman history isn't my cup of tea, but I decided to give it a shot anyway, as it was recommended to me by my local librarian. The writing in this book was engaging and enjoyable to read. One of my chief complaints with other works is that I find the writing to be dry, boring and therefore, hard to get into and enjoy. The author's job as a college professor/lecturer definitely is reflected in the writing.
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I teach Classics and Celtic studies at Luther College in the beautiful little town of Decorah, Iowa. I did my doctoral work at Harvard and taught at Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis before coming to Luther to help run the Classics department. I love teaching and see my writing as an extension of my work in the classroom. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I enjoyed writi ...more

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