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Dangerous Days in the Roman Empire: Terrors and Torments, Diseases and Deaths

(Dangerous Days)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in-for-me,' Julius Caesar cried as he fell under the thrusts of twenty daggers. Oh, all right, Caesar didn't cry that, Kenneth Williams did in the movie Carry on Cleo. But nor did he sigh 'Et tu, brute?' as Shakespeare would have us believe. The history we think we know is full of misconceptions, mischiefs, misunderstandings ... and monks ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 7th 2013 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  175 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the second book in this series of 'Horrible Histories' for adults by the HH author. Deary gives us his Horrible Histories take on the Romans, giving us the basic facts but also putting in all the gross stuff too, like the violent deaths. There's also a fair bit about the Emperors sex lives too.

The Romans is oddly on the periods of history where I somehow knew more about day to day life than I did about the Emperors. This book did a really good job of giving us the highs and lows of the e
This is a fairly quick read - I finished it in a couple of hours. Partly that's the layout, bite-size chunks of information in easy-to-read boxes and paragraphs. It's mainly told chronologically, sorted into chapters by causes of death. Historically, people such as the Victorians have seen Rome as a supposed "Golden Age" of civilisation to admire, but Deary makes it clear that there was actually a lot to dislike about the Romans. Emperors murdered their own relatives, armies wiped out entire tri ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
As a HUGE fan of "Horrible Histories" books in my teens, I was disappointed in this "adult" history book by the same author. (Yes, not for the kids, this one)
Still witty and interesting - but sometimes it just felt like the author was trying to push his own views on the reader a tad too much. This becomes very apparent in the epilogue.
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it
This is history presented in bite size pieces which makes for interesting and easy reading. The “Dad jokes” riddled throughout are not particularly funny and a bit unnecessary though.
Dangerous Days in the Roman Empire is the second of my Terry Deary haul and proved to be far more information packed than the one I read on Ancient Egypt, covering three centuries of Roman history from the rule of Augustus to Rome’s fall.

While lip service is given to some aspects of plebeian life, such as a look at some of the jobs that a Roman citizen might have, it’s very much a look at its rulers instead in a whistlestop tour through the good, the bad and the mad emperors (and noting that eac
Anna Marie
“History is a nightmare from which we are trying to awaken.” – James Joyce

It took me about 100 pages or so to really "get into" this book. The details can be just as gory as the back cover promises, but the writing style is much more tongue-in-cheek and chock full of puns. Not exactly what you expect when reading about death by fire or flaying and a series of brutal emperors. For this I really appreciated the excerpts by Dr. Peter Fox that gave the medical reasoning by how and why someone could
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, library, non-fiction
This book is from the author of the Horrible History books which I had loved so much and this book is one of the books for adults that focuses on the more gruesome parts of history.

I did enjoy this book, it went through the different emperors that ruled over Rome and the good, bad and the mad things they did, however, I felt like it was missing a certain lightheartedness and humour that I so enjoyed in the Horrible History books. It was a good overview of the more gruesome bits of the Roman Emp
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Deary knows his stuff. Very strange read though. Writing style would make it suitable for a young adult reader, but the subject matter is adults only. Frank discussion of extreme violence and sexual depravity, so disturbing and offputting in parts. Loses points with me as the entire book is punctuated with *very* lame puns. Also features far too many footnotes, most of which contain no useful information, being either jokes or flippant remarks. This disturbs the flow of the book. An entertaining ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a hilarious trip through Roman history.

I love a bit of history but I don’t always want to sit down and read a massive in-depth study on something, so this was the perfect solution. The book essentially compiles all the juicy details into quick and easy to digest facts. Then it throws in hilarious footnotes and witty comments that just makes the whole thing so much fun to read.

If I had any complaints it would be that the timelines were occasionally quite difficult to follow and there a
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of fun and a great way to get a quick over-view of the Roman Empire. Doesn't go into too much depth but it does have a lot of interesting and funny anecdotes that might not be featured in more serious history books.

Written by the man who wrote the 'Horrible Histories' books (upon which the BBC show is based).
Matilda Rose
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really funny history of the Roman Empire, focusing specifically on the many emperors of Rome. It's lots of fun to read and approaches the subject in a new, hilarious way! It will help the reader to see Ancient Rome in a whole new light! ...more
Jacob Stelling
Very enjoyable read, a condensed summary of pretty much everything you might need to know about the Romans. It does miss out some key areas and focuses near entirely on the emperors, but has an amusing format and often gives interesting anecdotes, leading to an easy rather than an academic read.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sometimes a little formulaic, but overall a fun read
Reddy Mallender-Katzy
Oct 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is for adults !? Seriously ... i bought it in the kids section at Oxfam, needless to say i hated tyhe layout and didnt enjoy the repetidity of it, i thought it was for teenagers
Rachel Woollacott
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Not as detailed as could have been. A good taster to that time but didn't really go into much depth. ...more
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
explicit in some parts 14+
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is just like the Horrible Histories books in that the facts are presented in bite-sized chunks and in easy-to-read paragraphs and boxes, with the typical Deary humour and gore. In fact, the only thing missing from the original series is the cartoons. The book is great book for reading when you only have a short amount of time because it is so easy to pick up and put down.

The book covers a vast amount of history and is packed full of information. It remined me of authors such as Philip Ma
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Ehh this was ok. I guess my hopes were raised a bit too high after reading the Horrible History series, by the same author, and this book just... lacked, in comparison. It's ostensibly Horrible Histories for adults, but the 'gimmicks' that worked in HH, like the alliteration and the puns, came across as forced and childish in this one. I also felt the huge amount of quotes were annoying, especially as some seemed only VERY tangentially related to the subject (why is there a Victorian anti-alcoho ...more
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Much like other reviewers, I was a huge fan of Horrible Histories growing up, and they spawned within me a passion for history that led me to study it at University. Unfortunately, Deary's writing hasn't quite aged with its audience: the same humour is used (minus the thoroughly entertaining illustrations that accompanied his books for kids) and all that seems to separate it as an adult's book are references to sex that wouldn't upset anyone over the age of ten. The format needs some more organi ...more
This is a really funny book, just like the Horrible Histories series. This book really is like the grownup version of the series.
It’s divided by reigning emperor and it tells what that person did, how they became emperor and how they died. It is a lot more in depth than any other history book I usually read and it’s NOT boring, which is a HUGE plus! That’s what I love about Terry Deary, his book are hilarious and make you want to read more.

Though, this one wasn’t my favourite of the bunch. I mea
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dangerous Days is Deary's new history series for adults, or at the very least young adults. It's in the juvenile section at my library, but that's really not an appropriate classification, at least not to me, as Deary discusses death in graphic medical detail and brings up sexual intrigue in, again, worrying detail. I'd save this for a preteen at the very earliest.

That said, I kind of love them. This is basically Deary's first series, Horrible Histories, that has been updated and aged up for an
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Alaric sent peace terms to Honorius. They were reasonable terms. Honorius rejected them on the reasonable grounds that he was an idiot.

A really enjoyable chronicle of the emperors of the Roman Empire. Trying to change the 'pure' image that the Roman Empire holds in a lot of people's minds, this book details why this period in time was anything but pure. One after another, insane men took the throne and made crazy decisions. Some of this is difficult to read, especially the executions, but it
Daniel Kukwa
It's a solid piece of work that acts as a refresher for those in-the-know about Rome's history with its emperors. Lots of information will be familiar, but it's presented in a very easy-to-digest style, and is peppered with many anecdotes and moments of debunking that might be surprising. However, I think it pushes the humour a bit too hard (even though it's supposed to be a humorous book). It IS rather funny on many occasions...but sometimes it gets a bit too obvious and too snarky for its own ...more
Sophie Gaft
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
There was something so strange about picking up a book by one of my favorite childhood authors (see Horrible Histories) as an adult, reading a book obviously for adults. His British humor and succinct writing style are pleasing, but I just couldn't get into the book.

It felt very rushed, and I would just zone out to be honest, which is strange considering the Roman's are fascinating to me. It was disappointing, unfortunately, and fell short of my recollections and expectations.

If you're looking
Samuel N
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Slightly clumsy in terms of its organisation. Also makes a couple of sweeping statements in its conclusion that seem to highlight the author's biased point of view (something that somewhat subtly exists in large portions of his writing). The reader will probably see this himself when he reaches the end of the book.

Nonetheless, an entertaining and informative read, am looking forward to the next book in the series.
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly challenging history, but highly entertaining nevertheless. I could talk about the fundamental historical problems, but that'd be to take away from what Terry Deary's books are: pure fun. They're not intended to be 'serious' history books (and goodness knows I read enough of those), and I actually found this to be brilliant to get me back to what attracted me to history in the first place: the people and stories of the past. ...more
Things did get too list-like in the later years, but that was only to be expected, given the sheer number of Roman Emperors. Still, this is part of the problem - there's much more to Roman history than emperors, and leaving a few of those out to focus on ANY other aspect than the wacky rulers would have made this much more interesting. ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I expected this to be much funnier than it was, but despite that it was still pretty informative. could have done without the suddenly anti-Christian mini rant in the epilogue, but oh well. (not that the Christians weren't horrible, but I didn't buy this book for a religious rant). Anyway a solid 3/5 for good information ...more
Jason Tiearney
Jun 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015, owned
Good book to keep on my classroom shelf for students who are interested in the choicer bits of Roman history. A bit sensationalist at times, but that was the point. I did laugh out loud a couple times at the author's fantastically dry sense of humor. ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Deary moves away from grossing out kids with Horrible Histories and tells adults all the fun and naughty bits from history instead. Educational and entertaining.
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A former actor, theatre-director and drama teacher, Deary says he began writing when he was 29. Most famously, he is one of the authors of the Horrible Histories series of books popular among children for their disgusting details, gory information and humorous pictures and among adults for getting children interested in history. Books in the series have been widely translated into other languages ...more

Other books in the series

Dangerous Days (4 books)
  • Dangerous Days in Ancient Egypt
  • Dangerous Days in Elizabethan England
  • Dangerous Days on the Victorian Railways: Terrors and Torments, Diseases and Deaths

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