The History Book Club discussion


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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
The History Book Club will be reading and discussing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon beginning May 10th, 2010. As a group in a previous location we voted on the next group of books in 2008; we will just be getting to Gibbon on May 10th.

However, some of the topics selected for our Spotlighted discussion are quite broad and deserve to have some supplemental spoiler threads to discuss some of these generalized topics in advance. We will set up some of these topics now so that you can become familiar with the subject matter in advance and start developing some of these threads ahead of time.

I believe that this advance supplemental work may deepen the discussion when it begins. As everyone is aware, once we begin reading the spotlighted book; all of the weekly threads are non spoiler. These supplemental threads are not.

So for those folks who do want to have the story unfold then I would recommend that you stay away from these threads until you are well into reading Gibbon; but for the rest of you these threads will be here to help out.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. 2 by Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
This is another worthwhile read which may be a book some of you might want to take a look at:

Rubicon The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland Tom Holland Tom Holland

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic


"On a dark January morning, Julius Caesar, the governor of Gaul, rode with his closest aides towards a river named the Rubicon, which marked the line of the frontier with Ancient Italy. A governor was forbidden to lead troops out of his allotted province—to break this severest of laws was tantamount to a declaration of civil war. Caesar was a gambler, however. Like the consummate actor on the public stage he had always been, he quoted a line from one of Menander's plays: "The die is cast." Then he ordered the legion behind him to advance, over the river and on toward Rome. Crossing the Rubicon was a step so consequential that it has come to stand for every fateful step in history since. When Caesar cast his die, the result was indeed a civil war, one that would end up destroying Rome's traditional freedoms and establishing a permanent dictatorship on the wreckage of its constitution.

In RUBICON, Cambridge- and Oxford-educated historian and novelist Tom Holland gives readers a harrowing and exciting account of the fall of the Republic, one that begins in 100 B.C., the approximate birth date of the generation that was to bring about the Republic's ruin. He then traces the development of these men into the ruling minds of the Republic, to the rise of Alexandria as a thriving metropolis and East-to-West port, the rule of Augustus, and the occurrence at the Rubicon that marked Rome's end of expansionism. Capturing the suspense and drama of Rome's most famous political rivalries, its vibrant and charged atmosphere, all the while featuring some of the most celebrated personalities in history—Caesar, Cicero, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Brutus, Pompey, Virgil. As the UnitedStates embarks on its own imperial adventures, RUBICON is the chronicle of Rome for which readers have been waiting—carefully researched and wildly compelling."

Source: Goodreads

message 3: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Bentley's recommendation of Tom Holland's book "Rubicon" for further reading is an excellent selection. If you wanted one good book to provide a compelling and deeply interesting account of Rome you couldn't go past this book.

Rubicon by Tom Holland by Tom Holland

message 4: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Another very good general history that I found pleasing to read and full of interesting information was; "The Grandeur That Was Rome" by J.C. Stobart.

The Grandeur That Was Rome by J.C. Stobart by J.C. Stobart
"Much of the humour, charm and enthusiastic optimism mentioned in his many obituaries still comes across from the friendly, lucid style of his two most famous books, whose 'point of view', according to his Preface to The Grandeur that was Rome, 'is that of humanity and the progress of civilisation'. The books were ground-breaking and successful partly because of their popular as well as scholarly approach and partly because they included what were then newly sumptuous photographic illustrations.

Stobart writes in his Preface: 'The pictures are an integral part of my scheme. It is not possible with Rome, as it was with Greece, to let pictures and statues take the place of wars and treaties. Wars and treaties are an essential part of the Grandeur of Rome...the pictures are chosen so that the reader's eye may be able to gather its own impression of the Roman genius.'

He disagrees with Gibbon's pessimistic view of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, pointing out that 'The mere notion of empire continuing to decline and fall for five centuries is ridiculous' and remarking that 'this is one of the cases which prove that History is made not so much by heroes or natural forces as by historians', since 'if all the Roman historians had perished and only the inscriptions remained we should have a very different picture of the Roman Empire, a picture much brighter and, I think, much more faithful to truth.' He admires the Romans for their law, discipline, engineering and especially their sanitation, but it is clear that he prefers the Greeks for their art, philosophy, mathematics and literature." - Wikipedia

message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Thank you Aussie Rick for helping to develop these threads.

message 6: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Two other good books that could offer decent and interesting overview histories of the Roman world are:
"The History of Rome" by Michael Grant and "Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire" by Simon Baker. I have Simon Baker's book but have not read it yet and cannot comment on its content

History of Rome by Michael Grant by Michael Grant (not read)

Ancient Rome The Rise and Fall of an Empire by Simon Baker by Simon Baker (not read)
Publishers blurb:
"Ancient Rome" is the story of the greatest empire ever known. Focusing on six momentous turning points that helped to shape Roman history, Simon Baker's gripping narrative charts the rise and fall of the world's first superpower - a political machine unmatched in its brutality, its genius, its lust for power. From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discoer the most critical episodes in Roman history: the spectacular collapse of the 'free' republic, the birth of the age of the 'Caesars', the violent suppression of the strongest rebellion against Roman power, and the bloody civil war that launched Christianity as a world of religion. At the heart of this account are the dynamic, complex but flawed characters of some of the most powerful rulers in history: men such as Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero and Constantine. Putting flesh on the bones of these distant, legendary figures, Simon Baker looks beyond the dusty, toga-clad caricatures and explores the real motivations and ambitions, intrigues and rivalries. This is Rome as we've never seen it before - awesome and splendid, gritty and squalid. Accompanying a landmark BBC television series, "Ancient Rome" is a fresh, fast-paced history which addresses themes about the nature of power that are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago

message 7: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) I picked up a copy of this book today which seems to offer an easy to read one volume account of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire; "Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire 753BC - AD476" by Patricia Southern.

ANCIENT ROME The Rise and Fall of an Empire 753BC - AD476 by Patricia Southern by Patricia Southern

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