The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
HisWritten to accompany a BBC series, Simon Baker's account of the rise and fall of the Roman empire focuses on six key periods: the end of the republic and Caesar's assumption of power, the era of Augustus, the crisis provoked by Nero's excesses, the Jewish Revolt, the consolidation of Hadrian, the Christianization of Constantine and the final collapse under pressure from invaders.
Obviously, a great deal is omitted but the consequence of this ruthless selectivity is history with the narrative sweep of a novel. Detail is skilfully used to support the book's thematic purpose, to illustrate the author's argument and to enliven the text, but Baker is always careful to acknowledge his sources. Accessible but authentic, this is popular history as it should be.