The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
Everyone knows the names of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero and most people have heard at least some of the stories that surround them. But their iconic status has also served to make them unknowable. In this book Tom Holland sets out to redress the balance. The Julio-Claudians are still figures of epic proportion, imbued with terrible charisma and plunging headlong into corruption. But he brings them to life as individuals.
In doing so he also manages to conjure up the everyday reality of Ancient Rome, the religious fads, the fashions of the wealthy, the brutality of the military machine, the sexual obsessions and class prejudices, and, above all, the glamour of power that holds the whole city in its sway.
Tom Holland's voice is direct but always informed and authoritative. He combines a historian's feeling for pattern with a novelist's eye for detail. A riveting read.