Augustus : A Novel

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By the author of Stoner, the surprise international bestseller. After the brutal murder of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, Octavian, a shy and scholarly youth of nineteen, suddenly finds himself heir to the vast power of Rome. He is destined, despite vicious power struggles, bloody wars and family strife, to transform his realm and become the greatest ruler the western world had ever seen: Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor. Building on impeccable research, John Williams brings the legendary figure of Augustus vividly to life, and invests his characters with such profound humanity that we enter completely into the heat and danger of their lives and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 130 x 194 x 26mm | 299.38g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099445085
  • 9780099445081
  • 18,766

Review quote

"Weir's sympathetic and detailed biography reassesses the life of a woman whose role in public life...has been underrated by historians" New Statesman "The finest historical novel ever written by an American" Washington Post "It would be easy to over-praise this novel; but there does not seem any adequate reason why this temptation should be resisted" Economist "A novel of extraordinary range, yet of extraordinary minuteness, that manages never to sacrifice one quality for the other" Financial Times "Williams has fashioned an always engaging, psychologically convincing work of fiction - a consistent and well-realized portrait" New Yorkershow more

About John Williams

John Williams was born on August 29, 1922 in Clarksville, Texas. He served in the United States Army Air Force from 1942 to 1945 in China, Burma and India. The Swallow Press published his first novel, Nothing But the Night, in 1948, as well as his first book of poems, The Broken Landscape, in 1949. Macmillan published Williams' second novel, Butcher's Crossing, in 1960. After recieving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Denver, and his Ph.D from the University of Missouri, Williams returned in 1954 to the University of Denver where he taught literature and the craft of writing for thirty years. In 1963 Williams received a fellowship to study at Oxford University where where he received a Rockefeller grant enabling him to travel and research in Italy for his last novel, Augustus, published in 1972. John Williams died in Arkansas on March 4, more

Review Text

30 years after its first British publication in 1973, it's a pleasure to welcome back this masterful work. Lovers of high-quality literature should be delighted to see the reissue of this, Williams's third and last novel, which was also his most successful and highly acclaimed, winning the National Book Award in 1973. It has reappeared several times in the intervening years, and this edition features an eloquent introduction from John McGahern, who seems only too glad to take the chance to praise the work of 'a remarkable writer working at the very height of his powers'. The premise is simple enough. Williams takes the life of Octavius - a young man who is destined to become the first Roman emperor when his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, dies - and embellishes his tale with a combination of fictional letters, dispatches and memoirs. Thanks to a Rockefeller grant received during his time at Oxford, Williams was given the opportunity to travel to Italy to put in some first-hand research, and the story clearly benefits from this. The Roman Empire's days of glory fairly leap from the pages. Whether in the visceral brutality of the land and naval battles or the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by those who ruled its vast expanse, it's all very much the stuff of epics. And the characters are equally realistic, the mishaps and good fortune of their lives drawing the reader into their innermost thoughts. The skill with which Williams portrays the subterfuge and ruthless machinations of those hungry for power really does make you feel as if you're there. A classic novel. (Kirkus UK)show more