SPQR : A History of Ancient Rome

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Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller Shortlisted for a British Book Industry Book of the Year Award 2016 Ancient Rome matters. Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories - from Romulus and Remus to the Rape of Lucretia - still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today. SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world's foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria, but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us. Covering 1,000 years of history, and casting fresh light on the basics of Roman culture from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, this is a definitive history of ancient Rome. SPQR is the Romans' own abbreviation for their state: Senatus Populusque Romanus, 'the Senate and People of Rome'.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 544 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 51mm | 1,060g
  • Profile Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1846683807
  • 9781846683800
  • 8,120

Review quote

Masterful ... This is exemplary popular history, engaging but never dumbed down, providing both the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life * The Economist * Ground-breaking ... invigorating ... revolutionary ... a whole new approach to ancient history -- Thomas Hodgkinson * Spectator * Fast-moving, exciting, psychologically acute, warmly sceptical -- Bryan Appleyard * Sunday Times * Vastly engaging ... a tremendously enjoyable and scholarly read -- Natalie Haynes * Observer * Sustaining the energy that such a topic demands for more than 600 pages, while providing a coherent answer to the question of why Rome expanded so spectacularly, is hugely ambitious. Beard succeeds triumphantly -- Peter Heather * Sunday Times * Masterful...Structures and institutions are the dominant concern in Beard's compelling analysis but it is constantly enlivened by gripping episodes...a subtle and engaging interrogation of the complex and contradictory textual and material traces of the Roman world. -- Catharine Edwards * The Guardian * An accomplished scholar and lively debunker...Beard informs and entertains without ever patronising her readers. What she touches turns to light ... SPQR is pacy, weighty, relevant and iconoclastic. Who knew classics could be so enthralling? Lucky are the students of Mary Beard. -- Yasmin Alibhai Brown * Independent * Always alive to the contemporary relevance of its subject...a refreshing rethink of a very old topic -- Shadi Bartsch * FT * Beard guides you on an enthralling journey through the Roman world. However well you think you know the country, she gives different views, new aspects...Even those who know a lot about Rome will learn more, and find themselves questioning much of which they were previously certain. SPQR does what history should do. -- Allan Massie * Scotsman * Praise for Mary Beard: 'She's pulled off that rare trick of becoming a don with a high media profile who hasn't sold out, who is absolutely respected by the academy for her scholarship ... what she says is always powerful and interesting * The Guardian * An irrepressible enthusiast with a refreshing disregard for convention * FT * Dynamically, wittily and authoritatively brings the ancient world to life -- Simon Sebag Montefiore With such a champion as Beard to debunk and popularise, the future of the study of classics is assured * Daily Telegraph * If they'd had Mary Beard on their side back then, the Romans would still have their empire. * Daily Mail * In SPQR, her wonderful concise history, Mary Beard unpacks the secrets of [Rome]'s success with a crisp and merciless clarity that I have not seen equalled anywhere else. ... We tend to think of the Romans as coarser successors to the Greeks. Yet Beard, who doubles as a Cambridge professor and a television lecturer of irresistible salty charm, shows us how the Roman Republic got underway at almost the same time as the Athenian democracy. And it evolved into just the kind of mixed system that sophisticated commentators like Aristotle and Polybius approved of. -- Ferdinand Mount * New York Times Book Review * Ms. Beard tells this story precisely and clearly, with passion and without technical jargon. [...] Two unequal parts of Rome dreamed of civil harmony between men and basked in the apparent favor of the gods but knew deep down that they were two cities, not one. SPQR is a grim success story, but one told with wonderful flair. -- Greg Woolf * Wall Street Journal * This is an innovative history that may well acquire the same status as the works of Theodor Mommsen, Ronald Syme, and other great interpreters of the Roman world. And, like any great work of historical interpretation, it implicitly invites us to think about our own world, and about our answers to the question of what makes us human. * Sydney Morning Herald *show more

About Mary Beard

Mary Beard is a professor of classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and the classics editor of the TLS. She has world-wide academic acclaim. Her previous books include the bestselling, Wolfson Prize-winning Pompeii, The Roman Triumph, The Parthenon and Confronting the Classics. Her blog has been collected in the books It's a Don's Life and All in a Don's Day. She is in the 2014 top 10 Prospect list of the most influential thinkers in the world.show more

Review Text

Masterful ... This is exemplary popular history, engaging but never dumbed down, providing both the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life The Economistshow more

Rating details

11,530 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 37% (4,243)
4 42% (4,877)
3 16% (1,867)
2 4% (407)
1 1% (136)
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