S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome
By Mary Beard
New York: Liveright Publishing, 215. 606 pp. Non-fiction
Mary Beard, a Cambridge don specializing in classics, presents a fresh and enlightening history of Rome's first thousand years (approximately), starting with its uncertain beginnings as a refuge for vagabonds, runaways slaves,etc. and ending in 212 CE with the Emperor Caracalla decreeing that all freeborn men within the empire are Roman citizens. In this scholarly and somewhat revisionist work, the author reexamines and reevaluates famous persons, battles and political struggles as well as the more prosaic aspects of Roman society and domestic life. While it is a bit more academic in style, lacking the narrative flow one often experiences in popular non-fiction, this book is very interesting and highly readable. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in ancient history. If you read and enjoyed The Rise of Rome by Anthony Everett or Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra, this would be a good choice as well.