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Publisher's Summary

This is the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Simon Baker charts the rise and fall of the world's first superpower, focusing on six momentous turning points that shaped Roman history. Welcome to Rome as you've never seen it before - awesome and splendid, gritty and squalid.

From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discover the most critical episodes in Roman history: the spectacular collapse of the "free" republic, the birth of the age of the "Caesars", the violent suppression of the strongest rebellion against Roman power, and the bloody civil war that launched Christianity as a world religion.

At the heart of this account are the dynamic, complex, and flawed characters of some of the most powerful rulers in history: men such as Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, and Constantine. Putting flesh on the bones of these distant, legendary figures, Baker looks beyond the dusty, toga-clad caricatures and explores their real motivations and ambitions.

©2006 Simon Baker; foreword by Mary Beard copyright 2006 by Woodlands Books Ltd (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Well written, clear, and succinct." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about Ancient Rome

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  • Tad Davis
  • 01-08-17

Clear and dramatic

Simon Baker tells the story of Ancient Rome by focusing on a series of dramatic turning points. These turning points are surprisingly well-documented, and Baker describes them with gusto. The Gracchi brothers, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Constantine, and Stilicho (somebody I'd never heard of) all spring to life. Baker's usual technique is to set the scene with a gripping anecdote and then go back and fill in the background and context.

It probably wouldn't pass muster as a general survey, but it served my purposes. My grasp of Roman history was weak, informed mostly by Shakespeare and Ridley Scott. It's still not strong, but at least now I have a framework to use for further exploration.

Chris MacDonnell narrates clearly and with sustained energy. I look forward to hearing other books that he narrated.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Marc
  • 24-05-17

good overview

Obviously, it is impossible to cover everything about Rome in one book. However, this book did a good job of covering a lot of the highlights. recommended

6 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-02-19

A Well Organized, Focused Survey of Ancient Rome

Well performed and smartly organized, Ancient Rome by Simon Baker provides a clear and purposeful survey of ancient Roman history. This book provides a clear outline to the enthusiastic beginner for further reading. For the intermediate, well-read of the common names and events, it will fill gaps in knowledge with its well-researched and tastefully constrained chapters. In the closing chapters, following Titus into Constantine, new and typically uncovered elements of the late empire provide a gateway to reading on Mediterranean societies in the third and fourth centuries. For the expert, its necessary omissions as a survey book are fair, leaning on the satisfying performance and occasionally indulgent hint of drama and suggestion whereas stricter historical accounts are sparse and often dry. The Roman Republic and Empire, as dauntingly complex as it appears, can be approached amenably through this book. A lovely opportunity to witness the power of historical drama with a broad brush that can lead to lifelong addiction for the ancient world.

3 people found this helpful

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  • nick
  • 22-01-19

History come alive.

A great over view of the Roman Empire and how the falls of each autocracy is a must and all brutal. The greatest enemy of any empire is from within as illustrated by Rome.

2 people found this helpful

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  • M. Hu
  • 07-01-19

Chris Macdonald is the best!

Well written, perfect performance! Just love it. I strongly recommend it to my friends and coworkers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-10-18

Great overview

This is a solid read for someone curious about the subject and wanting to get started. I highly recommend you check it out.

1 person found this helpful

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  • NLC
  • 21-11-17

Great Story of Ancient Rome

Fantastic overview of the Ancient Rome. This was a great Audible. The narrator was okay; could have been better. Overall I recommend this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • JRJ22
  • 14-10-20

Great listen

Straight and to the point while being entertaining at the same time. Excellent book that I highly recommend.

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  • Jacob Bretthorst
  • 23-08-20

AWESOME EVERYTHING

At first I was worried I wouldn't be able to understand everything the narrator was saying because of his heavy English accent, turned out I had absolutely nothing to worry about. His voice is very soothing and you never get tired of it, the reader also knows just how to emphasise tone in each sentence perfectly. If you are interested in the history of Rome from its start to its downfall, would absolutely recommend this audiobook.

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  • DeltaEchoBravo
  • 01-12-19

great for an interested novice

I grew up hearing references to the wars, politics, and trials of Ancient Rome, so i had picked up just a bit more then your average person, but i generally do not read nonfiction so this book did a great job hitting key points and providing a survey on the rise and fall off Rome. it filled in a ton of blanks in an engaging and informative way. i look forward to learning more.

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  • Kyle
  • 13-11-20

A fantastic history of Rome

If you are interested in this subject then look no further. This book gives you the entire history from start to finish without a dull moment. The story is written in the feel of a novel, instead of it being a boring history lesson. It certainly provides all the information you could need, whilst simultaneously making these people from thousands of years ago feel alive and humanises them. I would fully recommend this to anyone interested in this.

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  • Nik Jewell
  • 26-04-18

Great Narrative History

A very good history of six key periods in the history of the Roman Republic and Empire. I understand from its preface that it accompanied a BBC TV series but I must have missed it. I am not sure that that I would have picked the same periods but that is a personal choice; the corollary and benefit to this is that I learned something new in some of them.

The six periods are: the agrarian reforms of Tiberius Gracchus; Caesar vs Pompey; the rule of Nero; the Jewish revolt (Tiberius, Josephus); Constantine and Christianity; and the decline and fall (Stilicho, Alaric, Attila).

Whilst not as detailed and, perhaps, less thrilling, as Tom Holland where they overlap (Caesar, Nero) this is good and very readable/listenable narrative history

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  • DSellers
  • 08-11-17

Worth more than one listen

A concise, yet comprehensive overview of the history of Rome. Does not dwell too long on a particular era and offers balanced views and assessment of the sources available. Well read. I will definitely be listening to it again in full, in the future, having just completed it.

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  • John
  • 30-07-17

Comprehensive yet eminently listenable

A history with a broad sweep, yet with fascinating details and strong connecting themes. Clear reading with some minor irritations over some disruptive metric:imperial conversions, which are a bit clunky - more a function of the text than the narration.