Library JournalSweeping from Marius and Sulla to the death of Cicero, Langguth (Patriots, S. & S., 1989) portrays the major political figures of the late Roman Republic. Unfortunately, he vacillates between attempts at popular biography and critical history, his style shifting abruptly between novelistic and annalistic as he strings factual comments together like beads. Errors of fact, chronology, and interpretation abound. For example, Caesar's age is inconsistently chronicled, and the definition of patrician is outdated and inaccurate. Popularization should at least be distinguished by a clear message or lesson, but here there is little to justify the dubious attempts at oversimplification. Apparently intended for interested lay readers, the book cannot be recommended.-James S. Ruebel, Iowa State Univ., Ames
Roland GreenLangguth's narrative of the fall of the Roman republic begins in 81 B.C. with the confrontation of Julius Caesar and the dictator Sulla and the emergence of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Langguth then proceeds, through a series of progressively graver crises and progressively closer approaches to one-man rule, to the emergence of Caesar as supreme power. The intrigues and wars that followed constitute hardly more than an epilogue, for the republic was dead. Caesar and Cicero are the focal figures in Langguth's version of that story, but a host of other memorable actors are vividly portrayed. Langguth's concern throughout is readability, and this he certainly achieves. Fans of Colleen McCullough's massive fictional coverage of the same events will find Langguth's work a valuable companion to hers.
- Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
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