Gladiator

( 1 )

Overview

In this compelling look at the most violent sporting event in history, Richard Watkins explores the world of the gladiators. "Watkins handles a difficult subject well, stressing the games as so fixed in the history and politics of the Roman world that reminders of their long duration can be seen today. If any single title can turn sports-minded young people into students of history, this is the book to do it." --School Library Journal, starred review

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Overview

In this compelling look at the most violent sporting event in history, Richard Watkins explores the world of the gladiators. "Watkins handles a difficult subject well, stressing the games as so fixed in the history and politics of the Roman world that reminders of their long duration can be seen today. If any single title can turn sports-minded young people into students of history, this is the book to do it." --School Library Journal, starred review

Describes the history of gladiators, including types of armor, use of animals, amphitheaters, and how the practice fit into Roman society for almost 700 years.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this engrossing debut, Watkins chronicles the early history of combative sport and offers an insightful look into ancient Romeand the seeds of Western culture. He begins in Rome in 264 B.C. with the first known gladiatorial combat, and ends with a tragic event in 404 A.D. (when a Christian monk, attempting to come between two combatants, was torn limb from limb by a mob of spectators). Along the way, he traces the origins of the sport, the political stature it gained (including how the succession of Emperors used them as a show of power) to its inevitable end with the spread of Christianity. The one-on-one combat (which originated with the Etruscans) featured gladiators, who were usually bareskinned except for a tunic, a weapon (of sword or trident) and a shield (six types of fighters and their attire are described in detail). The Romans adopted the tradition and, as the centuries progressed, each Roman Emperor used them to outdo his predecessor, expanding the combat into day-long tournaments between slaves and criminals, animalseven ships. Charcoal and pencil sketches detail the period costumes and architecture. By focusing on the history of this one sport, Watkins ingeniously points out not only the lasting legacy of the gladiators in the sports thriving today (e.g., bull fights, rodeo, wrestling, boxing and football), but also in the exploitation of the many lands, animals and peoples needed to satisfy the increasing thirst for blood, sport and power. This eloquent history will make gladiators seem as real for today's readers as they were over 1500 years ago. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature
Comprehensive in nature and meticulous in detail, this fascinating resource takes a closeup look at the heroic and tragic lives of Roman gladiatorsfrom the first combat at the funeral of Junius Brutus in 264 B.C. to the barbaric battles in the Roman Colosseum witnessed by thousands of entranced onlookers. The author provides detailed information about the selection of gladiators (most of them were prisoners of war, slaves or criminals), their training at specialized schools, the costumes they wore, the weapons they used during combat, the different events that occurred in the amphitheaters, the sea battle reenactments at the Colosseum, the role gladiators played in Roman society, a typical day at the games, the final abolition of gladiatorial combat, and the influence gladiators had on the world of sports. In addition to wellwritten descriptions and outstanding drawings, this eXceptional volume also contains a reading list, bibliography, glossary and indeX. This book offers an eXcellent introduction to the history of gladiators and provides a great starting place for young researchers who are interested in learning more about this intriguing topic. 2000, Houghton Mifflin, $17.00 and $7.95. Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: Debra Briatico <%ISBN%> 039582656X
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
At his funeral in 264 B.C., a nobleman's sons made their slaves fight to the death as a sacrifice to the gods. From this revival of an ancient Etruscan custom until 404 A.D., untold thousands of captives, criminals, slaves, and disloyal citizens were slaughtered in Roman arenas (the Latin word for the sand that soaked up victims' blood). Among these men, women and children were a smaller number of Gladiator's, specially trained, distinctively clad killers, whose appearance added an element of sport to the carnage. Richard Watkins has crammed more intriguing information about these professionals into a thoroughly readable, self-illustrated volume than you are likely to find elsewhere in an equally accessible form. He traces the gladiator's training from slavery to the arena, describes the amphitheaters created for their crowd-pleasing blood sport, and includes cutaways of Rome's Colosseum, which was designed to accommodate land and water battles as well as wild-animal spectacles. He defines the gladiator's role in society, rivetingly recreates a typical day at the imperial games, and notes contemporary remnants of the Roman gladiator's era-bullfights, rodeo bulldogging, trained animal acts, professional wrestling and boxing, to name a few. A glossary, index, and bibliography complete the author/artist's impressive first work.
From The Critics
Gladiators are a fascinating subject for today's young audience. This book features great cut-away views of a coliseum, details of gladiator battles, and information on the animals they fought. The pencil drawings give a "somber" tone to the book and the historical context will attract curious readers. 2000, Houghton Mifflin, $7.95. Ages 10 to 12. Reviewer: A. Braga SOURCE: Parent Council Volume 8
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9The rectangular picture-book format is perfect for a book that describes the incredibly long history of the Roman games. In Watkins's dramatic and realistic charcoal-and-pencil drawings, placed against stark white pages, readers see the bizarre equipment of the gladiators, the exotic animals brought to the arenas, and the complex architecture and advanced technology involved in the construction of the great amphitheaters of the Roman Empire. The 12 brief chapters nicely balance the pictures with amazing facts about the 7 centuries of official arena shows. The horror of blood sports is not shown in the precisely detailed drawings but lies in the statistical information about the numbers of victims and the long popularity of death-centered entertainments. Watkins's research in recent and scholarly books of history reveals the political uses of the games, the central role of the hundreds of amphitheaters throughout the Empire, and the reluctance of both people and government to give up the games. The glamour of the gladiators as superheroes will draw readers to learn about the contests, the weapons, the bloodshed, and the inhumanity of a culture that for centuries celebrated death as public sport. Watkins handles a difficult subject well, stressing the games as so fixed in the history and politics of the Roman world that reminders of their long duration can be seen today. If any single title can turn sports-minded young people into students of history, this is the book to do it.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
The heroic and bloody story of the Roman gladiators is retold in Watkins's debut work, a comprehensive and vividly illustrated guide that will impart his obvious passion for the subject to budding historians.

Despite their sophistication in government and the arts, Romans had a cruel and crude taste for violence, and Watkins traces the growth of the games from the first combat in 264 b.c., at the funeral of Junius Brutus, to the elaborate spectacles that regularly entranced thousands at the Colosseum. A job that was first thought fit only for prisoners of war, slaves, and criminals, it became an honored profession that, at the height of the empire, was more than half-full of distinguished male volunteers (women gladiators were officially banned in a.d. 200). Watkins meticulously reviews the training of gladiators and also takes readers through an upbeat gallery of the various types of gladiators who played the games. The black-and-white drawings capture the elegance of the Roman Colosseum, and the excitement of the sea battles that were held at terrific expense; the renderings of the gladiators are consistently dramatic.

From the Publisher

"Watkins handles a difficult subject well, stressing the games as so fixed in the history and politics of the Roman world that reminders of their long duration can be seen today. If any single title can turn sports-minded young people into students of history, this is the book to do it." —School Library Journal, starred review School Library Journal, Starred

"The heroic and bloody story of the Roman gladiators is retold in Watkins's debut work, a comprehensive and vividly illustrated guide that will impart his obvious passion for the subject to budding historians." — Kirkus Kirkus Reviews

“This eloquent history will make gladiators seem as real for today’s readers as they were over 1,500 years ago.” — Publishers Wekly, starred review Publishers Weekly, Starred

“A winner for students and browsers alike.” — Booklist, starred review Booklist, ALA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618070329
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 804,360
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: NC1200L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Richard Watkins is a full-time toy designer who loves old monster movies and toys from the sixties. He became fascinated with gladiators at age twelve when his parents traveled to Italy and brought back a book filled with stories of ancient Rome. He lives in West Chester, Ohio, with his wife and two daughters.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2001

    Excellent and Informative

    This book gives a very thorough description of gladiators in ancient Rome. Not only was this book helpful for school , it was a pleasure to read. If you are looking for an interesting book that gives a lot of useful information about gladiators, then this is the book for you!

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