The Reach of Rome: A Journey Through the Lands of the Ancient Empire, Following a Coin

Overview

In this unconventional and accessible history, Italian best-seller Alberto Angela literally follows the money to map the reach and power of the Roman Empire. To see a map of the Roman Empire at the height of its territorial expansion is to be struck by its size, stretching from Scotland to Kuwait, from the Sahara to the North Sea. What was life like in the Empire, and how were such diverse peoples and places united under one rule? The Reach of Rome explores these questions through an ingenious lens: the path of a...

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The Reach of Rome: A Journey Through the Lands of the Ancient Empire, Following a Coin

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Overview

In this unconventional and accessible history, Italian best-seller Alberto Angela literally follows the money to map the reach and power of the Roman Empire. To see a map of the Roman Empire at the height of its territorial expansion is to be struck by its size, stretching from Scotland to Kuwait, from the Sahara to the North Sea. What was life like in the Empire, and how were such diverse peoples and places united under one rule? The Reach of Rome explores these questions through an ingenious lens: the path of a single coin as it changes hands and traverses the vast realms of the empire in the year 115. Admired in his native Italy for his ability to bring history to life through narrative, Alberto Angela opens up the ancient world to readers who have felt intimidated by the category or put off by dry historical tomes. By focusing on aspects of daily life so often overlooked in more academic treatments, The Reach of Rome travels back in time and shows us a world that was perhaps not very different from our own. And by following the path of a coin through the streams of commerce, we can touch every corner of that world and its people, from legionnaires and senators to prostitutes and slaves. Through lively and detailed vignettes all based on archeological and historical evidence, Angela reveals the vast Roman world and its remarkable modernity, and in so doing he reinforces the relevance of the ancient world for a new generation of readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Though tracing a coin is a rather unconventional way to outline the history of an empire, author Alberto Angela had good reason to do so. Admired in his native Italy for his ability to bring history to life through narrative, Alberto Angela opens up the ancient world to readers who have felt intimidated by the category or put off by dry historical tomes. By focusing on aspects of daily life so often overlooked in more academic treatments, The Reach of Rome travels back in time and shows us a world that was perhaps not very different from our own.” ~Italian Tribune

"Using a coin to map the reach and power of the Roman Empire, Alberto Angela introduces readers to the ancient world, offering new insights into its people and territories, and deciphering what it really meant to live in the empire. The author examines aspects of daily life through the lens of a single coin...bringing us face-to-face with the real people of that era." -i-ItalyNY

Library Journal
09/15/2013
Angela (A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome), an Italian science and history TV host, traces the journey of a single bronze coin, a sestertius, so readers can track its use in the Roman Empire during the reign of Trajan (d. 117 CE). This approach allows Angela to detail everyday life across the vast empire and to reassert Trajan as a preeminent emperor—a claim that fails, as Trajan only hovers on the fringes here. Through a series of vignettes with occasional historical detail and explication, the reader follows the sestertius from character to character in a world that seems vaguely faithful to the written and archaeological record, though the work is devoid of sufficient sourcing and notes and contains no index. The text is weakened by overwrought descriptions of light, weather, and other novelistic flourishes, some unwarranted attacks on Arabs and Islam (a religion founded five centuries after the life of the subject of this title), a latent (authorial, not historical) misogyny, and a constant barrage of clumsy analogies to modern life. VERDICT For readers interested in this subject, Jo-Ann Shelton's As the Romans Did is a superior choice. For readers interested in period fiction, Lindsey Davis's Marcus Didius Falco mystery series is authentically and better written. Angela's book is to be avoided.—Evan M. Anderson, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847841288
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Pages: 412
  • Sales rank: 627,323
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Alberto Angela hosts Italy’s most popular history and science television programs. He is the author of A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome, previously translated into English.

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