Book Review of Rubicon by Tom Holland

Book Review by Pertinax

The narrative style is excellent ,your attention is held and you will find that you have progressed deeply into the text with little mental effort. The style makes the story unfold like a thriller with good historical detail, I think that the written word in this form achieves via the imagination what only the cleverest of films or theatre can do.

Despite the fact that I was aware of a great deal of the "storyline" I found that I was drawn to the protaganists and found them to be conjured before me with vivd phrases and descriptive technique.

I found that I wanted to know much more about Sulla than heretofore his mould breaking actions seemed to be starkly portrayed. Personally I enjoyed the description of the squalor alongside the grandeur of place ( and political ideals) , and I think it is important to look long and hard at the role of plebians in the strange (to us) limbo of ostensibly free people in a heavily slave reliant economy.

The difficulty I had in digesting the book came from the same trouble spot that Ursus so cannily identified. As the story unfolded I couldnt help but feel that the end of the Republic was the End Of All Things.Or that is how it is presented, the "small state" constitution surely had to progress or mutate in some way to become effective in a world role. It is surely the case that many suffered and terrible events happened without any clue as to the destination of those who drove events on, but The Republic needed to shed its skin and become a new thing -for its own survival in an altered world.

The language of the work is masterful, for contemporary consumption it is excellent, how it will be seen in 100 or 200 years who knows -perhaps it will be seen as akin to Tacitus in "declaiming" in rhetorical style. The strong suit of the book is the portraiture of the leading actors in the drama, and the breath of life given to the mean streets of Rome.

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Union Jack Rubicon for the UK