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Julius Caesar


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About the Author

Philip Freeman is Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and a former professor of classics at Washington University in St. Louis. He was selected as a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton for January 2012. He earned the first joint Ph.D. in classics and Celtic studies from Harvard University, and has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Divinity School, the American Academy in Rome, and the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. The author of several previous books including Alexander the Great, St. Patrick of Ireland and Julius Caesar, he lives with his family in Decorah, Iowa. Visit him at PhilipFreemanBooks.com.


Classics professor Freeman (Luther Coll., Iowa; The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts) has written an admiring and fast-paced biography of the Roman general and dictator (c.100-44 B.C.E.) called by Alexander Hamilton "the greatest man who ever lived." No one reading this account of Caesar's marvelous adventures in Gaul, Egypt, and Britain would question Hamilton's judgment. The great Romans have been favored with some good recent biographies. Freeman's book lacks the literary quality of Anthony Everitt's Cicero or the erudition and moral complexity of Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar. Nor does Freeman trouble his reader by sharing the conjecture or feel for legend or nuance involved in narrating the life of a man who has been dead for 2000 years. Here, Caesar, descendant of military hero Marius and claiming the goddess Venus among his ancestors, is a product of the Roman slums made good. A serviceable and always accessible introduction for general readers to a man who truly did change history, this book belongs in popular collections.--Stewart Desmond, New York Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Historian Freeman (The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts) paints a flattering portrait of Caesar in this admirable biography, exalting his cunning, military skill, political insights and allegiance to the plebeian class. In fast-paced prose and detailed historical sketches, Freeman traces Caesar's life from early youth onward, covering his marriage and service as a priest (or pontifex); his election to pontifex maximus in 63 B.C.; his command of Roman forces in the Gallic Wars; his ascension to leader of the republic; and his famous assassination. Drawing on Caesar's own writings, Freeman portrays him as a brilliant military strategist whose defense of Roman land in the Gallic Wars extended the rule of Rome from Italy to the Atlantic. Caesar returned to Italy in 49 B.C. and became dictator three years later, seeking to improve the republic through civic reforms, including the taking of a proper census, the building of a library, the codification of Roman law and the conversion of Rome to a solar calendar. Although Freeman's biography reveals little new information about Caesar, his cultural and historical knowledge bring the emperor to life and humanize him in a way no writer before him has succeeded in doing. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Elegant, learned, and compulsively readable, Julius Caesar moves from broad sweep to brilliant detail. Freeman triumphantly tells the story of one of history's greatest and most terrible figures. He is as knowledgeable about Cleopatra's Alexandria as he is about Celtic tribes, and he writes about the Roman Senate with the assurance of an insider. -- Barry Strauss, author of The Trojan War and Professor of History and Classics, Cornell University
Julius Caesar packed more into his life than most of history's great men -- and Philip Freeman unpacks it all with skill and clarity. He takes the reader through every dizzying thrill and spill. The scholar will find much to admire in this book, but, better still, the newcomer to ancient Rome will turn its pages with excitement, enlightenment -- and sheer narrative suspense. -- Anthony Everitt, author of Augustus and Cicero

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