SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

“SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

This is not your typical history book, and that was very refreshing. This is the 2nd book by Mary Beard I’ve read. I have read Women & Power, but that’s a wholly different (but excellent!) book. This book is not written as most history books are that plod from historical event to event, with many dates, and Great People of history doing this and that. She analyzes different events in Rome, in a chronological order. She gives clear insight, and commentary on the different events in Rome’s history, and their significance. She explains history, in plain English, and doesn’t just recount what happened.

I really appreciated this style. She makes the large themes, and culture of Roman history make sense. Do I know everything that happened in the Punic war? No, but I have a general sense of the importance and consequences of it. If you really want to dig into certain parts of Roman history, you will have a good grasp of the ebb and flow of the Roman Empire. She makes history interesting. She makes it funny. There were many parts I laughed out loud at.

Now, I don’t want you to think this book is not detailed and well-researched, because it is. But when you are taking the 500 year history of an empire spanning half the globe, you understandably cannot write about everything that happened. She also has made use of many illustrations, and color plates. Thank you. This is why I read history books. I want pictures, charts, maps, and graphs. They give visual life to things she talks about. I think every history book should have illustrations.

Another thing I have to give her credit for is her extremely detailed and easy to follow Further Reading at the back of the book. She explains where to go for more information about different topics with website links, and specific books she recommends. She doesn’t list books, but actually explains which books are good for which topics. Thank you Mary Beard.

NOTE: If you go on Twitter and read what Mary Beard writes, you can see she isn’t your typical academic. She posts a lot. She doesn’t post like a stuffy academic. She calls out other academics doing bad things. She’s a delight. I don’t use Twitter, but we need more learned people like poets, authors, professors, scientists becoming involved in the public discourse.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #41 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #Books #BookReview #MaryBeard #Rome #history”,

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