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Julius Caesar
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  Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

The character and exploits of Gaius Julius Caesar continue to fascinate both historians and laymen, with good reason. His military conquest of Gaul spread Roman civilization beyond the confines of the Mediterranean Basin. His political reforms laid the basis for the imperium established by Augustus. His personal story is loaded with drama and adventure. Freeman, a classics professor at Luther College, has written a compact but thorough account of the life and achievements of this historical giant. He traces Caesar's family background, his patrician upbringing, and his early public career as he strove to survive in the tumult of the political chaos and civil wars that plagued the republic in the first century BCE. As Caesar's political career advanced, he became, Freeman argues, a consummate manipulator who was prepared to take huge risks by reaching out to the plebeian class. This bold and sometimes reckless approach is even more evident in his military campaigns. Ultimately, as Freeman indicates, his willingness to challenge powerful vested interests led directly to his murder. This is a fine biography best suited for general readers.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

A fresh look at one of history's most dynamic and controversial figures. He intends neither to bury nor overly praise Caesar (100-44 BCE), states Freeman (Classics/Luther College; The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts, 2006, etc.), simply to set forth his life and times as ancient Rome's most celebrated yet often reviled leading citizen. The recovered works of Suetonius, Caesar's first biographer, do not cover his childhood in an aristocratic family lacking both influence and wealth. Freeman's willingness to venture educated guesses--clearly labeled as such--on Caesar's early schooling and training significantly help readers apprehend a human will singularly bent on destiny. The young Caesar who emerges here seems strikingly modern. Ambition and intellect drove every action; his courage was obvious, though frequently calculated for maximum effect. Freeman stresses that while he had the audacity to challenge more senior politicians and sometimes the entire Senate, Caesar always stayed on message when courting public sentiment. He combined a striking instinct for political power with palpable oratorical mojo, and he added the ability to cultivate an aura of military genius, sending elaborate dispatches from the battlefield that were publicly read aloud in Rome--to the disgust of his hapless political foes. Abstaining from moralizing, Freeman frames any judgments of Caesar in the context of his own time, when a reputation for clemency could be gained by cutting a man's throat before his crucifixion. Caesar made himself enormously wealthy at the expense of both his enemies (selling slaves in victory) and the Roman provincial administration, the author notes, and as the Ides of March approached a man with every reason to believe no one in his world could refuse him was about to meet those who would. Scholarly and contextually rich, yet accessible and reasonably succinct. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
"More than two thousand years after his death, Julius Caesar remains one of the great figures of history. He shaped Rome for generations, and his name became a synonym for "emperor" - not only in Rome but as far away as Germany and Russia. He is best known as the general who defeated the Gauls and doubled the size of Rome's territories. But, as Philip Freeman describes in this fascinating new biography, Caesar was also a brilliant orator, an accomplished writer, a skilled politician, and much more." "In this biography, Freeman presents Caesar in all his dimensions and contradictions. With remarkable clarity and brevity, Freeman shows how Caesar dominated a newly powerful Rome and shaped its destiny. This book will captivate readers discovering Caesar and ancient Rome for the first time as well as those who have a deep interest in the classical world."--BOOK JACKET.
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