Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Review: The Spartacus War

The Spartacus War
by Barry Strauss

This is a history book.  Unlike a lot of history books, this is not an information dump, but a well written analysis of a historical event that most people know about: if only because of Kirk Douglas.

The sources are scant and sometimes contradictory, but Strauss weaves his way through them to produce a informed account of the two year slave revolt.  Sometimes it's educated guesswork, but for the most part this is the true tale of Spartacus, his revolt and his death.

One of the surprises is how much the film got right.  It shouldn't come as a surprise to find out that the ending scene with everyone claiming to be Spartacus is unlikely to be true.  It may surprise you that the pirates who double-crossed Spartacus were real.  Crassus, as played by Laurence Olivier, was that cruel and Spartacus did have a woman in tow, but was unlikely to have been as simpering as Jean Simmons.

It packs a lot of information into 189 pages and, unlike a lot of history books, does not ramble on about unnecessary things.

Spartacus comes out of the story as a flawed hero and we get to see Roman Italy in a truer light than we are used to. 

All in all, a highly recommended book, and not just for people interested in Ancient history.

1 comment:

若愛若愛 said...