A brilliant and beautifully written novel in the tradition of Robert Graves' I, Claudius, Augustus is a sweeping narrative that brings vividly to life a compelling cast of historical figures through their letters, dispatches, and memoirs.
A mere 18 years of age when his uncle, Julius Caesar, is murdered, Octavius Caesar prematurely inherits rule of the Roman Republic. Surrounded by men who are jockeying for power-Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, and Mark Antony-young Octavius must work against the powerful Roman political machinations to claim his destiny as first Roman emperor.
Sprung from meticulous research and the pen of a true poet, Augustus tells the story of one man's dream to liberate a corrupt Rome from the fancy of the capriciously crooked and the wildly wealthy.
©1972 John Williams; 1995 by Nancy Williams (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Augustus is a masterpiece." (Los Angeles Times)
This is a book written in 1971 - and it shows. It would probably have been better read than listened to. I personally find letters and diary entries a rather tedious way of telling a story (there are some great exceptions, of course). Bringing in a new character writing about something no one would have written about is now way to deliver a story convincingly. I did grow on me, however and I quite enjoyed the second half of the book. This is mostly due to my fascination with the era and the characters rather than the book or the performance.
"The son of Caesar calls to you."
“One does not deceive oneself about the consequences of one's acts; one deceives oneself about the ease with which one can live with those consequences.”
― John Williams, Augustus
John Williams read some Robert Graves and said, "Yeah, I got this Roman. I can do this." I'm trying to think of equivalent historical fiction that orbits the same level of prose mastery: Norman Mailer, Robert Graves, Hilary Mantel, E. L. Doctorow and a few others belong on this very short list.
There are some writers (like Pynchon, etc) who seem to find their groove and mine that style/approach for all it is worth. Others like Williams just appear to get bored with one style, form, or approach to literature. They want to master all. John Williams who is also known for his college novel Stoner and his Western Butcher's Crossing decided to give writing an epistolary, historical novel a try. What he created is one of the greatest historical novels of all time. Probably not as good as Robert Graves (or dare I say Hilary Mantel), but damn close.
"Excellent book, weak reading"
This is one of the best Historical fiction I have ever read
Great writing, and its organization as a set of letters is brilliant.
He is trying to change his diction for the various narrators.And it sounds terrible, particularly when narrating women.
YOu should get a different narror for this wonderful book.
"An interesting introduction to Roman history"
The book is presented as a series of letters by people who know or knew Augustus constantly providing different perspectives and thoughts about a larger than life figure sometimes with the perspective of the times of the events sometimes years afterwards. It made for an interesting format. The book seemed packed with realistic details.
I cannot remember another historical fiction book with the constantly changing narrative device of Augustus.
No, but the narrator gave an impressive easy to follow performance. I was almost put off this recording by a negative review which I'm glad I ignored.
A very interesting read to introduce me to the character of Augustus Caesar. The book neither dwells long on gossip nor goes deep into battle tactics or economic theories. A good balance for me. I found he pace of the book good until the final soliloquy at the end which dragged a bit. I definitely recommend the book.
Author stitched together actual ancient documents to reveal the true story of Caesar Octavius the August. Great timeless translation. Perfect
"Wanted to finish, but the narration...."
Robin Field - No! His attempt at voice acting was terrible, with the majority a minor variation of feminine pubescent boy voices. Unbearable. I tried twice to finish because the book itself is interesting but it just left me angry both times. Drop the voice acting.
Feminine voice acting.
Read the book.
This reviewer is hard to listen to. He has a dour reading style in this book and the other I've listened to, Stoner. His reading is replete with distracting mannerisms, such as his affected snicker. His characters are so pat that they seem to return from past books to the current ones. Others may like his style, but he makes all the writing seem flat and negative; and he distracts from the story at hand.
"Wonderful multi-narrator technique"
This is beautifully written and narrated. Friends, advisors, daughter, enemies buld up layers of history and character as you wonder what Augustus himself thinks. Highly recommended.
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