Stanley Kubrick might have given Spartacus it's widespread fame, but the historical novel by Howard Fast from where it originated was perhaps even more moving, when you consider the circumstances that inspired it. Through the tension and censorship of the McCarthy Era, Fast developed this passionate story of freedom and hope in the face of oppression and slavery. Accomplished actor, Julian Elfer, gives a strong and energetic performance, bringing to life all the anguish and action of Spartacus, Crassus, and their loyal legions. Though focusing on a society that has long since disappeared, Fast's Spartacus highlights the important and timeless lesson of keeping political systems in check.
Spartacus, a fictionalization of a slave revolt in ancient Rome in 71 BC, is well known today because of the 1960 movie starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier. It was originally published in 1951 by Fast himself, after being turned down by every mainstream publisher of the day because of Fast's blacklisting for his Communist Party sympathies. The story of Spartacus, born a slave, trained as a gladiator, who led a slave revolt that was eventually put down by Crassus, was immensely popular and went on to sell millions of copies.
©1951 Howard Fast (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I was handed this novel to read almost forty years ago as a young student aged seventeen, as part of the English Literature syllabus for O Level. It was the first truly adult novel I'd read, and its fascinating time structure, it's incredible characters and its sweeping themes gripped me. My incredible lecturer, Dave Roden, showed me its power, force and beauty and I have never forgotten the significance it had for me. Several years later, I was reading English at university. I've never stopped loving books.
I came across this audiobook because I haven't, in all truth, read the book since my teens - but what a treat it was. It is beautifully read and brought the story to life in a way that text on a page doesn't do. It is exciting, touching and dramatic and transports you to a world of superficial order and justice which, you learn, exists only because of its hideous brutality. Men are tortured and butchered for the amusement of the rich - until a man stands up and fights it,
I would urge anyone and everyone to listen to it. Unmissable.
Absurdly awful. Bland prose and Marxist rhetoric combine to make an insipid story with two dimensional characters. Do yourself a favor and pass on this.
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