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Rubicon

The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
Narrated by: Mark Meadows, Tom Holland
Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.5 out of 5 stars (73 ratings)

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Summary

The Roman Republic was the most remarkable state in history. What began as a small community of peasants camped among marshes and hills ended up ruling the known world. 

Rubicon paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall. It is a story of incomparable drama. 

This was the century of Julius Caesar, the gambler whose addiction to glory led him to the banks of the Rubicon, and beyond; of Cicero, whose defence of freedom would make him a byword for eloquence; of Spartacus, the slave who dared to challenge a superpower; of Cleopatra, the queen who did the same.  

Tom Holland brings to life this strange and unsettling civilisation, with its extremes of ambition and self-sacrifice, bloodshed and desire. Yet alien as it was, the Republic still holds up a mirror to us. Its citizens were obsessed by celebrity chefs, all-night dancing and exotic pets; they fought elections in law courts and were addicted to spin; they toppled foreign tyrants in the name of self-defence. 

Two thousand years may have passed, but we remain the Romans' heirs.

©2003 Tom Holland (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"The book that really held me, in fact, obsessed me, was Rubicon...This is narrative history at its best. Bloody and labyrinthine political intrigue and struggle, brilliant oratory, amazing feats of conquest and cruelty." (Ian McEwan, Books of the Year, Guardian

What listeners say about Rubicon

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Factual, accurate, dry.

Solid history but dryly written. Performance clear and crisp with even volume and tempo. Recitation as dry as the facts presented. I enjoy my history a bit more flavorful, i.e. Mary Beard or Barbara Tuchman.

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Very in-depth, without becoming dry

It has all the drama of a fictional book, but knowing they are real stories makes it actually interesting.

Oh, and Mark Meadows as narrator really sealed the deal for me.

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Great story let down by monotonous narration

The book covers much the same ground as Mary Beard's SPQR, though in somewhat greater detail. However I was constantly having to rewind and listen to a passage again because my attention wandered. I don't think this is a problem with the book but with the narration. It's not flat, but almost every sentence seems to follow a set pattern of intonation and emphasis which I found quite wearing once I latched onto it.

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Ave Caesar

This book is excellent in providing the journey from the brith of the republic, and then slowly plots the destruction of what at the time was comparable today seeing the proud petriotic american seeing his country descend into a civil war, a dictatourship, two popular uprisings, a oligarichal dictatourship, and then explodes into another civil war, then after that another dictatourship. After all that you can only imagine the desperation for it to end. All of this is compounded by excellent narration which gives life to the sheer magatude of these larger then life figures who's names still echo throughout our culteral psyche. Well worth it in my opinion.

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Great listen will check out the other Tom Holland

god this reminded me of Taita from Wilbur Smith's Egypt series.This as all Mark Meadows narrations are class,could listen to this man read all day long.Tom did a very good job and it's well researched and structured a complete short history of the very late Republic of Rome.

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Really, really interesting

Whilst this is a mammoth tome, it was truly fascinating and the lives of Romans are surprisingly familiar. With, perhaps, a touch more murder than we have today.

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Outstanding

Rubicon is the best book on Ancient Rome I have ever come across. Tom Holland is a master of historical narrative.

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Great Roman history book

Enjoyed this book. Very interesting style. The reading is a little monotone but otherwise very well done.