Monday, April 17, 2006

Augustus : Godfather of Europe: By Richard Holland "This is the dramatic story of the provincial outsider who came to found Europe. Richard Holland brings out to the full the extraordinary, complex nature of the young and inexperienced tyro who has remained elusive."

The Sons of Caesar: Imperial Rome's First Dynasty: By Philip Matyszak "The story of one of the most colorful dynasties in history, from Caesar's rise to power in the first century BC to Nero's death in AD 68.

This engaging new study reviews the long history of the Julian and Claudian families in the Roman Republic and the social and political background of Rome. At the heart of the account are the lives of six men?Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero?men who mastered Rome and then changed it from a democracy to a personal possession. It was no easy task: Caesar and Caligula were assassinated, Nero committed suicide, and Claudius was poisoned. Only Augustus and Tiberius died natural deaths?and even that is uncertain.

The Julio-Claudian saga has a host of other intriguing characters, from Cicero, the last great statesman of the Republic, to Livia, matriarch of the Empire; the passionate Mark Antony and the scheming Sejanus; and Agrippina, mother of Nero and sister of Caligula, who probably murdered her husband and was in turn killed by her son. Set against a background of foreign wars and domestic intrigue, the story of Rome's greatest dynasty is also the story of the birth of an imperial system that shaped the Europe of today. 80 illustrations. "

Persian Fire : The First World Empire and the Battle for the West: By Tom Holland "In 480 B.C., Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece. Its success should have been a formality. For seventy years, victory?rapid, spectacular victory?had seemed the birthright of the Persian Empire. In the space of a single generation, they had swept across the Near East, shattering ancient kingdoms, storming famous cities, putting together an empire which stretched from India to the shores of the Aegean. As a result of those conquests, Xerxes ruled as the most powerful man on the planet. Yet somehow, astonishingly, against the largest expeditionary force ever assembled, the Greeks of the mainland managed to hold out. The Persians were turned back. Greece remained free. Had the Greeks been defeated in the epochal naval battle at Salamis, not only would the West have lost its first struggle for independence and survival, but it is unlikely that there would ever have been such an entity as the West at all.
Tom Holland?s brilliant new book describes the very first ?clash of Empires? between East and West. As he did in the critically praised Rubicon, he has found extraordinary parallels between the ancient world and our own. There is no other popular history that takes in the entire sweep of the Persian Wars, and no other classical historian, academic or popular, who combines scholarly rigor with novelistic depth with a worldly irony in quite the fashion that Tom Holland does."

Scheduled for release May 2006

Caesar's Legacy : Civil War and the Emergence of the Roman Empire: "Caesar's Legacy recounts the rise to power of Rome's first emperor, Augustus, by focusing on how the bloody civil wars which he and his soldiers fought transformed the lives of men and women throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond. The volume demonstrates how, during this violent period, Romans came to accept a new form of government and found ways to celebrate it in their towns and cities. It also reveals how they mourned, in literary masterpieces and stories passed onto their children, the terrible losses that accompanied the long years of fighting. "

The Religion of the Etruscans: "Devotion to religion was the distinguishing characteristic of the Etruscan people, the most powerful civilization of Italy in the Archaic period. From a very early date, Etruscan religion spread its influence into Roman society, especially with the practice of divination. The Etruscan priest Spurinna, to give a well-known example, warned Caesar to beware the Ides of March. Yet despite the importance of religion in Etruscan life, there are relatively few modern comprehensive studies of Etruscan religion, and none in English. This volume seeks to fill that deficiency by bringing together essays by leading scholars that collectively provide a state-of-the-art overview of Etruscan religion. The eight essays in this book cover all of the most important topics in Etruscan religion, including the Etruscan pantheon and the roles of the gods, the roles of priests and divinatory practices, votive rituals, liturgical literature, sacred spaces and temples, and burial and the afterlife. In addition to the essays, the book contains valuable supporting materials, including the first English translation of an Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar (which guided priests in making divinations), Greek and Latin sources about Etruscan religion (in the original language and English translation), a concordance to Etruscan inscriptions, and a glossary. Nearly 150 black and white photographs and drawings illustrate surviving Etruscan artifacts and inscriptions, as well as temple floor plans and reconstructions.

Devotion to religion was the distinguishing characteristic of the Etruscan people, the most powerful civilization of Italy in the Archaic period. From a very early date, Etruscan religion spread its influence into Roman society, especially with the practice of divination. The Etruscan priest Spurinna, to give a well-known example, warned Caesa"

The Oracle : The Lost Secrets and Hidden Messages of Ancient Delphi: Books: William J. Broad "A renegade team of scientists discovers the truth behind the Oracle of Delphi's mythical powers of second sight.

Of all the stories of life in ancient Greece, few capture the imagination as much as the Oracle of Delphi. Human mistress of the great god Apollo, the Oracle had the power to enter into ecstatic union with him and bring back his prophecies and counsel for all who came seeking answers. Residing in her temple on the sacred slopes of Mount Parnassos in central Greece, she was consulted on matters large and small. Though the air of magic that surrounds her might cast her as a legend, the Oracle did really exist-and her visions caused her to become the single most influential figure in all of ancient Greece.

Eyewitness accounts from Plutarch and others describe temple practices in astonishing detail, claiming that the Oracle, in preparing to commune with Apollo, breathed in vapors rising from the temple floor. Modern scholars have had rigorous debates about the reliability of the material, and in 1892 French archaeologists unearthed the buried temple itself. Their guide was the ancient literature, which proved to be remarkably accurate, with one glaring, baffling exception-the excavators could find no hint of a chasm beneath the temple, no evidence that the rocky ground had brought vapors of any kind. There followed nearly a century of scholarly denouncement. Critics dismissed not only reports of intoxicating fumes but the Oracle herself, claiming the evidence suggested that she and her minions were nothing but pious frauds. Then a Wesleyan geologist named Joelle deBoer and a young archaeologist, John Hale, decided to take up the question once more.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author William J. Broad tells a modern-day detective story that blends histo"

Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation

A family business prospers through a productive series of brutal consolidations and rational growth. Then the rise of an executive class that pits one egotistical senior manager against another in senseless internal conflicts eventually leads to a long line of demented CEOs, excessive expansion, and foolish diversification?and a high cost in shattered lives. In the end, a series of reverse takeovers leave the once-proud but now overextended and corrupt parent company at the mercy of the mom-and-pop operations that previously cringed at the grandeur of the corporate brand.

Enron? WorldCom? Try Rome, whose rise and fall carry a moral that lingers to this day for the managers, employees, and students of any global enterprise. Stanley Bing?whose satirical business books are as savagely funny as they are insightful?mingles business parable and cautionary tale into an ingenious, often hilarious new telling of the story of the Roman Empire.