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Roman Books - Recommended Roman History Books

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Or choose from the books below - which include some short reviews:

Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire

Author: Simon Baker
Publisher: BBC Books
ISBN: 1846072840

Review: This book is the best selling Roman book in this section of the website. I currently have it on order. It is supposed to provide a good introduction to the Roman Empire and to be a lucid and entertaining read. It was produced to accompany the hit TV series Ancient Rome The Rise And Fall Of An Empire [DVD] [2006]. The DVD exceeds expectations and gives a great overview of key Emperors and Roman power struggles and conquests as well as reversals of the Romans. It has a large military focus and makes great entertainment but is backed by the quality which you expect from the BBC.

The Conquest of Gaul

Author: Julius Caesar
Introduction by: Jane F. Gardner
Translator: S.A. Handford

Publisher: Penguin Classics
ISBN: 0140444335

Review: This is my personal favourite. Julius Caesar is one of the most intriguing characters of the Ancient world. By conquering Gaul he effectively destroyed the Celts main power base in Europe. This is his account of the wars and intrigues of which he was master. Despite his political bias he does provide perhaps the best account of the Gauls both in the battlefield but also of their life and customs. Fantastic source material.

Comment added 10/03/07

The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History

Author: Peter Heather

Publisher: Pan Books
ISBN: 0330491369

This is a very popular title which now graces my book collection.

Some argue that it is the best book on the Roman Empire as a whole.

I'll write a review of this book in the near future. Click the image to read the numerous reviews on that site.

The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus (Classics)

Author: Cassius Dio
Introduction by: John Carter
Translator: Ian Scott-Kilvert
Publisher: Penguin Classics
ISBN: 0140444483

Augustus Caesar was the first Roman Emperor. It was Julius Caesar who named him his successor and gave him legitmacy but he had to fight for his position. His reign was a stable period internally but it saw the disastorous loses of three Roman Legions in the Teutenburg Forest in 9AD.

The author Cassius Dio is one of the most eminent Roman Historians and this work provides the most complete account of his reign. If you want the source material and a good read then you won't be sorry that you bought this book.

Comment added: 21/05/10


The Complete Roman Army

Author: Adrian Goldsworthy
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 0500051240

Review: As the title implies this book does cover all aspects of Roman Army life and it's campaigns. As well as documenting the history of the legionaries it also includes the auxiliary soldiers and the Roman Navy.

It is well illustrated on every page and is the best reference book for the Roman Army as a whole.

Comment added 10/03/07


The Agricola and The Germania

Author: Tacitus
Introduction by: H. Mattingly
H. Mattingly
Publisher: Penguin Classics
ISBN: 0140442413

Review: Tacitus is the best classical source of information relating to the British tribes and the Roman invasion of Britain. Tacitus is at times sympathetic to the British heroism and he is also critical of some Roman vices and 'so-called' civilisation. As the nephew of the Roman commander Agricola he is also biased towards him. The Agricola provides interesting insight into early Roman Britain and the Celtic tribes there. At the same time it can be frustrating that certain passages are missing or when he skips over things (perhaps deliberately) which you would like to know the answer to. It is nevertheless an absolute gem as is the Germania.

Comment added 10/03/07


Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today

Author: Sally Grainger
Publisher: Prospect Books
ISBN: 1903018447

Review: Apicius wrote the only Roman cookbook of meals and recipies which has survived to this day. As there were no measures in the original the author Sally Grainger has provided the measures which work for her. Sally often performs cooking demonstrations at the Roman Legionary Museum where I used to work and she does cook using the authentic techniques of the time but the recipes in this book can be made in the modern kitchen. I'll be trying some of them out soon as I have just received my copy.

Review updated: 07/05/10


Roman Britain: A New History

Author: Guy de la Bédoyère
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 0500051402

Review: Guy de la Bédoyère is well known from his appearances on Time Team as a Roman expert. He is both a historian and an archaeologist. He has published widely on Roman Britain.

Roman Britain (Historical Map & Guide)

Author: Ordnance Survey
Publisher: Ordnance Survey
ISBN: 0319290298

Review: A useful historical map to find the multitude of Roman sites in Britain. The map is produced in conjunction with The Royal Commission of Ancient Monuments of Wales and Scotland and English Heritage. The map is now in its fifth edition.

Comment added 10/03/07

Rome Against Caratacus - The Roman Conquest of Britain

Author: Graham Webster
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 0415239877

Review: I often refer to this book when looking at the military tactics of the Romans on campaign in Britain. Graham Webster's work is for the specialist reader who has a detailed interest in Caratacus and the Roman invasion of Britain. It is a clever and insightful book.

This is a great book for the scholar who wants to know what evidence there is for the theories proposed so that you can discern fact from theory.

Review updated: 07/05/10

Roman Battle Tactics 109BC - AD313 (Elite)

Author: Ross Cowan
Adam Hook
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 1846031842



Roman Britain: Outpost of the Empire

Author: H.H. Scullard
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
ISBN: 0500274053

Review: Scullard's book begins with an account of the British Celts before providing commentary on the Roman invasions of Britain. It examines the struggle between the native British and the Romans and examines life in romanised Britain. The book is easy to navigate and provides a vivid portrait of Roman Britain.

Comment added 10/03/07

Rome's Saxon Shore: Coastal Defenses of Roman Britain AD 250-500 (Fortress)

Author: Nic Fields
Illustrator: Donato Spedaliere

Publisher: Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 1846030943


Exploring Roman Britain

Author: Andrew McCloy
Publisher: New Holland Publishers (Uk) Ltd
ISBN: 1845372417

Review: This book provides an excellent travel guide for those wishing to explore Roman Britain. It is divided into four main sections-roads, towns, buildings, and military fortifications. Exploring Roman Britain offers fifteen day excursions throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. As well as providing interesting historical information about key Roman sites in Britain it provides all kinds of useful tourist information which brings the locale to life.

Comment added 10/03/07

Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome

Author: Apicius
Editor: Joseph Dommers Vehling

Publisher: Dover Publications
ISBN: 0486235637

Review: Apicius is our main classical source of information on Roman food and dining. He wrote A Book on Cooking which is the oldest cookbook in existence. He also wrote A Book on Sauces. He describes lavish courses of food and how to prepare them. He doesn't use precise measurements but rather expects you to have some understanding of how to cook.

Comment added 10/03/07

The Classical Cookbook

Author: Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger
Publisher: Getty Trust Publications
ISBN: 0892363940

Review: Author Sally Grainger often performs cooking demonstrations at the Roman Legionary Museum where I used to work. Many of the recipes in the book can be made today. Andrew Dalby is a historian who has published several historical books. He also contributed suggestions to my article on Roman Food in Britain.

Comment added 10/03/07

Food & Cooking in Roman Britain

Food and Cooking in Roman Britain: History and Recipes

Author: Jane Renfrew
Publisher: English Heritage
ISBN: 1850740801

Jane Renfrew's booklet is produced in association with Enlish Heritage. It has eight chapters including: Roman Banquets, The Evidence for the Foods Eaten in Roman Britain, The Techniques for Food Preperation, Cooking Equipment and Serving the Food. Probably the most popular chapter would be 'Recipes'.

The book includes 30 recipes. All of the recipes are based on those of Apicius but Jane Renfrew's book includes "much fuller details of quantities, cooking times and procedures based on contemporary practice ...".

This book provides a concise overview of Roman cooking with a British slant. It is a valuable introductory book to the subject of Roman food and the recipes can be made in the modern kitchen.

Review added: 21/07/08

Roman Cookery: Recipes & History (Cooking Through the Ages)

Author: Jane Renfrew
Publisher: English Heritage
ISBN: 1850748705


The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Author: Edward Gibbon

Publisher: Modern Library
ISBN: 0375758119

The most enduring book written about the Roman Empire in 'modern times'. This classic was actually written in the eighteenth century but it is still useful to the modern historian due to his excellent translation of source material which he used to support his theory of the downfall of the Roman Empire. 10/03/07

The Romans for Dummies

Author: Guy de la Bedoyere
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0470030771

Review: Guy de la Bedoyere is a historian, archaeologist, and Roman expert. He is well known for his appearances on TV, especially Channel 4's "Time Team".


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