About Ten Caesars
Bestselling classical historian Barry Strauss tells the story of three and a half centuries of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten of the most important emperors, from Augustus to Constantine.
The grandeur and the decadence, the cunning and the brutality, the surprising prominence of imperial women in a man’s world, and the practical wisdom that allowed Rome to maintain its rule over millions for centuries before finally losing its grip in the West: it’s all there in one book.
Simon & Schuster has published a brief video about the book as a part of their ‘History in Five’ series.
During these centuries Rome gained in splendor and territory, then lost both. The empire reached from modern-day Britain to Iraq, and gradually emperors came not from the old families of the first century but from men born in the provinces, some of whom had never even seen Rome. By the fourth century, the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire had changed so dramatically in geography, ethnicity, religion, and culture that it would have been virtually unrecognizable to Augustus.
In the imperial era Roman women—mothers, wives, mistresses—had substantial influence over the emperors, and Strauss also profiles the most important among them, from Livia, Augustus’s wife, to Helena, Constantine’s mother. But even women in the imperial family faced limits and the emperors often forced them to marry or divorce for purely political reasons.
Rome’s legacy remains today in so many ways, from language, law, and architecture to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Strauss examines this enduring heritage through the lives of the men who shaped it: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian and Constantine. Over the ages, they learned to maintain the family business—the government of an empire—by adapting when necessary and always persevering no matter the cost. Ten Caesars is essential history as well as fascinating biography.
“An exceptionally accessible history of the Roman Empire. . . . Much of TEN CAESARS reads like a script for Game of Thrones. . . .This superb summation of four centuries of Roman history, a masterpiece of compression, confirms Barry Strauss as the foremost academic classicist writing for the general reader today.”
—Andrew Roberts, The Wall Street Journal
“To cover 360-odd years in a similar number of pages means going at quite a lick. . . .The strength of this approach is that it offers perspective. All too often books on Rome, like literary grand tourists, revisit the familiar sites, lingering over the naughty Neros, the effective armies and the efficient bureaucracy. But, as Strauss shows, Rome was far more complex and far more interesting than that. . . . Enlightening.”
—Catherine Nixey, The New York Times Book Review
“The term ‘good read’ is too often, even promiscuously, applied to new books. But the Ten Caesars is more than worthy of the term. Both classics scholars and armchair historians will find it rewarding. It is, truly, a good read.”
–Chris Timmers, Washington Examiner
“Strauss has mastered a vivid narrative line, a practiced skill at demystifying the past… Readers will learn a lot from his book and the fables will make the lessons a bit sweeter along the way.”
—Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor
“Stepping into the shoes of a god isn’t easy, as historian Barry Strauss makes dramatically clear in a new book that traces the biographies of 10 of the men who succeeded Julius Caesar, deified by the Roman Senate. But megalomania may have been an asset as well as the defining characteristic of Rome’s emperors,”
–Linda Glaser, Cornell Chronicle
Traveling to Europe on Spring Break? “Get some insight into that ruin you’re looking at with Strauss’s history page-turner, which brings to life Rome’s rulers.”
–Amy Alipio, National Geographic
“Ten Caesars, subtitled Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine, gives to its reader a good idea of just how horrid the classical world was even at its best. … Strauss’s book often reads more like an account of battles for control of a mafia than a work about the politics of a viable state.”
–James Barasel, Catholic Herald
“Citing numerous primary and secondary sources and providing modern analogies to convey complex relationships and ruling styles, this captivating narrative breathes new life into a host of transformative figures.”
“Lively biographies of the 10 best-known emperors of Rome.”
“No one knows the secrets, the curses, the power and the glory of the Imperial families of Rome better than Barry Strauss. His Ten Caesars is captivating—essential reading for Romanophiles and for everyone who seeks to understand the most formidable personalities of the Roman Empire.”
—Adrienne Mayor, author of The Amazons and The Poison King
“In a single volume, Barry Strauss delivers the near-impossible: a straightforward, factual, insightful survey of the vast and turbulent history of Rome’s emperors from Augustus to Constantine. Any reader, from novice to expert, will arrive at the final page with a clearer understanding of the men (and sometimes women) who oversaw the shifting fortunes of Rome for over three hundred years.”
—Steven Saylor, author of The Throne of Caesar and the New York Times bestseller Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome
“’Ten Caesars’ is very readable and anyone with an interest in Roman history will find it enjoyable reading that summarizes effectively a fascinating period of time.”
-Richard Weigel, Bowling Green Daily News
“Ten Caesars is an excellent and eminently readable introduction to this era, but it will also reward those who already have an interest in Roman history by making them think again about the characters of these rulers and the men and women around them.”
– Adrian Goldsworthy, The New Criterion
“I highly recommend Barry Strauss’ Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine. The style of writing is both informative and engaging, erudite and captivating.”
– Will Hart Brown, Ancient History Encyclopedia
–Barbara Oakley, PhD, Recommendations
“You’d be unlikely to find a more trustworthy, captivating account of the empire than what Mr. Strauss provides us with here; you can tell that it’s all meticulously researched.”
– Lou at avidreadersretreat.blogspot.com
“A wild, thoroughly enjoyable ride through four centuries of imperial rule.”
– Bob Duffy, Washington Independent Review of Books
“Get a copy of Strauss’s book and find out how he sifts the evidence. …there’s a very good chance … that you’ll wind up talking with friends about it in coming weeks. And that’s a very strong endorsement for any new book.”
– David Crumm, Readthespirit.com
“Astounding to think that these are real people: you couldn’t make up these characters. … manages to give an overview of more than 300 years of one of the most successful & important empires the world has ever known. Read this & feel like a Roman expert. Highly recommended.”
– A.J. Sefton, Book Blog
“I highly enjoyed Ten Caesars by Barry S. Strauss. … I almost couldn’t stop reading it. I’ll even go as far to say that it’s one of my favorite books of 2019 so far, especially in the nonfiction genre. … it was just a great book that was really enjoyable.”