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About The Spartacus War

An authoritative account from an expert author: The Spartacus War is the first popular history of the revolt in English.

The Spartacus War is the extraordinary story of the most famous slave rebellion in the ancient world, the fascinating true story behind a legend that has been the inspiration for novelists, filmmakers, and revolutionaries for 2,000 years. Starting with only seventy-four men, a gladiator named Spartacus incited a rebellion that threatened Rome itself. With his fellow gladiators, Spartacus built an army of 60,000 soldiers and controlled the southern Italian countryside. A charismatic leader, he used religion to win support. An ex-soldier in the Roman army, Spartacus excelled in combat. He defeated nine Roman armies and kept Rome at bay for two years before he was defeated. After his final battle, 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along Rome's main southern highway.

The Spartacus War is the dramatic and factual account of one of history's great rebellions. Spartacus was beaten by a Roman general, Crassus, who had learned how to defeat an insurgency. But the rebels were partly to blame for their failure. Their army was large and often undisciplined; the many ethnic groups within it frequently quarreled over leadership. No single leader, not even Spartacus, could keep them all in line. And when faced with a choice between escaping to freedom and looting, the rebels chose wealth over liberty, risking an eventual confrontation with Rome's most powerful forces.

The result of years of research, The Spartacus War is based not only on written documents but also on archaeological evidence, historical reconstruction, and the author's extensive travels in the Italian countryside that Spartacus once conquered.

Accolades

A Favorite Book of 2009, Books and Culture

What Others are Saying

A swift-moving, accessible chronicle of the insurgency against ancient Rome led by the charismatic slave leader Spartacus…Strauss colorfully illustrates the making of the durable Spartacus myth. Graphic, adrenaline-pumping history.
Kirkus Reviews
No one presents the military history of the ancient world with greater insight and panache than Strauss…[A] brisk, engrossing account.
Publishers Weekly
His efforts to portray the political and social milieu of Italy during the late Republic are superbly done. Strauss sees Spartacus as a brave and charismatic leader who was limited by some personal shortcomings.
Booklist
With his trademarks of extensive knowledge, insights and great story-telling ability, Barry Strauss brings us as close as we can get to the enigmatic Spartacus, the slave who defied the Roman Republic.
Adrian Goldsworthy, author of Caesar: Life of a Colossus
The great slave revolt of the gladiator Spartacus shook the Roman world of the first-century BC as much as it fascinates us still two millennia later. The classicist and stylist Barry Strauss explains why all that is so in a narrative that is as engaging to read as it is thoroughly researched.
Victor Davis Hanson, Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow, Classics/Military History, the Hoover Institution
The long track of history—especially ancient history—is marred by potholes and chasms of the unknown and unknowable. No contemporary historian bridges these gaps better than Barry Strauss. He does not leap across them so much as build elegant spans of logic, of the likely and the possible. His raw materials are an immense knowledge base, wit and humor, and a welcome sense for brevity. Spartacus comes alive.
David L. Robbins, author of War of the Rats and The Assassins Gallery