The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry S. Strauss (Review by Rupert C. ’23)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In painstaking detail, Strauss shines light on the political climate of 44 B.C. in this non-fiction, focusing on the motivations, tensions, and people involved in Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March. In vivid prose, he brings to life the complex networking of Roman politics–a dramatic departure from the dry and factual tone of the textbooks that I am accustomed to reading for Junior Classical League (JCL).
Strauss adeptly balances intellectual rigor with broad accessibility, managing to make pages fly by without diluting their substance. I particularly enjoyed his blend of Livian day-by-day analysis in the immediate aftermath of the assassination with more episodic construction, a technique that allows him to paint broad strokes and highlight trends while still focusing deeply on pivotal moments.
I personally would give this book a deserving 4.5./5 stars, but I do think that this book only satisfies a certain niche of non-fiction history readers and might not appeal to a more general audience. However, if you’re still reading this review, I urge you to try this book! Even though this is the first of Strauss’ works that I’ve read, Strauss has earned a place among my go-to classical historians such as Mary Beard and Patrick Hunt. I look forward to reading his other works! —Review by Rupert C. ’23
For those who enjoyed this book, Rupert has recommended SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome and Hannibal for you to check out!
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