Beginning in 69AD, the so-called Year of the Four Emperors and spanning to 138AD, the death of Hadrian, Pax presents a narrative history of Rome at the height of its power. From the gilded capital to the barbarous realms beyond the frontier, historian Tom Holland offers a tour of the most famous episodes in Roman history.
Lucid accounts of the challenges inherent to managing this complex imperial enterprise ... Holland’s feel for the lived experience of antiquity is one of the best features of this book ... An accurate sense of the possible is critical to a great power’s success.
A lively survey ... Holland sets moral questions aside and turns his hand to what he does best: sure-footed, tight-wound historical narrative, enlivened with keen insights. He has a talent for making readers at home in the ancient world, even if they’re first-time visitors ... ne looks forward to many future deep dives with this remarkably gifted historian.
This is a book for lovers of traditional, grand sweep narrative history with a Boy’s Own flavour. There are descriptions of the army, the origins of the gladiator and the invention of concrete. The limitations of the book mirror the limitations of the material — we don’t have much of a record of a female experience, a slave experience, a Briton on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall, or a vanquished Dacian ... This is not a book for those who seek analysis, interrogation of the material, a shifting of the ways we understand the past, thinking around the implications of this template of empire. Fascinating as the book is, there were times when I longed for an argument.