Simon & Shuster publishing company has announced the release of “Julius Caesar,” the latest book by Philip Freeman, professor of classics at Luther College. Freeman’s fascinating biography of the Western world’s best-known military-political leader is now available in bookstores nationwide and at all popular Web site book vendors.
Freeman’s “Julius Caesar” is listed as a main selection by both the Book of the Month Club and the History Book Club and has received critical praise in Kirkus Reviews as a “fresh look at one of history's most dynamic and controversial figures.”
In a Publishers Weekly review historian and author Anthony Everitt wrote, “Freeman's cultural and historical knowledge bring the emperor to life and humanize him in a way no writer before him has succeeded in doing… The scholar will find much to admire in this book, but, better still, the newcomer to ancient Rome will turn its pages with excitement, enlightenment – and sheer narrative suspense.”
Freeman’s new book received a favorable review in Booklist and has been lauded by internationally known historians including Paul Cartledge, author of “The Spartans” and “Alexander the Great” and professor of Greek history at the University of Cambridge; Barry Strauss, author of “The Trojan War” and professor of history and classics and Cornell University; and Jeff Sypeck, author of “Becoming Charlemagne.”
Freeman holds the Orlando W. Qualley Chair of Classical Languages at Luther College. An internationally recognized specialist in Greek, Roman, medieval culture and Celtic studies, he is the author of “The Philosopher and the Druids” (Simon & Schuster, 2006); “St. Patrick of Ireland” (Simon & Schuster, 2004); “War, Women, and Druids” (University of Texas Press, 2002); “The Galatian Language” (Mellen Press, 2001); and “Ireland and the Classical World” (University of Texas Press, 2001).
Before joining the classics department at Luther, Freeman taught at Boston University and Washington University. He has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Divinity School, the American Academy in Rome, and the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.
A frequent speaker and presenter. Freeman has given talks on the ancient world at the Smithsonian Institution and interviews on National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Television.
Freeman’s “Julius Caesar” is a compelling account of the great achievements – and a look at the day to-today life – of one of the greatest heroes, or greatest villains, of history.
Modern scholars have been divided concerning Caesar's legacy. Some have seen him as a paradigm of the just ruler, but in the wake of 20th century dictators and devastating wars, other historians have turned a cold eye on a man who caused the death of so many and established the rule of emperors over elected magistrates.
“In my biography, however, I strive not to praise Caesar overmuch or bury him among the tyrants of history,” writes Freeman. “Caesar was a complex man of incredible courage, ambition, honor, and vanity, as well as one of the greatest generals the world has ever known. But he was also a masterful politician, priest, lawyer, and writer, who among his many lesser-known accomplishments gave us the calendar we still use today.”
Freeman’s “Julius Caesar” follows the Roman leader from his childhood in the slums of Rome to his military victories throughout the Roman world and murder on the Ides of March. He introduces a host of characters who shaped Caesar’s life, from his mother Aurelia to Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Cicero, and Cleopatra.
The book is especially fascinating for the general reader because of Freeman’s skill at weaving the background story of the late Roman Republic, from the slave rebellion of Spartacus to the luxurious world of Ptolemaic Egypt to the arenas of the gladiators and chariot races.
Freeman ventures educated guesses about Caesar's early schooling and training to help readers understand the making of a man singularly bent on attaining greatness. The young Caesar who emerges was possessed of immense ambition, intellect and courage that drove his every action. Freeman frames any judgments of Caesar in the context of the hard life of the Roman era, when a reputation for mercy could be gained by cutting a man's throat before his crucifixion.
Caesar combined an instinct for political manipulation with legendary oratorical skills and shrewd promotion of his battlefield victories to cultivate an aura of military genius and divine destiny. He survived political chaos and civil wars in the first century Roman republic, maneuvered himself into the halls of power, made himself enormously wealthy, crushed the barbarian enemies of Rome, and overpowered political opponents to enact government reforms that laid the basis for the Roman imperium.
A champion of the plebian classes when it served his designs, Caesar frequently challenged the political, social and economic status of powerful vested interests in Rome, which ultimately led to his murder. With much to compare to current national and international travails of empire and republic, Freeman’s “Julius Caesar” is not only an educational but also an entertaining book.