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Rome: Republic into Empire (Hardback)

The Civil Wars of the First Century BCE

Ancient History Rome

By Paul Chrystal
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 243
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781526710093
Published: 20th February 2019

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£25.00


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As featured in The Bookseller, October 2018

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Rome: Republic into Empire looks at the political and social reasons why Rome repeatedly descended into civil war in the early 1st century BCE and why these conflicts continued for most of the century; it describes and examines the protagonists, their military skills, their political aims and the battles they fought and lost; it discusses the consequences of each battle and how the final conflict led to a seismic change in the Roman political system with the establishment of an autocratic empire.

This is not just another arid chronological list of battles, their winners and their losers. Using a wide range of literary and archaeological evidence, Paul Chrystal offers a rare insight into the wars, battles and politics of this most turbulent and consequential of ancient world centuries; in so doing, it gives us an eloquent and exciting political, military and social history of ancient Rome during one of its most cataclysmic and crucial periods, explaining why and how the civil wars led to the establishment of one of the greatest empires the world has known.

The Roman Republic lasted from 510 BC until 49 BC when Caesar crossed the Rubicon into Italy in defiance of everybody and marched on Rome. Chrystal's book looks at social and political issues describes all of the protagonists, their military and political skills, the battles they fought and lost as well as the consequences of their actions. It is more than a chronology or a list of battles but is as complete a picture of Roman society as ever presented. there was no lack of leadership during this time - perhaps there were too many capable leaders. All were intelligent charismatic, courageous and ambitious and apt to fight and destroy one another. This includes women and the roles they played in society in a thorough discussion.
This is a very readable narrative complimented with extensive notes, a good index, great maps and an adequate bibliography. Recommended for those with an interest in this period.

The Past In Review, David Lee Poremba

Acknowledged in author article 'Rome's Civil War' as featured by

All About History, issue 82

Featured as competition prize

24seven Lifestyle Magazine, August 2019

A praise also to the choice of iconographic sources that I particularly appreciated. A book of great value.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

Rome: Republic into Empire offers readers a readable narrative, informative notes, a good index, maps and bibliography. The illustrations, chosen from the art of several centuries, are of absorbing interest. I liked a fifteenth century illustration of Julius Caesar's murder, showing Caesar as a medieval Holy Roman Emperor wearing a crown and purple robe, while Brutus and Cassius are stiletto-wielding fifteenth-century dandies in brightly-coloured jerkins and tights. I could go on praising this book, but I shall stop here: buy it and enjoy it for yourself.

Read the full review here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

As featured 'ON THE BOOK SHELF'

Wargames Illustrated, January 2019

As featured by

The Bookseller 5/10/18

A good narrative account of the period that saw the transformation of Rome from democratic republic to Empire. It demonstrates how ‘democracy’ was a thin disguise for the greed and ambition of the few for which the many paid with lives and destitution and that the advent of ‘Empire’ was a formalisation of the same but with the winners clearly identified. It echoes with modern parallels; the redistribution of land to war veterans in Zimbabwe and other places in Africa; the consolidation of power amongst the few, the adjustment of political convention to gain advantage and perhaps most of all a need to revalue the ubiquitous use of the word ‘uncertainty’ in modern politics.
These were truly uncertain times. Lives blighted by civil wars and the problems of those wars bringing destitution to the rural poor. The consequences of choosing the wrong/losing side and perhaps not having the benefit of a choice. The close web of political marriages that could in an instant see family members proscribed and even more ardent opponents created from the outcome.
The only criticism is that the narrative would have benefited from better maps, particularly as the reader often needs to look up the modern equivalent of the names of cities and regions.
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 Paul Chrystal

About Paul Chrystal

Paul Chrystal has classics degrees from the Universities of Hull and Southampton; he is the author of 100 or so books, a number of which are about confectionery and beverages. 


He has written features on aspects of the history of food and drink for the Daily Express and he has appeared on the BBC World Service, Radio 4’s PM programme and various BBC local radio stations talking on a wide range of subjects, but notably confectionery. Paul has also contributed to a six-part series for BBC2 ‘celebrating the history of some of Britain’s most iconic craft industries’ – in this case chocolate in York. He has been history advisor for a number of York tourist attractions relating to chocolate. He is editor of York Historian, the journal of the Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society. In 2019 he was also guest speaker for the Vassar College (New York) London Programme with Goldsmith University.

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