On the Spartacus Road: A Spectacular Journey through Ancient Italy

Peter Stothard

On the Spartacus Road: A Spectacular Journey through Ancient Italy

In the final century of the first Roman Republic an army of slaves brought a peculiar terror to the people of Italy. Its leaders were gladiators. Its purpose was incomprehensible. Its success was something no one before had ever known. The Spartacus Road is the route along which this rebel army outfought the Roman legions between 73 and 71BC, bringing both fears and hopes that have never wholly left the modern mind. It is a road that stretches through 2,000 miles of Italian countryside and out into 2,000 years of world history. Former editor of The Times, Sir Peter Stothard, re-traced the journey taken by Spartacus and his army of rebels. The resulting book is at once a journalist's notebook, a classicist's celebration, a survivor's record of a near fatal cancer and the history of a unique and brutal war. 4.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
On the Spartacus Road: A Spectacular Journey through Ancient Italy

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History, Travel
Format Hardback
Pages 368
RRP £18.99
Date of Publication January 2010
ISBN 978-0007340781
Publisher HarperPress
 

In the final century of the first Roman Republic an army of slaves brought a peculiar terror to the people of Italy. Its leaders were gladiators. Its purpose was incomprehensible. Its success was something no one before had ever known. The Spartacus Road is the route along which this rebel army outfought the Roman legions between 73 and 71BC, bringing both fears and hopes that have never wholly left the modern mind. It is a road that stretches through 2,000 miles of Italian countryside and out into 2,000 years of world history. Former editor of The Times, Sir Peter Stothard, re-traced the journey taken by Spartacus and his army of rebels. The resulting book is at once a journalist's notebook, a classicist's celebration, a survivor's record of a near fatal cancer and the history of a unique and brutal war.

Reviews

The Literary Review

Christopher Hart

In some ways On the Spartacus Road is reminiscent of the writing of W G Sebald (though it’s a lot less annoying): beautifully written, musing and tangential, subjective and far-sighted, dense, demanding and allusive… [An] extraordinary book

01/01/2010

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The Scotsman

Tom Adair

His is a journey to be relished… [Stothard] is relaxed, amused, observant, and refreshingly unstuffy.

16/01/2010

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The Spectator

Tom Holland

The life that he gives us of Spartacus is indeed, on one level, a ‘story’: one complete with breakouts, battles, and the pecking of eyeballs by hungry crows. Yet it is also, proudly and defiantly, the very opposite of journalism: a fusion of memoir, history and travelogue that is unlike any other book ever written about Spartacus, and all the more precious for being quite so unexpected.

20/01/2010

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The Daily Telegraph

Christopher Howse

His publishers have served him ill with indecipherable maps and his asides are not, like Horace’s, so much on food and sex (though there is a misunderstanding in a video shop where Spartacus is better known as the brand of a gay travel guide) as on death. Indeed this may be taken as the principal theme... There are memorable details.

23/01/2010

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The Times

Natalie Haynes

[An] intriguing book… Stothard, editor of the TLS, is less interested in the bald facts of Spartacus’s story (wisely, given how few and disputed they are). A description of Spartacus’s initial escape from the gladiatorial training school doesn’t even appear until page 90. Rather, Stothard’s real passion is for the process of thinking about Spartacus, both for the Ancients and for us.

23/01/2010

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