The Best Books On Parthia And The War with Rome In The 1st Century BCE

By Andrew Levkoff

The Books I Picked & Why

The King Must Die

By Mary Renault

The King Must Die

Why this book?

This is the book that began my passion for writing historical fiction. Published in 1958, I read it in my early teens and became hooked on modern interpretations of ancient stories. This is no dry retelling of the legend of Theseus, early king of Athens, slayer of the dread Minotaur, but a fully formed relatable character who learns, grows, and conquers. I like to think that Renault was peering over my shoulder to inform my own writing.


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The Life Of Crassus (Plutarch's Lives)

By Plutarch

The Life Of Crassus (Plutarch's Lives)

Why this book?

This is as close to the horse’s mouth as we can get, yet it’s still a hundred years after the events of Republican Rome’s demise. Remember the Viet Nam war? It was one of America’s great foreign policy failures. Rome hated failure like a teenager hates acne. Cover it up, deny it, erase it. That is what Plutarch does in this work. I think it speaks to Crassus' towering achievements that Plutarch has anything nice to say about him at all!


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Caesar's Women

By Colleen McCullough

Caesar's Women

Why this book?

Here is a spellbinding history of life toward the end of the Roman republic, so broad in scope, so detailed in its analysis, it is a wonder of exhaustive research distilled into one thrilling narrative after another. McCullough is a must for any lover of antiquity.


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The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy: Or, the Geography, History, & Antiquities of Parthia

By George Rawlinson

The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy: Or, the Geography, History, & Antiquities of Parthia

Why this book?

Although this book was first published in 1873, it remains one of the foundations of research on the Parthian Empire. Why do I include it among these more modern works? Here’s an excerpt:

"Of the thirty sons who still remained to Orodes, king of Parthia, [he] selected as his successor Phraates, the eldest of the thirty. Orodes proceeded further to abdicate in his favour, whereupon Phraates became king. Phraates, jealous of some of his brothers, removed them by assassination, and when the ex-monarch ventured to express disapproval, added the crime of parricide to fratricide by putting to death his aged father."

The book is full of astounding little gems like this. That’s why. It is a fascinating exploration of one of the great, but few understood empires of the ancient world.


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Defeat of Rome in the East: Crassus, the Parthians, and the Disastrous Battle of Carrhae, 53 BC

By Gareth C. Sampson

Defeat of Rome in the East: Crassus, the Parthians, and the Disastrous Battle of Carrhae, 53 BC

Why this book?

I purchased this book in 2008, while I was researching The Other Alexander. However, I refused to open it until I had completed my own research over a year later. I did not want it to color my own work surrounding the history of Marcus Crassus. Why do I love it? Because here was a scholar with far more credentials than I who, it turns out, agreed with the premise of my own novels.


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