The Best Books On The Roman Empire In The 2nd Half Of The 1st Century AD

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper
By Martha Marks

The Books I Picked & Why

69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors

By Gwyn Morgan

69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors

Why this book?

The Civil War of 69 AD — aka “The Year of Four Emperors” — was a complex, pivotal moment in the history of the Roman Empire. Since it took place at a key moment in my trilogy’s timeline, and since so many of my characters were active participants, I had to understand it. Morgan expertly clarifies an interrelated series of historical threads that I needed to follow to make my three-part fictional story both historically accurate and novelistically intriguing.


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Flavius ​​Josephus: Eyewitness to Rome's First-Century Conquest of Judea

By Mireille Hadas-Lebel

Flavius ​​Josephus: Eyewitness to Rome's First-Century Conquest of Judea

Why this book?

Hadas-Lebel’s fine biography brings to life one of history’s most charismatic and controversial authors, generals, and traitors. The Jewish scholar turned Roman collaborator known today as Flavius Josephus was born Yosef ben Matityahu. His evolution from Yosef the aristocrat of Jerusalem to Josephus the “Jew of Rome” is a classic truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale. As Yosef, he plays a key role in my second novel. As Josephus, he does the same in my third. So I had to internalize as much about his life, character, and personality as possible. This book gave me the level of detail that I needed to make Yosef/Josephus “real” in my own way.


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Apocalypse: The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome AD 66-73

By Neil Faulkner

Apocalypse: The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome AD 66-73

Why this book?

The empire-shaking Great Revolt looms over my second and third novels, and Faulkner’s book illuminated it for me in a way that nothing else did. He unravels the interwoven historical, social, religious, ethnic, cultural, and political conflicts that led to the disastrous Jewish rebellion against Rome. His work is controversial in some quarters because it goes against the grain of Christian thinking about this time and place. Personally, I found it revealing and eloquent. To me, this a must-read for anyone trying to understand the “why” behind the cataclysm that befell the Jewish people between 66 and 73 AD and still impacts our world today.


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Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire: A Study in Social Control

By K. R. Bradley

Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire: A Study in Social Control

Why this book?

My novels take place in several ancient Mediterranean lands where slavery was an accepted, unchallenged reality. It’s hard for today’s writers and readers to grasp what relationships must have been like between human chattel and their owners in a world totally devoid of modern mores. Some authors who write about that time period choose to ignore the slaves and focus on the masters, but I was determined to get into the minds of both groups and explore their lives equally. Bradley’s subtitle, “A Study in Social Control,” held the key for me. His book revealed the “carrots and sticks” at work in such societies and helped me bring them to life in my fiction.


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A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome's Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It

By Nathan T. Elkins

A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome's Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It

Why this book?

A large part of the last book of my trilogy focuses on one character’s involvement in the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, known today as The Colosseum. As with other complex issues I’ve written about — the Jewish Revolt, social constraints on women, relationships between masters and slaves — I’ve had to make sense of this grandest construction project of the first century. Elkins’ scholarly book helped me get out of the “tourist-in-Rome mindset” and into the “you-are-there-as-it’s-being-built mindset.” I’m currently writing that section, so the jury is still out, but Elkins’ in-depth research and clear exposition provide a good road map.


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