100 books like A Brief History of the Romans

By Noel Lenski, Richard J.A. Talbert, Mary T. Boatwright , Daniel J. Gargola

Here are 100 books that A Brief History of the Romans fans have personally recommended if you like A Brief History of the Romans. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of From the Gracchi to Nero

Duane W. Roller Author Of Empire of the Black Sea: The Rise and Fall of the Mithridatic World

From my list on ancient Rome from an archaeologist and historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent 50 years studying, teaching, and writing about Roman history, participating in and leading many archaeological expeditions to the Roman world, particularly in Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the Levant. I have written a dozen books on the ancient world, including the best-selling Cleopatra: A Biography. Ancient Rome is both my expertise and passion.

Duane's book list on ancient Rome from an archaeologist and historian

Duane W. Roller Why did Duane love this book?

This is a focused survey of the most fascinating period in Rome's history, when the ancient Republic evolved into an empire: the era of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and the emperors Augustus, Nero, and others. During this period Rome's expansion meant major internal changes and a century of instability, and I know of no better book that explains why and how this happened.

By H.H. Scullard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Gracchi to Nero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Gracchi to Nero is an outstanding history of the Roman world from 133 BC to 68 AD. Fifty years since publication it is widely hailed as the classic survey of the period, going through many revised and updated editions until H.H. Scullard's death. It explores the decline and fall of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Pax Romana under the early Principate. In superbly clear style, Scullard brings vividly to life the Gracchi's attempts at reform, the rise and fall of Marius and Sulla, Pompey and Caesar, society and culture in the late Roman Republic, the…


Book cover of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Lilith Saintcrow Author Of A Flame in the North

From my list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like any writer, I’m fascinated with what makes people tick and why they act the way they do. Naturally, this means I read a lot of history. I love reference reading; I love researching arcane questions for a tiny detail that will bring a character or their world to life. Creating epic fantasy is an extension of both my drives as a reader and a writer. Pouring myself into characters who inhabit different settings is a deeply satisfying exercise in both craft and empathy, and each history book has some small bit I can use to make my settings more compelling, more enjoyable for readers, and more real.

Lilith's book list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy

Lilith Saintcrow Why did Lilith love this book?

I was in love the moment I opened an abridged version of Gibbon’s magnum opus as a young history buff, and was even more delighted when I sought out the multivolume full experience.

Gibbon’s view of the Roman Empire is magisterial and his footnotes are a cranky delight; he’s up-front when his sources have axes to grind and sourly suspicious of his own motivations.

Sure, he’s an 18th-century British colonialist with all that entails. He’s also deliciously ironic, hilariously sardonic, and does his mightiest justice when he’s skewering folly and tyranny of any stripe.

By Edward Gibbon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spanning thirteen centuries from the age of Trajan to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, DECLINE & FALL is one of the greatest narratives in European Literature. David Womersley's masterly selection and bridging commentary enables the readerto acquire a general sense of the progress and argument of the whole work and displays the full variety of Gibbon's achievement.


Book cover of The Art of Rome

Duane W. Roller Author Of Empire of the Black Sea: The Rise and Fall of the Mithridatic World

From my list on ancient Rome from an archaeologist and historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent 50 years studying, teaching, and writing about Roman history, participating in and leading many archaeological expeditions to the Roman world, particularly in Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the Levant. I have written a dozen books on the ancient world, including the best-selling Cleopatra: A Biography. Ancient Rome is both my expertise and passion.

Duane's book list on ancient Rome from an archaeologist and historian

Duane W. Roller Why did Duane love this book?

This is a lavishly illustrated work showing the major pieces of Roman art, an important component of their ideology and self image. It explains how the Romans built on the Greek tradition of art and architecture and created their own artistic world, much of which is still with us today.

By Bernard Andreae,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Text: English, German (translation)


Book cover of I, Claudius

Fiona Forsyth Author Of Rome's End

From my list on political shenanigans in ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I stumbled through the “Early Roman Empire” paper in Finals using I, Claudius by Robert Graves, I have held a deep admiration of those authors who can portray the complex world of Rome with such authority. I went on to teach the Greeks and Romans for 25 years, so I have grown to love these characters—Caesar is a philandering schemer, Augustus has ice for blood, Livia is a skilled practitioner of poisons… How can one resist such entertaining people who operate in a system where the upper classes must compete through bribery, intrigue and occasional revolutions? 

Fiona's book list on political shenanigans in ancient Rome

Fiona Forsyth Why did Fiona love this book?

This is the masterclass in the portrayal of the first hundred years or so of the Roman Empire. Graves was a considerable scholar in his own right, providing the translation for the Penguin edition of Suetonius’ “Twelve Caesars”. He was also a poet and novelist, and his picture of the naïve Claudius making his unwitting way to power is probably on most people’s list of all-time great historical novels. What I particularly found striking was just how much work went into running the Roman empire, and one almost has sympathy for Augustus as he tries to mould Roman rule into something that is efficient and fair. The BBC adaptation, in my opinion, did a good job: Sian Phillips as Livia is a complete joy.

By Robert Graves,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked I, Claudius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A work of historical fiction which recreates the life and times of Emperor Claudius, who lived from 10 BC to AD 41, a time when poisoning, blasphemy, treachery, incest and unnatural vice were commonplace. From the author of CLAUDIUS THE GOD AND HIS WIFE MESSALINA.


Book cover of Rome: A History in Seven Sackings

JD McKelvin Author Of These Cruel Watchers

From my list on exploring your inner darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I learned that I was able to lucid dream at will, speaking to the beings I met in these places I’d never seen before, and it always gave me a sense of interconnectedness. A thread that goes through all of us and our histories. I believe that the ancients dedicated so much of their energy and resources to preserving their stories in order to maintain this connection because it’s so important. Inside all of us is a darkness that, if left unchecked would lead us to ruin. These books all demonstrate the inner struggle we have to understand and redirect that darkness toward the light and the good. 

JD's book list on exploring your inner darkness

JD McKelvin Why did JD love this book?

I find myself struggling with the impulse to see the great empires as superhumans or so different from me that I could never understand how they live as they do.

This book reminded me that my fears and selfish desires aren’t so different from those of the Romans. I see signs of their impact in my everyday life, and I constantly wonder what life was like for Romans who never would have thought that people like me would be studying them centuries later. This book takes me into the mindset of people living in constant threat of annihilation and how it may impact my view of humanity. 

By Matthew Kneale,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Science of Roman History: Biology, Climate, and the Future of the Past

Greg Woolf Author Of Rome: An Empire's Story

From my list on new books about the Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an historian and archaeologist of the Roman world, who has lectured on the subject around the world. This summer I am moving from a position in London to one in Los Angeles. One of the attractions of Roman history is that it is a vast subject spanning three continents and more than a thousand years. There is always something new to discover and a great international community of researchers working together to do just that. It is a huge privilege to be part of that community and to try and communicate some its work to the widest audience possible.

Greg's book list on new books about the Roman Empire

Greg Woolf Why did Greg love this book?

Already when I was writing the first edition of Rome. An Empire’s Story it was clear that the subject was being transformed by scientific discoveries. Over the last decade, science-led projects have changed our notions of ancient Roman nutrition and health, of Romans’ impact on the environment, on the animals and plants they farmed, and also of their own vulnerability to plague and climate change. Scheidel, who is a world leader in this field, has gathered together historians using everything from human DNA and skeletal material to the remains of ancient seeds and animals to explain how the life sciences can unlock whole new areas of ancient history. This is a fast-moving field, and this short book gives a crash course on what has been done to date, and what might come next.

By Walter Scheidel (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Science of Roman History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How the latest cutting-edge science offers a fuller picture of life in Rome and antiquity

This groundbreaking book provides the first comprehensive look at how the latest advances in the sciences are transforming our understanding of ancient Roman history. Walter Scheidel brings together leading historians, anthropologists, and geneticists at the cutting edge of their fields, who explore novel types of evidence that enable us to reconstruct the realities of life in the Roman world.

Contributors discuss climate change and its impact on Roman history, and then cover botanical and animal remains, which cast new light on agricultural and dietary practices.…


Book cover of The Atlas of Ancient Rome: Biography and Portraits of the City - Two-Volume Slipcased Set

Ray Laurence Author Of The Roads of Roman Italy: Mobility and Cultural Change

From my list on the archaeology of Roman Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in London and became interested in history from multiple visits to the British Museum and the Museum of London, but it was on an undergraduate trip to Pompeii that I realized that I was capable of explaining archaeological remains. That realization led me back to Pompeii and then Rome, but also to tracking down the archaeology of Roman roads. Writing has become important to me, perhaps, because I’m dyslexic and I’ve had some struggles to write in the past. Yet, as a dyslexic professor, working at Macquarie University (Sydney), I think I can offer students and readers explanations of history that reflect my ongoing passion for studying the past.  

Ray's book list on the archaeology of Roman Italy

Ray Laurence Why did Ray love this book?

In two volumes, this is quite simply one of the most beautiful books I own. Much more than an atlas of maps, it includes illustrations of archaeological evidence from across the city and is full of reconstruction drawings. It is a book to simply lose yourself in and spend time browsing through the pages that set out the city of Rome. The overlaying of the ancient buildings from Rome onto the modern street grid, also allows for the reader to see how those ancient buildings, such as the Theatre of Pompey, continue to shape the streetscape of the city of Rome.

By Andrea Carandini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Atlas of Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Atlas of Ancient Rome provides a comprehensive archaeological survey of the city of Rome from prehistory to the early medieval period. Lavishly illustrated throughout with full-color maps, drawings, photos, and 3D reconstructions, this magnificent two-volume slipcased edition features the latest discoveries and scholarship, with new descriptions of more than 500 monuments, including the Sanctuary of Vesta, the domus Augusti, and the Mausoleum of Augustus. It is destined to become the standard reference for scholars, students, and anyone interested in the history of the city of Rome. The Atlas of Ancient Rome is monumental in scope. It examines the city's…


Book cover of Destinations in Mind: Portraying Places on the Roman Empire's Souvenirs

Maggie L. Popkin Author Of Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome

From my list on travel and leisure in ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love exploring new places, buildings, and artworks. Luckily, my job, as a professor of ancient Roman art history at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, allows me to do so! I am fascinated by the material culture of the Roman Empire and the ways in which buildings and objects—whether grand monuments like the Pantheon in Rome or humbler items like a terracotta figurine of a gladiator—shape how we experience the world and relate to other people. Whether I am living in Paris or Rome, excavating in Greece or Italy, or traveling elsewhere in the former lands of the Roman Empire, these topics are never far from my mind.

Maggie's book list on travel and leisure in ancient Rome

Maggie L. Popkin Why did Maggie love this book?

Although we often dismiss souvenirs as kitsch, they can be deeply meaningful to people, both today and in antiquity. Taking a phenomenological approach to ancient Roman souvenirs of places, Kimberly Cassibry shows how people would have held, used, and interacted with small objects showing seaside resort towns on the Bay of Naples, the Circus Maximus in Rome, Hadrian’s Wall in Britain, and the western empire’s network of imperial roads. Her book taught me just how large makers and materials loom in how places came to be represented and conceptualized in Roman antiquity. I love that Cassibry forces me to think anew about my own travel souvenirs and how I interact with them to make meaning of places my loved ones or I have visited. 

By Kimberly Cassibry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Destinations in Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Destinations in Mind, Kimberly Cassibry asks how objects depicting different sites helped Romans understand their vast empire. At a time when many cities were written about but only a few were represented in art, four distinct sets of artifacts circulated new information. Engraved silver cups list all the stops from Spanish Cadiz to Rome, while resembling the milestones that helped travelers track their progress. Vivid glass cups represent famous
charioteers and gladiators competing in circuses and amphitheaters, and offered virtual experiences of spectacles that were new to many regions. Bronze bowls commemorate forts along Hadrian's Wall with colorful enameling…


Book cover of Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide

Judith Harris Author Of Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery

From my list on the joys of life in classical antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a freelance journalist in Italy, I covered, for Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and others, tough topics: terrorism, the Mafia, the heroin traffic which passed via Sicilian laboratories to the U.S. At a certain point I found this overly negative. After taking a course in Rome on archaeology, by chance I was asked to direct a BBC half-hour documentary on Pompeii. In so doing, I realized that it was  time to focus upon the many positive elements of Italian life and history. From that life-changing documentary came this book on Pompeii, on which I worked for five rewarding years. My next book was on historical Venice.

Judith's book list on the joys of life in classical antiquity

Judith Harris Why did Judith love this book?

The late Amanda Claridge, a professor at the University of London, introduces us to the ancient city in the book she co-authored: Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, now on offer as Rome, An archaeological guide. Over time, archaeology itself changes, and today's critics say that her presentation of up-to-date archaeology in Rome equally entrances both tourists and her fellow scholars. She taught at both Oxford and the University of London, as well as at Princeton University in the U.S. 

By Amanda Claridge,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The city of Rome is the largest archaeological site in the world, capital and showcase of the Roman Empire and the centre of Christian Europe.

This guide provides:

* Coverage of all the important sites in the city from 800 BC to AD 600 and the start of the early middle ages, drawing on the latest discoveries and the best of recent scholarship

* Over 220 high-quality maps, site plans, diagrams and photographs

* Sites divided into fourteen main areas, with star ratings to help you plan and prioritize your visit:
Roman Forum; Upper Via Sacra; Palatine; Imperial Forums; Campus…


Book cover of Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories

Philip Matyszak Author Of Hercules: The First Superhero

From my list on ancient Rome by ancient Romans.

Why am I passionate about this?

They say true happiness is finding something you love, and getting paid to do it, which makes me one happy bunny. Ancient history has been my passion, my hobby and my job for the past three decades, and I still wake up every morning looking forward to another day of it. Thanks to the internet I can study the classics and still hike in the mountains and kayak the mountain lakes of my corner of British Columbia. It doesn't get better than this.

Philip's book list on ancient Rome by ancient Romans

Philip Matyszak Why did Philip love this book?

A self-contained description of a war fought in Africa against an ambitious monarch, in which the Roman superpower struggles with an elusive enemy. Roman efforts are badly hampered by corrupt generals and Sallust, writing a generation later makes no attempt to conceal his contempt for the aristocratic establishment which happily pocketed Jugurtha's bribes. A book that reads well and is relevant today. Get the Oxford University Press edition, and get the Catiline conspiracy thrown in for free.

By Sallust,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sallust (86-c. 35 bc) is the earliest Roman historian of whom complete works survive, a senator of the Roman Republic and younger contemporary of Cicero, Pompey and Julius Caesar. His Catiline's War tells of the conspiracy in 63 bc led by L. Sergius Catilina, who plotted to assassinate numerous senators and take control of the government, but was thwarted by Cicero. Sallust's vivid account of Roman public life shows a Republic in decline, prey to moral corruption and internal strife. In The Jugurthine War he describes Rome's fight in Africa against the king of the Numidians from 111 to 105…


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