100 books like Constantine the Emperor

By David M. Potter,

Here are 100 books that Constantine the Emperor fans have personally recommended if you like Constantine the Emperor. 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 Cleopatra: A Life

Dana Cameron Author Of Exit Interview

From my list on badass women in history and fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first career in archaeology fed my love of history and cultures, giving me insight into human motivations. As a writer, I also love a good action scene, and I began taking mixed martial arts when I was writing the Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries and then the “Fangborn” urban fantasy novels. I soon realized I wanted to write a thriller with female characters who were badass—tough and smart—women I’d want to have at my back in a fight. I found them when I wrote Exit Interview. I love a book where a woman takes charge to change things, whether it's in her community or more globally.

Dana's book list on badass women in history and fiction

Dana Cameron Why did Dana love this book?

This next one is a bit of a curve ball, but it also reflects my interest in strong women in history and fiction—as well as my love of history and archaeology. Cleopatra: A Life, takes a historical figure who was nearly mythological, and roots her firmly within a cultural and historical context. Gone is the wily temptress of fiction and antiquity; Stacy Schiff's subject is a queen, a military strategist, an ingenious diplomat, and a polymath. She waged (and survived) civil war and foreign invasions, and reshaped the ancient world. The book reads like a novel, but never skimps on the historical and archaeological data--even the footnotes are compelling. Who wouldn't want this woman as backup?

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as…


Book cover of Nero

Phillip Barlag Author Of Evil Roman Emperors: The Shocking History of Ancient Rome's Most Wicked Rulers from Caligula to Nero and More

From my list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to read & write so much about Roman history; it was an accident. I happened to visit Rome when I was young, quite poor and decidedly light on my knowledge of Roman history. Five minutes out of the train station and into the streets and I was hooked for life. I had to know more and started reading. Then I found gaps in the library and started writing. Roman history never stops changing, even thousands of years later. New discoveries, new scholarship, new interpretations, all keep Roman history fresh & exciting. I love sharing what I find. Thank you for joining the adventure.

Phillip's book list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history

Phillip Barlag Why did Phillip love this book?

Was Nero really such a monster? The New York Times and the British Museum are among the venerable institutions attempting to answer this question. It’s part of a broad trend to rethink the life and rule of one of history’s most famous villains. I’d like to think that this book helped start this historical reframing. Nero was not without his virtues. But he most definitely had vices in abundance. The question is not whether he was good or bad; rather, how did those two dimensions interact? Champlain does a great job of looking at Nero with a measure of objectivity and helping readers see things a bit differently. 

By Edward Champlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Roman emperor Nero is remembered by history as the vain and immoral monster who fiddled while Rome burned. Edward Champlin reinterprets Nero's enormities on their own terms, as the self-conscious performances of an imperial actor with a formidable grasp of Roman history and mythology and a canny sense of his audience.

Nero murdered his younger brother and rival to the throne, probably at his mother's prompting. He then murdered his mother, with whom he may have slept. He killed his pregnant wife in a fit of rage, then castrated and married a young freedman because he resembled her. He…


Book cover of Caesar

Phillip Barlag Author Of Evil Roman Emperors: The Shocking History of Ancient Rome's Most Wicked Rulers from Caligula to Nero and More

From my list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to read & write so much about Roman history; it was an accident. I happened to visit Rome when I was young, quite poor and decidedly light on my knowledge of Roman history. Five minutes out of the train station and into the streets and I was hooked for life. I had to know more and started reading. Then I found gaps in the library and started writing. Roman history never stops changing, even thousands of years later. New discoveries, new scholarship, new interpretations, all keep Roman history fresh & exciting. I love sharing what I find. Thank you for joining the adventure.

Phillip's book list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history

Phillip Barlag Why did Phillip love this book?

When I wrote my first book—an exploration of Caesar’s leadership—I read a lot about the guy. This was the book I came back to most often as a guidepost. It helped me get past the biases I brought into my project and understand better the essence of who Caesar really was. There are a lot of books about Caesar, and rightly so; he is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic personalities of all time. For me, a great book is one that leaves me feeling like I could travel in time, sit down with the subject, and know what to expect from them. That’s a rare feat, especially for someone like Caesar. But he felt almost…familiar after reading this book. 

By Christian Meier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

James Boswell called him 'the greatest man of any age'. Christian Meier's biography is the definitive modern account of Caesar's life and career, and places him within the wider context of the crisis of the Roman republic. It is a compelling work of historical scholarship.


Book cover of Caligula: A Biography

Phillip Barlag Author Of Evil Roman Emperors: The Shocking History of Ancient Rome's Most Wicked Rulers from Caligula to Nero and More

From my list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to read & write so much about Roman history; it was an accident. I happened to visit Rome when I was young, quite poor and decidedly light on my knowledge of Roman history. Five minutes out of the train station and into the streets and I was hooked for life. I had to know more and started reading. Then I found gaps in the library and started writing. Roman history never stops changing, even thousands of years later. New discoveries, new scholarship, new interpretations, all keep Roman history fresh & exciting. I love sharing what I find. Thank you for joining the adventure.

Phillip's book list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history

Phillip Barlag Why did Phillip love this book?

Few books challenge conventional knowledge about a historical figure like this one. This might be bad business for me personally. After all, my book about Evil Roman Emperors likes to wallow in the more salacious aspects of Roman history, and this book undermines some of those narratives where Rome’s third emperor is concerned. Winterling’s book takes a deep and critical look at the life of this maligned figure from history. While he stops short of vindicating Caligula, the author does a great job of giving a more complete and nuanced perspective of who he was and what made him tick. Was he truly crazy? Did he really think himself a god? Should his name be inextricably linked with violence and debauchery? Read and find out.

By Aloys Winterling, Deborah Lucas Schneider (translator), Glenn W. Most , Paul Psoinos

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The infamous emperor Caligula ruled Rome from A.D. 37 to 41 as a tyrant who ultimately became a monster. An exceptionally smart and cruelly witty man, Caligula made his contemporaries worship him as a god. He drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and ate food covered in gold leaf. He forced men and women of high rank to have sex with him, turned part of his palace into a brothel, and committed incest with his sisters. He wanted to make his horse a consul. Torture and executions were the order of the day. Both modern and ancient interpretations have concluded from…


Book cover of Constantius II: Usurpers, Eunuchs and the Antichrist

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Charles M. Odahl earned a doctorate in Ancient and Medieval History and Classical Languages at the University of California, San Diego, with an emphasis on Roman imperial and early Christian studies. He has spent his life and career traveling, living, and researching at sites relevant to his interests, especially in Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia. He has taught at universities in Britain, France, Idaho, and Oregon, and published 5 books and 50 articles and reviews on Roman and early Christian topics.

Charles' book list on the 4th century Roman world

Charles Matson Odahl Why did Charles love this book?

Dr. Crawford, a specialist in ancient history and religion, offers a detailed and readable account of the life and reign of Constantine's longest surviving son and successor in the mid-4th century (A.D. 324-361). Often criticized by ancient sources and modern scholars alike for not being as great a soldier as his father and for favoring Arian-leaning bishops, the author tries to rehabilitate the reputation of Constantius as a capable ruler in difficult times.

By Peter Crawford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Constantius II as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The reign of Constantius II has been overshadowed by that of his titanic father, Constantine the Great, and his cousin and successor, the pagan Julian. However, as Peter Crawford shows, Constantius deserves to be remembered as a very capable ruler in dangerous, tumultuous times. When Constantine I died in in 337, the twenty-year-old Constantius and his two brothers, Constans and Constantine II, all recieved the title of Augustus to reign as equal co-emperors. In 340, however, Constantine II was killed in a fraternal civil war with Constans. The two remaining brothers shared the Empire for the next ten years, with…


Book cover of Julian

Christopher Harris Author Of Mappamundi

From my list on getting right inside the minds of historical people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of the Byzantine Trilogy (in 4 parts). These books depict the difficult beginning, decadent apogee, and sad end of the Byzantine empire. I think it is important to make historical fiction vivid, to immerse the reader in a distant time and place, with all its sights, smells, sounds, and tastes, as experienced by someone who was really there. I am also interested in what people believed, and why. For that reason, my historical novels are all first-person narratives, stories told by the people who lived through them. Here are some of the fictional memoirs that inspired me to start writing.

Christopher's book list on getting right inside the minds of historical people

Christopher Harris Why did Christopher love this book?

The short reign of Julian the Apostate is one of the “what ifs” of history. Raised as a Christian, Julian was a secret pagan. When he unexpectedly became emperor, he reversed the privileges of the Church and promoted his own Neo-Platonist cult, intending to restore paganism. Even though we know how things really turned out, it is fascinating to speculate about what might have happened if he had succeeded. 

Gore Vidal has filled this novel with war, politics, sex, religion, heresy, and philosophy. I have tried to follow his example (though I have been more sympathetic to eunuchs than he was).

By Gore Vidal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gore Vidal's fictional recreation of the Roman Empire teetering on the crux of Christianity and ruled by an emperor who was an inveterate dabbler in arcane hocus-pocus, a prig, a bigot, and a dazzling and brilliant leader.


Book cover of Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America's Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia

Hajimu Masuda Author Of Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World

From my list on reconsider what the Cold War really was.

Why am I passionate about this?

Masuda Hajimu (family name Masuda) is a historian at the National University of Singapore. He specializes in the modern history of East Asia, the history of American foreign relations, and the social and global history of the Cold War, with particular attention toward ordinary people and their violence, as well as the recurrent rise of grassroots conservatism in the modern world. His most recent publications include: The Early Cold War: Studies of Cold War America in the 21st Century in A Companion to U.S. Foreign Relations; “The Social Experience of War and Occupation” in The Cambridge History of Japan (coming in 2022), among others. He has served as a residential fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2017-18); Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2020); and Visiting Scholar at Waseda University (2020).

Hajimu's book list on reconsider what the Cold War really was

Hajimu Masuda Why did Hajimu love this book?

To be honest, I didn't like this book when I was reading early chapters, which focus solely on American efforts to utilize Buddhism as a sort of “spiritual weapon” to counter the appeal of Communism in Southeast Asia, notably in Thailand. I thought it too U.S.-centric and an overly top-down narrative. However, my doubts dispelled when I continued to read the middle and, particularly, the last two chapters, where the author discusses how Thai Buddhist monks also used Cold War politics and U.S. support in their attempts to expand their roles in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and to safeguard the three pillars of Thai’s traditional order: nation, religion, and king. 

What is most interesting is that, at the height of fears of communism in the early 1970s (that is, the time of the Vietnam War and U.S. withdrawal from it), the right-wing faction of Thai Buddhist monks embraced militant anti-communism,…

By Eugene Ford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cold War Monks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking account of U.S. clandestine efforts to use Southeast Asian Buddhism to advance Washington's anticommunist goals during the Cold War

How did the U.S. government make use of a "Buddhist policy" in Southeast Asia during the Cold War despite the American principle that the state should not meddle with religion? To answer this question, Eugene Ford delved deep into an unprecedented range of U.S. and Thai sources and conducted numerous oral history interviews with key informants. Ford uncovers a riveting story filled with U.S. national security officials, diplomats, and scholars seeking to understand and build relationships within the Buddhist…


Book cover of The Final Pagan Generation: Rome's Unexpected Path to Christianity

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Charles M. Odahl earned a doctorate in Ancient and Medieval History and Classical Languages at the University of California, San Diego, with an emphasis on Roman imperial and early Christian studies. He has spent his life and career traveling, living, and researching at sites relevant to his interests, especially in Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia. He has taught at universities in Britain, France, Idaho, and Oregon, and published 5 books and 50 articles and reviews on Roman and early Christian topics.

Charles' book list on the 4th century Roman world

Charles Matson Odahl Why did Charles love this book?

Dr. Watts, a prolific author on Roman history, gives a detailed survey of the lives and careers of some of the last prominent pagan intellectuals who lived from the time of Constantine's conversion to Christianity to Theodosius' outlawing of paganism. He shows the intellectual, social, and religious changes in the fourth century as the Roman world was transformed from a pagan to a Christian society. A fascinating story brilliantly told.

By Edward J. Watts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A compelling history of radical transformation in the fourth-century--when Christianity decimated the practices of traditional pagan religion in the Roman Empire.

The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century's dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of…


Book cover of Septimius Severus: The African Emperor

Michael Kulikowski Author Of The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy

From my list on Rome in the third century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up playing with toy Roman legionaries, marveling at Roman coins, and poring over diagrams of Roman military equipment and their astonishing feats of engineering, went back and forth between wanting to be a medievalist or a Classicist and ended up settling into the study of the late Roman empire and the way it completely transformed its Classical heritage. Along with writing books on that period, I love writing on much wider ancient and medieval themes in the London Review of Books and the TLS.

Michael's book list on Rome in the third century

Michael Kulikowski Why did Michael love this book?

Writing a good biography is very different from writing a narrative history – they’re different art forms. Septimius Severus is the last Roman emperor about whom we can build up a fully rounded biographical portrait until Julian the Apostate, a century and a half later. In Birley’s meticulous telling, Severus comes across as a transformative political genius, a soldier of great skill -- and a monster of a human being.

By Anthony Birley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Septimius Severus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this, the only biography of Septimius Severus in English, Anthony R. Birley explors how 'Roman' or otherwise this man was and examines his remarkable background and career.
Severus was descended from Phoenician settlers in Tripolitania, and his reign, AD 193-211, represents a key point in Roman history. Birley explores what was African and what was Roman in Septimius' background, given that he came from an African city. He asks whether Septimius was a 'typical cosmopolitan bureaucrat', a 'new Hannibal on the throne of Caesar' or 'principle author of the decline of the Roman Empire'?


Book cover of Theodosius and the Limits of Empire

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Charles M. Odahl earned a doctorate in Ancient and Medieval History and Classical Languages at the University of California, San Diego, with an emphasis on Roman imperial and early Christian studies. He has spent his life and career traveling, living, and researching at sites relevant to his interests, especially in Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia. He has taught at universities in Britain, France, Idaho, and Oregon, and published 5 books and 50 articles and reviews on Roman and early Christian topics.

Charles' book list on the 4th century Roman world

Charles Matson Odahl Why did Charles love this book?

Dr. Hebblewhite, a specialist in late antique military history, provides a new biographical narrative on the life and reign of the Christian emperor Theodosius the Great (A.D. 347-395). He covers the emperor's struggles against the Gothic barbarians, his attempts to unify Christians around the orthodox Nicene Creed, and his outlawing of paganism and establishment of Catholic Christianity as the official religion of the late Roman Empire. Solid and readable.

By Mark Hebblewhite,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Theodosius and the Limits of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The emperor Theodosius I (AD 379-395) was one of the most remarkable figures of the late antique period. In the face of religious schism, political turmoil, and barbarian threats he managed to maintain imperial power and forge a political dynasty that would dominate both east and west for over half a century. This study, the first English language biography in over twenty years, traces his rise to power and tumultuous reign, and examines his indelible impact on a rapidly changing empire.


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