10 books like I, Claudius

By Robert Graves,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like I, Claudius. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Winds Of War

By Herman Wouk,

Book cover of The Winds Of War

Herman Wouk’s The Winds Of War was published more than half a century ago. That makes it an old book. Not a bad thing, but old books do need to be read with a sensitivity to the times in which they were written. Winds holds up well. The story of the Henry family on the eve of WWII is stunning. A long book by today’s standards but so worth reading. Herman Wouk’s early training in radio can be heard in the attention-grabbing passages of domestic drama—soap opera at its engrossing best. But it’s Wouk’s grasp of history and historical figures that has landed this book on my list. Hitler.  Mussolini. Churchill. And best of all, FDR.

“Behind the warm jolly aristocratic surface, there loomed a grim ill-defined personality of distant visions and hard purpose…” One astonishing sentence on page 655. It doesn’t get any better! 

The Winds Of War

By Herman Wouk,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Winds Of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with THE WINDS OF WAR and continues in WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers.

Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - the drama, the romance, the heroism and the tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very centre of the maelstrom.

"First-rate storytelling." - New York Times

"Compelling . . . A panoramic, engrossing story." - Atlantic…


Ovid

By David Wishart,

Book cover of Ovid

Marcus Valerius Corvinus is a natty young aristocrat-about-town, the despair of his strait-laced father. Young Marcus is determined to take no part in Roman government and concentrates on partying. Of course, he is not nearly as feckless and two-dimensional as he tries to make himself out to the reader, and when the lovely Perilla asks for his help, we get not only a mystery but also a very-well-done romance. Wishart starts off this series in wise-cracking style which is a feature of Marcus’ first person narration, but there is genuine historical mystery behind it all, which scholars have worried over for years—why was the poet Ovid exiled? Wishart knows his stuff, and his enthusiasm for Rome pervades his novels. Debauchery and treachery abounds!

Ovid

By David Wishart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In AD8, Augustus banished the poet Ovid to Tomi, on the Black Sea. In spite of repeated appeals by his friends in Rome for the sentence to be revoked, he died in exile ten years later.

No one knows why Ovid was banished.

The most convincing explanation is that Ovid was involved somehow with the emperor's granddaughter Julia, who was exiled the same year for immorality. However, Julia's sexual partner was sentenced to nothing worse than social ostracism. Her husband, on the other hand, was executed shortly afterwards for treason ...

Why should the witness to a crime be punished…


Julian

By Gore Vidal,

Book cover of Julian

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).

Julian

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.


A Brief History of the Romans

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

Book cover of A Brief History of the Romans

This is probably the best recent one-volume history of Rome, which covers the entire scope of the Roman world from its beginnings to its collapse. It is nicely illustrated, and gives a solid summary of the Roman environment that is easily understood by non-specialists. It is an exciting story: from a village on the Tiber River to ruling the world, an unexpected process that is well laid out.

A Brief History of the Romans

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

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Brief History of the Romans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did a single village community in the Italian peninsula eventually become one of the most powerful imperial powers the world has ever known? In A Brief History of the Romans, Second Edition, Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola, Richard J.A. Talbert, and new coauthor Noel Lenski explore this question as they guide students through a comprehensive sweep of Roman history, ranging from the prehistoric settlements to the fall of the empire in 476.
Addressing issues that still confront modern states worldwide--including warfare, empire building, consensus forging, and political fragmentation--the authors also provide glimpses into everyday
Roman life and perspective,…


From the Gracchi to Nero

By H.H. Scullard,

Book cover of From the Gracchi to Nero

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.

From the Gracchi to Nero

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…


The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

By Edward Gibbon,

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

This is the first great study of the Roman world. Although over 200 years old, it is still influential in the way we look at Rome. It is also one of the great monuments of English prose. Although we may no longer agree with many of his conclusions, it is a joy to read and helps us understand the basis of the Roman world.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

By Edward Gibbon,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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.


The Art of Rome

By Bernard Andreae,

Book cover of The Art of Rome

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.

The Art of Rome

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)


Arundel

By Kenneth Roberts,

Book cover of Arundel

Roberts wrote many better-known novels—e.g. Northwest Passage and Rabble in Arms. Few people remember this wonderful adventure, which takes young Steven Nason on Benedict Arnold’s doomed expedition up the Kennebec River to assault Quebec. (Arundel is a town in southern Maine.) Exuberant writing, great historical detail, and a wonderful depiction of New England Indian life. A classic.

Arundel

By Kenneth Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the classic series from Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novelist Kenneth Roberts, all featuring characters from the town of Arundel, Maine. Arundel follows Steven Nason as he joins Benedict Arnold in his march to Quebec during the American Revolution.


Caleb's Crossing

By Geraldine Brooks,

Book cover of Caleb's Crossing

When Caleb’s Crossing came out I couldn’t wait to read it. Not only was it written by one of my favorite authors, it was inspired by a true story and set in the same place and time period as the novel I was working on. Brooks’ depiction of the love between a Puritan minister’s daughter and the son of a Wampanoag leader is fraught with tension as two very different cultures collide. The novel brings to life the forces driving the conflict through the characters of Bethia and Caleb as they struggle to navigate a perilous time and the looming prospect of war.

Caleb's Crossing

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Caleb's Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bestselling tale of passion and belief, magic and adventure from the author of The Secret Chord and of March, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest…


Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel,

Book cover of Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel was not a historian. She was not a psychologist. She was an insightful and imaginative novelist who wrote in searing psychobiographical style. With Wolf Hall Mantel gave us an understanding of and sympathy for one of history’s most misunderstood and maligned men – Thomas Cromwell – and in the process she transformed historical fiction. When asked if she believed in an afterlife, Mantel answered. “Yes. I can’t imagine how it might work. However, the universe is not limited by what I can imagine.” And yet, I always believed Hilary Mantel’s imagination was limitless. Read Wolf Hall. I think you’ll agree.

Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Wolf Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the the Orange Prize Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award

`Dizzyingly, dazzlingly good' Daily Mail

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with…


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