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First Emperor of Rome

Adrian Goldsworthy

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The dramatic story of Rome’s first emperor, who plunged into Rome’s violent power struggles at the age of nineteen, proceeded to destroy all rivals, and more than anyone else created the Roman Empire
Caesar Augustus’ story, one of the most riveting in Western history, is filled with drama and contradiction, risky gambles and unexpected success. Thrusting himself into Rome’s extremely violent politics while yet a very young man, Augustus skillfully maneuvered his way through twisting alliances during years of civil war. Named heir to the murdered Julius Caesar, he outwitted and outlasted far more experienced rivals like Antony and Brutus. Ruling supreme, he reinvented himself as a benevolent man of peace and created a new system of government.
In this highly anticipated biography Goldsworthy puts his deep knowledge of ancient sources to full use, recounting the events of Augustus’ long life in greater detail than ever before. Goldsworthy pins down the man behind the myths: a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless. Under Augustus’ rule the empire prospered, yet his success was never assured and the events of his life unfolded with exciting unpredictability. Goldsworthy captures the passion and savagery, the public image and private struggles of the real man whose epic life continues to influence Western history.

Adrian Goldsworthy is a leading historian of the ancient world and author of acclaimed biographies of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra among many other books. He lectures widely and consults on historical documentaries produced by the History Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC. He lives in the Vale of Glamorgan, UK.

"Superb. . . . Augustus is a first-rate popular biography by a skilled and knowing hand, a fine companion to Goldsworthy’s Caesar."—Steve Donoghue, Washington Post

"Impressive . . . Mr. Goldsworthy . . . moves nimbly around other important evidence about Augustus’ life . . . The resulting life is, in one sense, deeply unified. This is a welcome corrective to traditional presentations."—Brendan Boyle, Wall Street Journal

"Goldsworthy's true expertise is as a military historian, and this is what really gives his biography its strength and bite: his depiction of Augustus's relationship with his legions is masterly."—Robert Harris, London Sunday Times

"Goldsworthy’s prodigious biography of this first and greatest Roman emperor is thorough and well-researched. . . . Goldsworthy is a superb historian and talented writer, . . . [and Augustus] will likely join the pantheon of biographies of a truly great Roman leader. . . . Goldsworthy reminds readers . . . that human nature does not change. Augustus cultivated what passed for the Roman media as assiduously as any American politician today woos Fox News or CNN. One gets the impression that Augustus would have adapted well to 21st-century politics while still ruling wisely."—Gary Anderson, Washington Times

"The dramatic rise and long rule of Caesar Augustus is the subject of Adrian Goldsworthy’s substantial new biography, Augustus: First Emperor of Rome. The book is a fascinating study of political life in ancient Rome, and the parallels with our own political system are numerous and interesting. But the discontinuities between America and the Roman Empire are just as revealing."Nick Romeo, Christian Science Monitor

"Goldsworthy peers like a master jeweler into the strange cold diamond at the heart of Roman history—the emperor Augustus—and reveals the whole Roman world reflected in its facets. But the book itself is warm with human sympathy, elegant writing, and the sheer joy and love of history it evokes in its reader."—J. E. Lendon, author of Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity and Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins

"In too many of the numerous histories of this period, Augustus as an individual is blurred, if not overlooked, as strange as that may seem. Goldsworthy’s goal is to rescue the life of Augustus from the history, limning the passions, cruelty, and wiliness that made up that often-dismissed character. . . . Adrian Goldsworthy’s fine new biography tells the founder’s story as it deserves to be told."—Michael Auslin, National Review Online

"Goldsworthy has produced an elegantly written and well-argued biography of Augustus that pulls no punches. Sifting through the literature of the Augustan Age, he brings together the ancient evidence with the best of modern scholarship, producing a meticulously researched, but highly readable, volume on Rome’s first emperor. The result is a study on the nature of leadership, the wielding of power, and the price to be paid by both."—Col. Rose Mary Sheldon, Virginia Military Institute

"Goldsworthy capably guides us over the rapids of 'modern scholarship.' He challenges stories that are repeated often but never questioned, . . . [and] is particularly sound on senatorial power struggles and the use of marriage to cement or break political alliances. . . . [Augustus] is the most trustworthy [portrait] we are likely to get."—Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

"Goldsworthy (Caesar: Life of a Colossus, 2008, etc.) obviously has ancient Rome in his bones, and his biography of Augustus is also a solid chronicle of Rome and its development. . . . Goldsworthy questions why Augustus has slipped off of many historians' lists of great leaders, which include Julius Caesar, Alexander, Hannibal and Hadrian. He provides plenty of reasons why he should be at the top of those lists."—Kirkus Reviews

"Augustus is the greatest ancient Roman leader, . . . and yet, [he is] something of an enigma. Adrian Goldsworthy’s wonderful biography will change all that. Augustus is revealing of its subject’s character and the time in which he lived, judicious on his shortcomings, and rich in portraits of secondary figures—everything a biography should be. . . . Augustus is the best sort of biography because it inspires readers to make these comparisons [between ancient times and our own], without making them explicit. It deserves wide readership, and, in the best way, demonstrates the truth of Petrarch’s famous query: 'What else is all history, but the praise of Rome?'"—Ted Lawrence, Washington Free Beacon

"Historian and biographer Goldsworthy (Caesar) showcases his deep knowledge of Ancient Rome in this masterful document of a life whose themes still resonate in modern times. . . . A strong narrative emphasis ties the work together and is enriched by evocative details of Roman life. . . . The overall effect that Goldsworthy generates is of meeting a man whose life seems hardly distant from the modern experience. While ancient cultural practices can often feel foreign, the political motivations and machinations, the familial relations and emotions, ring as true today as at the turn of the Common Era."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Adrian Goldsworthy has done it again. His biography of Augustus, just released by Yale University Press, is the most balanced and nuanced explanation of how Augustus succeeded. . . . The book  reads like a novel in part, perhaps, because, having written several novels, Goldsworthy has learned to think about motivation. He is clearly the best Roman historian of our day."—Martin Lobel,

"An absolutely must read for Roman history fans and students of the Julio-Claudians."—NS Gill’s Ancient Matters

"The 2,000th anniversary of the death of Augustus has renewed interest in the man regarded as the founder of the Roman Empire and its first emperor. With a canny sense for timing, acclaimed military historian Adrian Goldsworthy has published a new biography of this important, and still controversial, historical figure. . . . Goldsworthy presents the known facts of the life of the enigmatic and complex Augustus evenhandedly. He admirably charts the events of his rise to power, revealing him variously as a second-rate military commander, clever manipulator, confident showman and consummate politician."—Lindsay Powell, UNRV

"[Goldsworthy,] the author of the best-selling Caesar: The Life of a Colossus, . . . relates [Augustus’] military victories, the hairbreadth escapes, the diplomatic successes and the dark family quarrels with a storyteller’s brio, bringing alive the empire’s tense standoffs with Eastern kingdoms such as Parthia and along the way giving us some quite wonderful readings of poets such as Virgil and Horace. . . . [Goldsworthy’s] insights and inferences are superb throughout. . . . Augustus is a first-rate popular biography by a skilled and knowing hand, a fine companion to Goldsworthy’s Caesar volume."—Steve Donoghue, Washington Post

"For all his importance, Augustus is often an enigma behind a classical façade. Goldsworthy’s Augustus reveals all the drama and detail surrounding Rome’s first emperor. Brimming with energy, scholarship, and wisdom, it is a history book to savor."—Barry Strauss, author of Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar and the Genius of Leadership

"A biography that can interest scholars, but also be read with ease by anyone interested in the ancient world. Goldsworthy has an unusual ability to make his detailed histories readable and interesting to a general audience, and that is a rare talent. I recommend it very highly."—Richard Weigel, Bowling Green [KY] Daily News

"Augustus splendidly completes the trilogy that started with Caesar and continued with Antony and Cleopatra. It is the best extended treatment in English of Augustus' career and his many contradictions."—Karl Galinsky, University of Texas at Austin

Won an Honorable Mention for the 2014 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the Biography & Autobiography category
ISBN: 9780300178722
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
624 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
43 b/w illus. + 13 maps

Sales Restrictions: For sale in the United States, its territories and dependencies, and the Philippine Islands

Life of a Colossus

Adrian Goldsworthy

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How Rome Fell

Death of a Superpower

Adrian Goldsworthy

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Antony and Cleopatra

Adrian Goldsworthy

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Pax Romana

War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World

Adrian Goldsworthy

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In the Name of Rome

The Men Who Won the Roman Empire

Adrian Goldsworthy; With a New Preface

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