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Recommend some Roman History books, please...


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As I get to know Roman coins, I also want to expand my knowledge of Roman history. "Nescient" wouldn't describe my current knowledge, but "proficient" probably wouldn't either. Disparate sources over the years, including books, documentaries and an actual trip to Italy, have bequeathed to me a "little bit of this, a little bit of that" level of knowledge.

Years ago, I read "Chronicle of the Roman Emperors," which, though packed with information and great photos, lacked an overall "big picture" treatment of major themes. Not surprisingly, it focused on emperors and left quite a bit out. Nonetheless, it probably served as a good starting point for just how involved this subject can get. It painted the Praetorian Guard with a downright terrifying glaze. Apparently, some emperors learned valuable lessons the hard way.

Chronicle Of The Roman Emperors: The Reign-by-reign Record Of The Rulers Of  Impe: Chris Scarre: Amazon.com: Books

In hopes of achieving slightly more curated knowledge at a high level, I read "The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction," which dealt well with major themes, but it intentionally left out a chronological history of major events. I learned a lot, but it serves as a better starting than ending point, so, given the mass of Roman history in my brain, I'm ready to move on to a more thorough and chronological treatment. The best probably begin with Rome as a city turned Republic and then follow its course through the Western collapse. One that also covered Byzantium would probably run well into several volumes.

The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction: Kelly, Christopher

I'm guessing that more than a few large scale Roman history books exist. Does anyone have specific recommendations of single modern books that cover the history of the rise and fall of Rome? I don't think I'm too keen on reading Gibbon at this point, so I'll add the condition "besides Gibbon." I've heard good things about Mary Beard's "SPQR," but I've also heard that it deals with a narrower historical scope than many histories. Unless I've heard wrong, I'd rather save that particular book for later. A general search gives an almost overwhelming flurry of options.

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