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March 06, 2011


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Star Wars: Red Harvest

Star Wars + zombies + shameless allusions to the movie Taken all thrown together in a dark Harry Potter-esq school setting that actually manages to be scary or at least highly disturbing. I mean really, what more do you need? Cannibalism, ents, a narrator that sounds disturbingly like Jared Harris. I can barely count the reasons why I love this book and it's well worth a read/listen.

Benjamin Giller

A great read of late roman history is "How Rome Fell" by Adrian Goldsworthy


"The Big Short" By Michael Lewis. Great book, very informative, humorous, well written.


Nothing at all to do with Roman History, but "Manhood for Amateurs" by Michael Chabon is a fantastic collection of short stories about life and stuff narrated by the author. I love his writing style, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

Account Deleted

I couldn't help but compare Diocletian to George Washington and his decision not to seek a third presidential term, especially when the issue of 20-year reigns came up. The American founders were by all accounts just as ambitious and jealous of each other as Galerius et al were. Hadn't the Romans read their Cicero and other Roman sages, as the Americans had?

Rob Evans

One audiobook that I particularly enjoyed listening to recently was Ship of Ghosts, by James Hornfischer. Totally unrelated to Roman history, but a fascinating insight into a little-known action and its aftermath during WWII.


I recently listened to:

I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves and narrated by Derek Jacobi (who played Claudius in the brilliant TV series). Wonderfully written and superbly narrated, I loved listening to this (these) book(s).


Hey Mike I'm a big fan. Here are some audiobook I enjoy.
Harry Sidebottom Warrior of Rome I: Fire in the East, Warrior of Rome II: Kings of Kings, The gate of Rome by Conn Igguiden, and Caesar's Legion by Stephan Collins


Hey Mike, another great episode :) A recomendation I have is The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian, one of the ancient texts, and the best source we have on Alexander the Great. Alexander created the pre-roman mediterranean for some tangental link to the Romans =D Something that has nothing to do with the Romans is A History of China by Hilda Hookham, what I've heard (have it on the audible audiobook, so I have to put heard instead of read I guess) so far is very good. Hope anyone who gets these likes them if they're mentioned.


Robert Harris did a good job capturing the political intriuges during late Republic politics in the Imperium and Conspirata.

On a totally unrelated subject. Does anyone know if the the fictional universe of Star Wars is based on the history of Roman Empire? Many people speculate that George Lucas used Roman history as the basis for creating an inter-galactic world in the future, but I cannont find any credible sources that support this theory.


Issac Azimov's Foundation novels were based on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, an awful lot of Star Wars stems from those books.


Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization by Lars Brownworth. It's a fairly decent chronological account from Diocletian to Constantine X.


i liked these one found them before i found this podcast

A History of Rome
Cyril Edward Robinson (Author), Charlton Griffin (Performer)

two volumes

Marc-Andre Caron

Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade: A great account of early humans and proto-history, based on the very latest findings. It's really good at explaining how genetics is allowing us to better understand our common past, among many other things.

Marc-Andre Caron

The coming of the late empire means a change of how we visualize events. I speak for myself but I believe I do so for the collectivity as well.

When I picture the military of the late republic and early empire, I see the lorica segmentata and square shields. You know, the classic Roman soldier look. When I picture the soldiers under Constantine however, I see chainmails and round shields.

Do you plan to address in coming episodes how the military transitioned from the square shield legionary to the later round shield version?

Was there a shortage of square trees?

Jokes aside, I'm sure plenty of history nerds like myself don't know how this came to happen and would like to better understand the logic behind this evolution.

Thanks, and yours is the first of many podcasts in my list. I like it so much that I feel a pinch when I think that we're slowly approaching the end of the western empire, at which point you may go offline.(sigh)


Here are some Rome/Greece Audible books from my library that your listeners might dig:

1) The Jugurthine War & The Conspiracy of Cataline
by Sallust

2) The March of the Ten Thousand
by Xenophon

3) Thucydides: The Reinvention of History
by Donald Kagan


Nathaniel's Nutmeg by Giles Milton.
or White Gold by Giles Milton.

Hume's Bastard

I forgot.

Philip Pullman's "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ".

Scott Austin

Huge fan of the show but this is the first time I've commented. I'm from Christchurch and I just wanted to thank you for the appeal it is greatly appreciated down here. Keep up the fantastic work it's a real boost getting to listen to your show, make things seem a lot less dour for half an hour. Thanks.

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

Also listening to The Hisory of Philosophy (without any gaps)a podcast from iTunes. Have also purchased the books by S Dando-Collins. Yet to listen to these, saving them for my holidays comming up soon.


For those who are interested in the Byzantine Empire, I would recommend The Modern Scholar: Empire of Gold: A History of the Byzantine Empire (http://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B002V59XX2)

Scott Kullberg

I really liked "Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea". The book itself is a brick, and the audiobook is 33 discs, but it's really good.

Ben Nicholson

I will go for something diffrent than the non-fiction books that mike has recommend and I will dive into the two roman historical fiction series whic I have.
1st off all there is the warrior of rome series (3 so far and another 1 on the way this year)which I think someone mentioned on last weeks thread. This is more off a history book with fiction in and accurate to the history. It is based in the 3rd century crisis and all 3 books are on audible thou I read them.

2nd off all is the eagle series by Simon Scarrow. It's been out for a while but I've only just got into it but the 1st one is very good and I'm looking forward to the rest. It starts off in claudius's reign, with the invasion off britain. But not all the books are avaliable on audible, but not that really matters.

So if you want to see history through a diffrent glass then here you are. I hope someone else likes them as well.

The History of England

Nothing to do with Roman history either, but on the slim connection of good historical fiction, try the Saxon series by Bernard Cornwell. Pure genius. Or Belisarius by Robert Graves, my favourite Roman novel(well, Byzantine)after I,Claudius

Michael Stokes

I enjoy Roman history and I enjoy detective novels, so I enjoy the Marcus Didius Falco books by Lindsey Davis.
Our hero, Didius Falco is a plebian gumshoe living on the Aventine during the reign of Vespasian. There are about twenty books, all on Audible, but not in all markets. Each one focuses on some aspect of Roman culture in addition to the plot. The first one is "The Silver Pigs".
They are all excellent reads.


Second the recommendation for Falco. They have not only funny narrator and interesting detective stories but they also have a great lead female character.

Michael S.

I sincerely recommend "Domitia and Domitian" by David Corson. Excellent book, I don't know if its on audible.com or not.

Greg S

Though I love novels based around Ancient Roman history , I have always been a big fan of the Italian renaissance, I picked up "The Scarlet Contessa" It is an account of Caterina Sforza's life with her fictional handmaiden Dea as they struggle through the political and moral corruption of Rodrigo Borgia's reign as Pope Alexander.

It is a fantastic read and I would suggest it to all who love this time period , especially with alot of media interest revolving around this era thanks to Assassins Creed games and The showtime special "The Bogia's" bringing greater attention to these vivid historical characters.

Jim Sim

Falco is fine but there is another novel by Lindsey Davis called "Course of Honour". It is a fictional life of Vespasian's Mistress, Antonia Caenis. Every true admirer of Vespasian should read it (Sadly not available on Audible).
Another fine writer of Roman historical novels was Alfred Duggan who was writing about 40 years ago. He chose subjects less popular- one is about Lepidus, the third member of the second triumvirate - another is set in the court of Elagabulus. One of his books "Winter Quarters" is on Audible.


Thanks for the great suggestions everyone. Here are my favorite audio books of late.

"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" - William Shirer.

A 1200+ page beast that in audio form (60hrs) is a completely captivating listen! I thought I knew a lot about the Third Reich and it's major players. This book showed me I didn't. My favorite factoid: Hitler's surname was nearly "Sheckelgruber."

"Fall of Giants" - Ken Follett

If you read the reviews on Amazon or Audible on this first book in a series of three by Follett about events beginning just previous to WWI, you would think this is a pretty lackluster book. But as a lover of history, this book is a perfect introduction into the beginnings of this forgotten war, so much of which played into the more familiar events of WWII. If you have read Follett's previous "Pillars of the Earth" or "World Without End," you'll love this book as well!

Richard Eppert

Also not a Roman history book, but I've been listening to the Audible version of "1776" by David Mccullough. I was a history major in college, but didn't study any American history, so I knew very little about the American Revolutionary War. It's amazing that the Americans won the war with Britain considering all the setbacks that happened that year. Excellent book and David Mccullough does an great job narrating his book too!

Jeff Larsen

Huge fan of the podcast. Many great book recommendations already. My recommendation is not a book, but the movie Masada (originally a mini-series from 1981). It is the recounting of the siege of Masada in Judea in 73AD told from both the Roman and Zealot perspective. It also intertwines a good deal of the political culture of Rome at the time and some of the difficulties faced by the Flavians.

Chris Kalley

Along with Michael I like Roman Mysteries, the Falco books are good. I also recommend the SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts, they're set in late Republic times, and I think will really grab listeners of the podcast.


I kind of admire diocletian for abdicating. What else would have happened.. almost everyone who was ruler before him had been assasinated. best to leave when you can still enjoy your being old and leave it in the hands of someone capable. To bad it didnt work out quite as planned, that would have been the perfect end right? Did he by the way also wrote down a history about his reign?? I kind of wonder why no-one after him was as capable to maintain the tetrarchy. Somehow the roman empire seems a bith doomed to not being able to maintain stability.

Great episode as always!!


From the audible libary, I recommend Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder - grim listening but great history and Tony Judt's Postwar. I am currently listening to Why the West Rules (for now) by Ian Morris and I think that would appeal to many history of Rome listeners.


Hi Mike,
I am fan of your podcast 'history of Rome'. I am big fan of roman history although I like republic era more.
The reason I am writing this comment today is I never believed Constantine was really eligible for suffix/adjective/name "the great". (My grammar is not good. Forgive me for that.) In your Constantine podcast please not fall for this 'greatness'. Ofcourse I will really like to listen your view. I think Constantine was called Great emperor just because of Church. I will definitely like to elaborate on this when Constantine podcast is over.
I am just not convinced he was better than Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian and of course Diocletian. But as I said I always respect your opinion. Hence I am eagerly waiting for that podcast.

On other topic . I have started reading 'Poisoned King- Rome's deadliest Enemy'. I read introduction and I am disappointed. Theer is no need to portray Mithridates as 'freedom-fighter' against Roman Imperialism. I think it will be completely wrong. But I am planning to read it completely and I will like to sent my 0.02 cents worth of comments to you. Because Mithridates spent major part of whole life fighting Rome, hence its better to send my comments/opinion to you.

Alexandra Y.

Is there going to be anything special going on on the Ides of March?

Jay Bahadur

Have you recommended Plutarch's Lives yet? One of the most precocious writers I have ever read, whose vivid, evocative, and deeply insightful work puts most modern academics to shame.

Love the podcast-- keep up the good work!

peyton f.

Madden's "Empires of Trust: How Rome built and America is building a new world order."

Van Irvin

I liked the unabridged complete Lincoln-Douglass debates available on Audible. Richard Dreyfuss does Judge Douglass. Very enlightening view into what hasn't changed too much as far as the rhetoric that is used in politics despite the radically different issues involved then and now.

Carina Burns

"Ben Hur" by Lew Wallace

Mike G.

It's a fantasy series, but the Codex Alera series (First book is Furies of Calderon) is an awesome Lost Roman Legion story written by Jim Butcher who also wrote the Dresden Files. Highly recommended. Especially as you learn more and more throughout the series why the governmental structure in the book is the way it is based on the challenges the Romans faced when they found themselves in this strange magical world.


"1421 the year china discovered the world"
Gave me a very different view of western advancement:)


Ops, correction "1421 the year China discovered America"

Lloyd Deane

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich audiobook by Shirer.

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