The Twelve Caesars -- The Dramatic Lives of the Emperors of Rome by Matthew Dennison, St. Martin's Press '13, stated First U.S. Edition, First Printing. $27.99, 385 pages, ASIN #125002353X. Index, bibliography, notes, glossary, b&w images sprinkled through text.
Ask 20 people on the street to name a Roman emperor, and 19 would name who? Julius Caesar, of course. That's easy. But ask the same cohort to list the 12 Caesars, and it's doubtful if anyone could. Certainly not this scribe.
In his new book, journalist Matthew Dennison is determined to close this educational gap. "One of them was a military genius," Dennison wrotes, "one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned, and another earned the nickname 'sphincter artist.' Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide -- and five of them were elevated to the status of gods."
OK, I sense you're getting impatient. Just list the 12, for heaven's sake, you say. Incidentally, all 12 served from 49 BC to AD 96, a period during which "Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years." These transforming 12 are Julius Caesar (of course), Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitan.
Matthew Denison, author of the acclaimed The Last Princess and Livia, Empress of Rome, contributes to leading newspapers and magazines in Great Britain. He is married and lives in London and North Wales.
Garments of Court and Palace -- Machiavelli and the World That He Made by Philip Bobbitt, Atlantic Monthly Press '13, $24, 270 pages, ASIN #0802120741. Index, select bibliography, notes, chronology, dramatis personae, unillustrated.
From the dust jacket:
"Few books in the history of the world have had a stronger, more lasting, or more errant impact than Machiavelli's The Prince. One of its first interpreters, French theologian Innocent Gentillet called it 'a courtier's Koran.' A copy was found in Napoleon's abandoned coach at Waterloo, and Hitler was said to keep a copy at his bedside.
"Over the centuries, the ideal ruler as outlined by Machiavelli has mostly been seen as a ruthless, immoral tyrant, but in this fascinating examination of the author and his work, scholar and statesman Philip Bobbitt, argues that this is a misunderstanding stemming from mistranslations, political agendas, and readers often overlooking an earlier volume by Machiavelli called Discourses on Livy."
Law professor Philip Bobbitt is director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University. He has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations as a senior official at the White House, the State Department, and the National Security Council. He has written seven books.