Nearly anybody with even the smallest bit of interest in the Roman Republic, when asked for a book recommendation, will surely mention Tom Holland's Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic near the top of their list. And so when this book was recommended to me by several people I snatched it up, eager to get a glimpse into the world of the dying Republic that I honestly didn't know all that much about.
From the opening stage that set the scene with Caesar perched on the bank of the river Rubicon with his 13th Legion massed and waiting for the order to cross, this book was gripping and forceful. I had difficulty setting it down as some of history's most recognizable names were paraded across the stage: Caesar, Cicero, Cato, Pompey, Antony, Cleopatra. The primary focus of the narrative was the political and cultural currents that lead to the fall of the Roman Republic, with only a nod to the famous military campaigns that were taking place at the time. Because of this focus, the mighty men of the Republic are laid bare and made to look slanderous, whining, plotting and weak as they jockey for position, prestige and wealth within the political arena. These were not the Great Men that I had learned about through a basic understanding of their stunning military accomplishments. While this new perspective was certainly entertaining, it left me wanting to go in search of additional material that could restore some of the greatness of the Republic.
And that is one of the things I enjoy most about my wargaming projects - the chance to read, research and learn about topics and histories that I didn't know before I started. This hobby not only entertains me, but it allows me to grow. I highly recommend Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic to anybody interested in this era of history. Rubicon is well written and passionate, but I suggest having a follow-up book ready to clear the palette when you are done.