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2015-09-23
Waterloo event in Penarth Book Festival
Hello all

I shall be taking part in a panel talking about Napoleon and Waterloo as part of the Penarth Book festival - follow this link - on the 12th October.
 
2015-08-09
Augustus in paperback in UK
The paperback of AUGUSTUS. From Revolutionary to Emperor was released on Thursday so should already be in the shops. It's a nice edition, keeping the colour photographs, and with a handsome 'imperial' purple cover. It has given us a chance to correct the errors on the family tree. However, one typo was not spotted until it was too late and it is an embarrassing one because it is in a famous Cicero quote where a 'd' had been missed out. This should read - laudandum aduluscentum, ornandum, tollendum. Thanks to the person who spotted that one and wrote in.
 
2015-06-02
Whose Business is to die
My latest novel is due for release on the 11th June. Whose Business is to die is the sixth in the series (and not fifth as amazon claims) and is set during the campaign leading to the appallingly costly Battle of Albuera in 1811. By the time of the release, there will be a new page on the website with more detail.
 
2015-04-02
Waterloo in History Revealed Magazine
The April issue of History Revealed magazine is now on sale in the UK and contains a long article on the Napoleonic wars and the Waterloo campaign. This is the first time I have written non fiction on anything other than the ancient world. They have laid it out very nicely, with plenty of colourful illustrations, and there are plenty of other interesting articles. The collection of photographs from Gallipoli are especially striking.

PS For reasons of space they had to cut part of the section on visiting the battlefield. If you are heading over to Belgium, then you can do no better than taking David Buttery's Waterloo: Battlefield Guide which I mentioned in an earlier post.
 
2015-03-15
Ides of March
Well, it has been even longer than usual since my last post, as work and daily leave little spare time for things like this blog. Right at the beginning I did warn that it would be occasional!

Today's date made it a good time to post an entry, two thousand and fifty-nine years to the day after the assassination of Julius Caesar - that is if you don't worry too much about the Gregorian reform of the calendar. That is a long time, but there is no sign of interest in Caesar waning. I knew that I had to write the Augustus biography as soon as I finished the one on Caesar, although it took a while for it to happen. Augustus achieved much more lasting change than his great uncle. In the book I argue that he did not distance himself from his 'father' in the way claimed by many scholars. Nor did he really act that differently or wield his power less blatantly. The world was simply very different by 30 BC that he did not face the same sort of opposition from a faction in the Senate - so many opponents were dead, a good few on Augustus' orders.

There is still a tendency to romanticize the 'Liberators' and yet the freedom they killed for was the freedom for a very small elite to monopolize power and exploit the world. For my current project I have just been re-reading Cicero's correspondence as proconsul in Cilicia in 51-50 BC and these do not show Brutus or his uncle Cato in a very good light. Brutus had loaned out large sums of money to communities and rulers in the province and wanted his money back. It's tempting to wonder whether he had over-reached himself and was short of ready money. He wanted 48% interest - four times the legal maximum - on a loan to Salamis in Cyprus. His agent on the spot had secured cavalry off the previous governor and blockaded the council of the city in their meeting-house until several starved. Brutus was blunt and very determined in his efforts to browbeat Cicero into forcing the community to pay up, and ill tempered when he only got some of his money back from other creditors. There is no trace of Shakespeare's 'noblest Roman of them all'. Cato was patronizing when he refused to back Cicero's claim for a public thanksgiving, an essential step to getting a triumph. This adherence to principle might have commanded respect, if he had not then backed the far more dubious claim of his son-in-law, the proconsul of Syria to the same honour. Perhaps the strangest thing of all is the influence both men possessed, given that neither had spectacular careers. It was an influence based far more on who they were - or who there relations by blood, marriage and adoption were - and the belief that their character, supposed integrity, and names made them important.

Caesar did far more, even before his dictatorship, and he had played the same game in cultivating a public image so that from quite an early stage in his career people thought that he was going to be important. I still find him easier to admire than his opponents, but there is always a sense with the first century BC that none of the civil wars and chaos were actually necessary. If the Senate had done its job in the first place, and individuals been less willing to shed blood to protect their own reputations and destroy those of others, then none of this need have happened. The murder of Caesar on the Ides of March was just about the only time a group acted on a principle - at least in part, for there were other reasons as well. It's such a shame that the principle itself was not a terribly edifying one, and that within months Brutus, Cassius and the others were behaving no differently from the other warlords of this era.

By the way, Barry Strauss has a new book called The Death of Caesar. The Story of History's most famous assassination which provides a detailed and lively account of the months either side of the murder.
 

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