SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome - Mary Beard

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

By Mary Beard

  • Release Date: 2015-11-09
  • Genre: Ancient
Score: 4
From 257 Ratings


New York Times Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Foreign Affairs, and Kirkus Reviews
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (Nonfiction)
Shortlisted for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (History)
A San Francisco Chronicle Holiday Gift Guide Selection
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection

A sweeping, "magisterial" history of the Roman Empire from one of our foremost classicists shows why Rome remains "relevant to people many centuries later" (Atlantic).

In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome "with passion and without technical jargon" and demonstrates how "a slightly shabby Iron Age village" rose to become the "undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean" (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating "the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life" (Economist) in a way that makes "your hair stand on end" (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this "highly informative, highly readable" (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.


  • Very negative tone

    By Dan4545897
    I wanted to read a book to learn more about Rome and appreciate its empire, but Beard has a negative tone constantly jabbing the Roman leaders and historians. She has so many negative qualifiers I couldn’t figure out if she even likes Rome. Couldn’t finish it.
  • All talk, little facts

    By Capt. Kirk (official)
    The only good thing about this book is the pictures, the rest is Mary’s opinions.
  • I like it

    By Deed 1234
    I like it
  • Amazing Historical Novel

    By Tsunamis Boy
    Count put this book down. It wasn’t just a history of Rome but of World History. The author helps us realize how much of an impact Rome has on how we live today!
  • Aaaaaargh!

    By Esopp
    Disjointed, mind numbing, politically correc. I only read the sample, mercifully
  • Read this Before/During a Trip to Rome

    By marybeardfan
    I don't usually read non-fiction, but I picked this book after sifting through a slew of other titles. I appreciated her style of meandering into the pre-history of Rome and through to the beginning of the Christian Era and the rise of Constantinople. Her writing is almost conversational-very accessible. She questions previous assumptions about the Roman Empire & delves into experiences beyond the wealthy classes (palace intrigue) to explore the experiences of slaves, women, the conquered, etc.. Starting this before/during my visit to Rome allowed the magnificent architecture, art, and museum visits to be enlivened by what I was reading in the book.
  • Historian's look at rome until 212CE

    By Hobj
    At least two chapters end in mid sentence - very irritating but that is on Itunes not the author. Overall an interesting read but it does jump around topically and chronologically though the author is clear about that she intends that.
  • SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

    By PelicanEd
    I always wanted to learn about Rome's beginnings. But the historical guesswork and the research confusion became too much. I gave up about midway. Ed Kelley
  • Boring

    By Stefan vB
    This book has received excellent reviews by The Economist, NYT and others; in my case I recommend you download a sample before purchasing. I found SPQR extremely boring, the author wanders around without a clear and compelling storyline; I frequently found myself looking topics up in wikipedia and others to actually understand the ancient history of Rome.