Author(s): Tom Holland
Rome was first ruled by kings, then became a republic. But in the end, after conquering the world, the Republic collapsed. Rome was drowned in blood. So terrible were the civil wars that the Roman people finally came to welcome the rule of an autocrat who could give them peace. 'Augustus,' their new master called himself: 'The Divinely Favoured One'. The lurid glamour of the dynasty founded by Augustus has never faded. No other family can compare for sheer unsettling fascination with its gallery of leading characters. Tiberius, the great general who ended up a bitter recluse, notorious for his perversions; Caligula, the master of cruelty and humiliation who rode his chariot across the sea; Agrippina, the mother of Nero, manoeuvering to bring to power the son who would end up having her murdered; Nero himself, racing in the Olympics, marrying a eunuch, and building a pleasure palace over the fire-gutted centre of his capital. Now, in the sequel to Rubicon, Tom Holland gives a dazzling portrait of Rome's first imperial dynasty. Dynasty traces the full astonishing story of its rule of the world: both the brilliance of its allure, and the blood-steeped shadows cast by its crimes. Ranging from the great capital rebuilt in marble by Augustus to the dank and barbarian-haunted forests of Germany, it is populated by a spectacular cast: murderers and metrosexuals, adulterers and druids, scheming grandmothers and reluctant gladiators. Dynasty is the portrait of a family that transformed and stupefied Rome.
Long-listed for PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2016.
Holland's masterly account of this first wicked century of the Roman empire is, at its heart, a political analysis ... the story he tells strides onwards across the landscape of grief and horror without pause or stutter ... Holland is unshockable as he proceeds with breezy, clear-eyed analysis from one degrading display of cruelty and paranoia to the next ... It is down to his skill as a storyteller that there's no difficulty in imagining that it might all happen again tomorrow -- Adam Nicholson Sunday Times Deft and skilful ... Among the many virtues of Tom Holland's terrific history is that he does not shrink from seeing the Roman emperors for what they were: 'the west's primal examples of tyranny' ... Dynasty is both a formidable effort to compile what we can know about the ancient world and a sensational story -- Nick Cohen Observer This is a wonderful, surging narrative - a brilliant and meticulous synthesis of the ancient sources ... This is a story that should be read by anyone interested in history, politics or human nature - and it has never been better told -- Boris Johnson Mail on Sunday This is history in which fact and fiction overlap, rigorously researched and lightened with dashes of humour ... first-rate ancient history and a compulsively good read -- Matthew Dennison Daily Mail A swaggering history of the dynastic house that Julius Caesar built. Nothing entertains like excess and the weird cruelties, bloody intrigues and eye-popping depravities of emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero are queasily fascinating Sunday Express A witty and skilful storyteller ... He recounts with pleasure his racy tales of psychopathic cruelty, incest, paedophilia, matricide, fratricide, assassination and depravity -- William Dalrymple New Statesman Brilliant, terrifying and compelling -- Alex Preston Observer A thrilling book by one of the country's best popular historians ... genuinely breathtaking History Today
Tom Holland is the author of Rubicon, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2004; Persian Fire, which won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award 2006; and the highly acclaimed Millennium and In the Shadow of the Sword. He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for BBC Radio.