Friday, January 7, 2011

Gwyn Morgan - 69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors

Just thought I'd share with you what I've been reading lately: 69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors, by Gwyn Morgan.

All the documentation work that went into writing this book is impressive, I'd recommend it without a doubt to anybody doing serious research on that period. Not so much to those who just want to read something simply for their enjoyment. (Yes, I know. Who reads history books for enjoyment anyway? Well, I do. Maybe there are others out there just like me - in outer space or somewhere.)

The book is a little dry - given that it's one of the juiciest years in history, it could have been a bit more alert, without falling into sensationalism. Also, considering that it's one of the best documented moments, with several of the major Roman historians relating the events, I feel that modern authors might try to express some personal ideas on the subject - even if it's just a footnote, originality hasn't killed anyone. Ok, maybe it has killed a few academic careers, but I'm not recommending high doses, just a little food for the thoughts of those amateur readers like myself.

One thing the book definitely needs is more maps. Lots of maps, since the author dwells so much on describing the campaigns and the routes of the armies. Hopefully the editors will take the hint and include some maps in the next edition; until then, read it with a good historical atlas at hand.

The first century is still one of the coolest times in history for me, by the way. Vespasian rules. So does Tacitus.