The dramatic story of Rome’s first emperor, who plunged into Rome’s violent power struggles at the age of nineteen, proceeded to destroy all rivals, and more than anyone else created the Roman Empire
Caesar Augustus’ story, one of the most riveting in Western history, is filled with drama and contradiction, risky gambles and unexpected success. Thrusting himself into Rome’s extremely violent politics while yet a very young man, Augustus skillfully maneuvered his way through twisting alliances during years of civil war. Named heir to the murdered Julius Caesar, he outwitted and outlasted far more experienced rivals like Antony and Brutus. Ruling supreme, he reinvented himself as a benevolent man of peace and created a new system of government.
In this highly anticipated biography Goldsworthy puts his deep knowledge of ancient sources to full use, recounting the events of Augustus’ long life in greater detail than ever before. Goldsworthy pins down the man behind the myths: a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless. Under Augustus’ rule the empire prospered, yet his success was never assured and the events of his life unfolded with exciting unpredictability. Goldsworthy captures the passion and savagery, the public image and private struggles of the real man whose epic life continues to influence Western history.
"Superb. . . . Augustus is a first-rate popular biography by a skilled and knowing hand, a fine companion to Goldsworthy’s Caesar."—Steve Donoghue, Washington Post
"Impressive . . . Mr. Goldsworthy . . . moves nimbly around other important evidence about Augustus’ life . . . The resulting life is, in one sense, deeply unified. This is a welcome corrective to traditional presentations."—Brendan Boyle, Wall Street Journal
"Goldsworthy's true expertise is as a military historian, and this is what really gives his biography its strength and bite: his depiction of Augustus's relationship with his legions is masterly."—Robert Harris, London Sunday Times
"Goldsworthy capably guides us over the rapids of 'modern scholarship.' He challenges stories that are repeated often but never questioned, . . . [and] is particularly sound on senatorial power struggles and the use of marriage to cement or break political alliances. . . . [Augustus] is the most trustworthy [portrait] we are likely to get."—Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph
"[Goldsworthy,] the author of the best-selling Caesar: The Life of a Colossus, . . . relates [Augustus’] military victories, the hairbreadth escapes, the diplomatic successes and the dark family quarrels with a storyteller’s brio, bringing alive the empire’s tense standoffs with Eastern kingdoms such as Parthia and along the way giving us some quite wonderful readings of poets such as Virgil and Horace. . . . [Goldsworthy’s] insights and inferences are superb throughout. . . . Augustus is a first-rate popular biography by a skilled and knowing hand, a fine companion to Goldsworthy’s Caesar volume."—Steve Donoghue, Washington Post
"Historian and biographer Goldsworthy (Caesar) showcases his deep knowledge of Ancient Rome in this masterful document of a life whose themes still resonate in modern times. . . . A strong narrative emphasis ties the work together and is enriched by evocative details of Roman life. . . . The overall effect that Goldsworthy generates is of meeting a man whose life seems hardly distant from the modern experience. While ancient cultural practices can often feel foreign, the political motivations and machinations, the familial relations and emotions, ring as true today as at the turn of the Common Era."—Publishers Weekly, starred review