Caesar's Gallic War

Caesar's Gallic War

by Olivia Coolidge
Trade Paperback, 240 pages
Current Retail Price: $18.99
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Historical Setting: Western Europe, 58-51 B. C.

The years 58 through 50 B.C. were violent ones in the history of the Roman Republic. Julius Caesar had become Governor of Gaul, and as he left for his distant province he knew his rivals Pompey and Crassus would be scheming against him in Rome. He therefore determined he must return to Rome triumphant.

Caesar's own Commentaries tell the events of this period, but, as Olivia Coolidge says in her introduction, " does seem probable that Caesar's book has bored a larger number of children than any other book in the western world. This is hardly Caesar's own fault. He did not write it for beginners in Latin..." To bring to Caesar the audience he deserves she has drawn on the resources of archeology and classical research to add flesh and blood to the characters Caesar mentions and has written not a translation but a companion to Caesar's own book.

In Caesar's Gallic War one comes to have great respect for Caesar despite the barbaric battles he fought. His instinct for war, his decisiveness, his ability to take immediate action, his incredible bravery, the way in which he instilled in his legions an unquestioning devotion that enabled them to surmount almost impossible obstacles—these are but some of the qualities that have made his name and deeds almost legend.

One also comes to have a feeling for his faithful yet ruthless lieutenant, Labienus, the brave centurions, the men of the rank and file, the lesser nobles looking for money and glory, the many two-faced tribal chiefs, and such splendid figures as the great Gallic commander Vercingetorix.

Excitement builds as Caesar battles with the invading Helvetians, the Germans, and with the Belgian. It is at its peak when he meets Pompey and Crassus at the Conference of Lucca and first mentions his daring plan for the conquest of Britain. Excitement remains high as he invades Britain, battles in all part of Gaul, captures Vercingetorix, and finally succeeds in subduing his province.

This is an amazing chronicle of a fascinating period of the world's history. Olivia Coolidge has made the chaos of the times and the whole of Caesar's Gallic War—for his stay in Gaul was really one great war—relive for today's readers.

—from the original dust jacket

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