The Conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar

Title:  The Conquest of Gaul
Author: Julius Caesar
Translated: S. A. Handford
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: 1982
ISBN: 9780140444339

As the situation was critical and no reserves were available, Caesar snatched a shield from a soldier in the rear (he had not his own shield with him), made his way into the front line, addressed each centurion by name, and shouted encouragement to the rest of the troops, ordering them to push forward and open out their ranks, so that they could use their swords more easily. His coming gave them fresh heart and hope: each man wanted to do his best under the eyes of his commander-in-chief, however desperate the peril, and the enemy’s assault was slowed…

-Book II, “The Conquest of the Belgic Tribes, “section 2,
“Piecemeal conquest of the Belgic tribes (57 B.C.),
paragraph 25, lines 6 and 7.

First off, let me preface this review by saying this is not a book I would have ever picked for myself to read. It was a randomly assigned book from Penguin Classics to review. Second, it was not the book originally assigned. The first book had been Fortress Besieged, which I was really excited to get but was unfortunately out of print. And third, I must inform you of the following caveat: I was woefully unable to finish the book. It just was NOT my cuppa.

All that being said, on with the review:

Julius Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul is basically the battle reports from a general, Caesar, to his boss, the Roman Senate and the people of Rome, detailing the events, names and places of his campaigns in Germany, Gaul and Britiannia. It is not war reportage full of excitement and suspense and suspense, but a simple list of details. For what it is, a historical accounting of the Roman push into northern Europe, it is an excellent, informative book to study. And as you study The Conquest of Gaul, make sure to keep your notepad, pen, highlighters and post-it flags handy so that you can get the most out of it. It would also help to be previously acquainted with the histories of the area and peoples in it before picking this book up as it is dense with names and events that would have been common knowledge for the people of the day, but have lost a lot of meaning in the millenniums that have passed.

For me, the book was intolerably boring, but that’s just a taste thing, however I did learn a great deal. For one thing, Caesar was a brilliant strategist and tactician. He was able to see ways to defeat the enemy that completely amazes me. His confidence in his abilities and that of his men, made him feared and respected by those who attempted to oppose his Rome. Some of the battles were won when the warring tribe was informed Caesar was on his way. They would send envoys of unconditional surrender and a plea of mercy to him before he’d even reached their land. He is, without a doubt, one of the top military minds in history.

Not only was Caesar a brilliant soldier and commander, but he was also a man of dedication and honor. He valued his word and made certain it was upheld. He followed a code of ethics that showed the people of Gaul what a civilized people can be.  Romanization was inevitable under Caesar. Tribes converted from barbarianism and fictionalized feuding to peaceful alliances. It is debated what Caesar’s political motivations were, whether he craved dictatorship or he was truly desirous of Rome’s best interests. I personally believe Caesar was less of the manipulative power-hungry megalomaniac I was taught in school, and more the noble patrician who wanted equality for citizens as opposed to the oligarchic political system of the time. He was the Man of the People who became their beloved Emporer, their first Caesar (as a title and office) of many.

I give Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul 4 out of 5 stars. It’s informative and a classic, though very dry and it’s strictly text book-style writing bored me to distraction.

TSS – Middle-aged Vampire adopts Malevolent Child

The Sunday Salon.com

I’ve been much happier with myself this week. I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. I finished The Richest Season, registered my 15-year-old for school, read Twilight(my high-schooler was shocked about that. She said, “Everybody in my school’s reading those!” I guess I’m hip?), read and reread and re-reread Cherise the Niece, accomplished my goal today of finishing Book One in Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul… which may be the death of me, and am almost a fourth of the way through When We Were Romans… which I’m not sure if I like it or not, but at least it’s simple and short.

I also started a meme (even if it’s a meme of two… thanks Suey) this week called Viral Video Wednesday. A lot of people left their videos in the comment section, as well. This weeks was VVW – Numa Numa. A post dedicated to the history and evolution of Numa Numa. bermudaonion gave me the idea for next weeks, so check back in to see. I’m still trying to figure out how to slip Mr. Safety in next week’s post.

As promised, Today is the day I announce the winner of the signed copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale. Again, I used Research Randomizer because it’s free… Random.org charges money… and the random number is 17, which is The Eighth Art! With only one entry I might add… Buy a lottery ticket, today seems to be your lucky day! So email me your address so I can send you your beautifully illustrated, heartwarming book :-) Check in on Monday, when I will announce my next giveaway!

The Sunday Salon -Tan Lines and Lemonade Stands

The Sunday Salon.com

For some reason, I feel this week has been very unproductive. I’ve really only read one book this week, Tan Lines. I finished Sana Krasikov’s One More Year, and I’m about halfway through The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deavers.

I did receive a nomination for the Brilliante Weblog Premio 2008 award, finished my interview with Nam Le, author of The Boat. Technocrati set spiders loose, LT recommendations were discussed and favorite lines from books were shared.  But I still only read one book. :-(

Part of the reason for only reading one book is I can’t seem to keep away from the computer.  If I would just keep my happy butt off of it I could get some things done.  That problem will be remedied this week since Sammi, my 15-year-old, has come back from her dad’s and she’ll be taking over the ‘puter.  A second impediment to reading this week is people won’t leave me alone!  I no sooner than crack the spine and the phone rings or there’s a knock at the door.  Someone selling Amway products came by this week… Amway?!  I thought they were run out of the country back in the 80′s. 

Friday and Saturday I got nothing read… at all.  No, correct that, I got the same paragraph read… over and over… of Julius Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul.  Mags had Vacation Bible School this week and Friday was the program for their families.  Then she was invited to go to Indiana Beach, so she had a Fresh Baked Cookies and Lemonade stand yesterday.

Okay, when did a child showing inititive and motivation become the equivelent to begging? My stinky-head neighbors (the ones I don’t like) treated her like a leper because she was hawking her wares. She gave up on the stand after an hour and took her products door to door (just on our block where I could see her). She made enough to go, but her friend never came and picked her up to go. What the heck happened to decency? If her mom had decided she couldn’t take a friend, or if she’d picked a different friend as her plus one, she could’ve called to let Mags know. People!

-)

Mags and Sam with their blue tongues :-)

Then, of course, Sam came home and wanted to get her 3-weeks-attention last night. Mags missed her, as did their friend across the street, and they played until 10:30 to 11 o’clock last night.

So, here I am… nothing much in the way of bookish things to report. Last week was the fair, this week… not much excuse. Next week I’m gonna make it up and get three books done. I swear!! :-D

Oh, I almost forgot! My First Ever Giveaway!! has 691 entries. Prizes are now the $20 Borders gift card, plus two $10, and a $5 gift card. Another 9 entries, and I’m throwing in another $5, which makes the total prizes add up to $50. But, I’m thinking 700 entries is pretty monumental, so I’m giving the grand prize winner a mystery prize to boot. So don’t forget to enter!

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