• The Spartacus War

  • By: Barry Strauss
  • Narrated by: Ray Grover
  • Length: 6 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (235 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Spartacus War is the extraordinary story of the most famous slave rebellion in the ancient world, the fascinating true story behind a legend that has been the inspiration for novelists, filmmakers, and revolutionaries for 2,000 years.

Starting with only 74 men, a gladiator named Spartacus incited a rebellion that threatened Rome itself. With his fellow gladiators, Spartacus built an army of 60,000 soldiers and controlled the southern Italian countryside. A charismatic leader, he used religion to win support. An ex-soldier in the Roman army, Spartacus excelled in combat. He defeated nine Roman armies and kept Rome at bay for two years before he was defeated. After his final battle, 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along Rome's main southern highway.

The Spartacus War is the dramatic and factual account of one of history's great rebellions. Spartacus was beaten by a Roman general, Crassus, who had learned how to defeat an insurgency. But the rebels were partly to blame for their failure. Their army was large and often undisciplined; the many ethnic groups within it frequently quarreled over leadership. No single leader, not even Spartacus, could keep them all in line. And when faced with a choice between escaping to freedom and looting, the rebels chose wealth over liberty, risking an eventual confrontation with Rome's most powerful forces. The result of years of research, The Spartacus War is based not only on written documents but also on archaeological evidence, historical reconstruction, and the author's extensive travels in the Italian countryside that Spartacus once conquered.

©2009 Barry Strauss (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Strauss admits the lack of reliable primary sources has forced him to engage in some tricky conjectures regarding the character and motivation of Spartacus. Still, many of his assertions are credible, and his efforts to portray the political and social milieu of Italy during the late Republic are superbly done. Strauss sees Spartacus as a brave and charismatic leader who was limited by some personal shortcomings." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about The Spartacus War

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting

This is a story of the gladiator, Spartacus. He was brought from Thrace (Bulgaria) to fight in an area in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. In about 73 to 71 B.C. Spartacus and seventy other gladiators broke out armed with kitchen utensils. For two years he led a growing band of runaway slaves in a revolt. Strauss points out that Spartacus was a Murmillo gladiator who had served as a Thracian auxiliary to the Roman Army where he learned Roman military tactics.

Strauss is a Professor of Classics at Cornell University. Strauss has a fine balance between accessibility and scholarship, imagination and responsibility. It is not always an easy balance to strike but Strauss did a good job. The book reads like a thriller but grounded in history. Strauss wove history into an exciting story.

The author points out that the goal of the rebellion was vengeance not to abolish slavery. Strauss stresses that Spartacus had exceptional principles and he liked the idea of equality. Spartacus died charging the Roman general Crassus who led the campaign against him.

Strauss has not only created a history of the slave war but a campanian travelogue. The book was well written and easy to read for a history book. Roy Grover narrated the book.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fun and informative, narration lacking

The narrator does not know how to pronounce anything, was there nobody double checking him?!?! Pompey and Pompeii are different words!!!

2 people found this helpful

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a good clear overall of the famous events

the facts are well separate from legend and Assumption. even fans of the Stars over sexy and violent Spartacus will find this overall fact from truth interesting. i was surprise how much..( and who) was really part of history. so much isn't known but i felt i got a proper understanding of there war of the damned. only thing i wondered about was the author was very sure he was a Thraicin .. i had always heard we couldn't be sure.
also don't remember any issue with reader.. so i guess it was fine

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

Frankly this could have been half the length. There is little source material on this particular Roman war and the author stretched it out considerably with a great number of suppositions, guesses and imaginings. The narrator was capable most of the time but many of his pronunciations were terrible. The worst of which was his pronunciation of Celts with a soft “c”. Can’t recommend this unless you know nothing of this period and are happy to accept suggestions as to what might have happened.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant Story.

Strauss wove a fascinating narrative from limited sources.

Good clear narration, BUT when while Audible voice actors take the time to learn the proper pronounceation of names and places!

1 person found this helpful

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One of the better books about history!

Would you listen to The Spartacus War again? Why?

I will listen to it again, this guy should write text books about history! I couldn't stop listening, I expected your typical dry fact based history book. Instead I got fact based history presented with engaging analysis!

Who was your favorite character and why?

It wasn't that kind of book, but the constant review of the Leadership styles made this book a non-stop listen...

Which character – as performed by Ray Grover – was your favorite?

Not really a character driven book, but even knowing Rome wins the writer makes you wish they had not! The voice is so smooth you become lost in the writing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This is that rare book that's read AFTER seeing the Starz TV series!

Any additional comments?

Buy this book even if you HATE history as a subject and crack a beer...

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable read for fans of Roman history...

But the only significant flaw I noticed was in the performance: riddled with bad pronunciation. Good read otherwise I thought

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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One hour of material packaged into 7 hours

The author notes, rightly and honestly, that little is known about Spartacus and then he goes on to prove it by speculating again and again. This should be a chapter in a book, not a book. Sorry, but this is not worth a read/listen.

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Audible won't play past intro chapter.

Can't listen to anything past the first chapter. Defeats the purpose of Audible. Only one of my Audible books actually works.

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great listen

I was intrigued by the story of Spartacus. The book is a little dry but usually these types of books are. I truly love the fact the author didn't insert his opinions as fact. he states sources and probabilities in cases where some factual information has been lost. If you love history in general you will enjoy this book. If you love ancient Rome it is a must read.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave
  • 10-27-10

Will the real Spartacus please stand...

This book freely admits that the evidence for the Spartacus war is thin on the ground and often contradictory, so if you only wanted to stick to known facts than you could barely fill a pamphlet. As it turns out 6+ hours is a pretty good length as the author does much to flesh out the facts with a good background of the period and a number of suppositions which may or may not be true but help to keep the story going. I can't vouch for the authenticity, but the book does well in telling the story and describing the world in which it occurred.

I found the American accent of the narrator jarring at first, but he reads well enough. The repeated insertion of modern names for ancient places is quite annoying, particularly when they are little different, but anyone interested in the Republican Roman world will enjoy this book.

7 people found this helpful