The Conquest of Gaul (Penguin Classics)

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9780140440218: The Conquest of Gaul (Penguin Classics)

Between 58 and 50BC Caesar conquered most of the area now covered by France, Belgium and Switzerland, and twice invaded Britain. This is the record of his campaigns. Caesar's narrative offers insights into his military strategy & paints a fascinating picture of his encounters with the inhabitant of Gaul and Britain, as well as offering lively portraits of a number of key characters such as the rebel leaders and Gallic chieftains. This can also be read as a piece of political propaganda, as Caesar sets down his version of events for the Roman public, knowing that he faces civil war on his return to Rome.

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Review:

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres... It is, perhaps, the most famous opening line of any memoir in Western civilization. What Caesar and the Romans called "Gaul," although we usually think of it as France, also comprised Belgium, the German lands west of the Rhine, southern Holland, and much of Switzerland. This is the only military campaign of the ancient world for which we have a chronicle written by the general who conducted it, and Julius Caesar is an insightful historian, with a keen eye for detail, as in this scene from the repulsion of the forces of the German king Ariovistus:

Caesar placed each of his five generals ahead of a legion and detailed his quaestor to command the remaining legion, so that every soldier might know that there was a high officer in a position to observe the courage with which he conducted himself, and then led the right wing first into action, because he had noticed that the enemy's line was weakest on that side.

About the Author:

Gaius Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC into an ancient patrician family. Much of his life was spent on military campaigns, & he returned to govern Rome as dictator. His dictatorship was declared perpetual in 44 BC, but his many bitter enemies hatched a conspiracy & assasinated him later that year.

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Caesar, Julius
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Julius Caesar
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