The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster, March 2015) examines the traditions of the assassination of Julius Caesar, clearing up the myths (such as Shakespeare’s play) from reality. Analyzing such an historic event from 44 B.C. is not easy since eyewitness accounts are few and far between and records of supposed eyewitnesses are always questioned. Yet, Strauss’s book provides an entertaining and thorough examination of the most pressing people and events leading up to the assassination, the deed itself, and the immediate result.
I am not an historian of the era that Strauss writes about, and so some things from history needed to be reviewed before I could get in to the book. “Crossing the Rubicon,” and Julius Caesar’s early life history were important events to be familiar with, and I was grateful for my many readings of Shakespeare’s play, since Strauss frequently discussed what other sources said versus what Shakespeare’s play suggested. I enjoyed learning about the different people involved in the situation, and was interested in how the Ides of March played out in the end for the perpetrators. (Spoiler: not good.)
In the end, I can’t say that The Death of Caesar was a page-turning fascination, but I was quite surprised by how interested I became in it as I continued reading. I guess that is one of the blessings of having free time during a summer vacation to read: I can let myself get lost in a historical world with which I was not previously familiar.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher.