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Book Summaries

Comprehensive History     Episodic History     Biography     Christian Antiquity     Legends and Literature     Historical Fiction    

Comprehensive History

          Famous Men of Rome  by John Haaren
Attractive biographical sketches of twenty-eight of the most prominent characters in the history of ancient Rome, from its founding to its fall. Includes most of the best known characters from the kingdom and republic of Rome, as well as the most prominent personages from the imperial age. Each story is told in a clear, simple manner, and is well calculated to awaken and stimulate the youthful imagination. [93 sheets]
          The Story of the Romans  by Helene Guerber
Elementary history of Rome, presenting short stories of the great heroes, mythical and historical, from Aeneas and the founding of Rome to the fall of the western empire. Around the famous characters of Rome are graphically grouped the great events with which their names will forever stand connected. Vivid descriptions bring to life the events narrated, making history attractive to the young and awakening their enthusiasm for further reading and study. [115 sheets]
          Stories from Roman History  by Lena Dalkeith
This short book tells stories of many of the several of the most famous characters of Roman History including Horatius, Coriolanus, Hannibal, Fabius, Scipio, Pompey and Julius Caesar. [37 sheets]
          The Story of Rome  by Mary Macgregor
A vivid account of the story of Rome from the earliest times to the death of Augustus, retold for children, chronicling the birth of a city and its growth through storm and struggle to become a great world empire. Gives short accounts of battles and campaigns, and of the men who expanded the borders of the Roman empire to include all lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. [201 sheets]
          Stories from Ancient Rome  by Alfred J. Church
Stories of the early days of Rome, from the time of the kings through the establishment of the republic and its struggles with other peoples on the Italian peninsula, concluding with the wars with Carthage. [37 sheets]
          Story of the Roman People  by Eva March Tappan
This richly illustrated elementary history of Rome is written for younger middle school students and it is divided into three periods of Roman History; kingdom, republic, and empire. The first portion focuses on the legendary events of the seven kings of Rome. The second period covers the major events of the Republic period and the great heroes and villains of the Republican period, such as Cincinnatus, Hannibal, Scipio, Marius, Sulla, Pompey and Caesar. The final section covers the twelve Caesars, the five good emperors, and the fall of Rome. Questions and answers are provided at the end of each chapter. [109 sheets]
          The City of the Seven Hills  by Samuel B. Harding
The middle school history was written for an audience of sixth or seventh grade students. It is divided into about thirty chapters and includes maps, timelines, and other learning aids. The majority of the book focuses on the republican period of Rome, from the war with Lars Porsenna to the rise of Augustus. It covers important social developments in Rome as well as introducing all the major republican characters. [116 sheets]
          On the Shores of the Great Sea    by M. B. Synge
Book I of the Story of the World series. Focuses on the civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea from the time of Abraham to the birth of Christ. Brief histories of the Ancient Israelites, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Scythians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans are given, concluding with the conquest of the entire Mediterranean by Rome. Important myths and legends that preceded recorded history are also related. [74 sheets]
          Historical Tales: Roman  by Charles Morris
Starting with the founding of Rome and continuing until the fall of the western empire, the author has emphasized the most important stories from history, and rewritten them in detail in a manner especially interesting to young adults. Familiar characters such as Cincinnatus, Cicero, and Nero are introduced, but so are more obscure characters such as Jugurtha, Vitellius, and Maximinus. [131 sheets]
          Stories from Livy  by Alfred J. Church
This is a faithful rendition of Livy’s History of Rome, but simplified for the general reader. It covers the period from the founding of Rome, through the Samnite Wars (about 750 to 300 B.C.) Famous stories of the Roman kings and such early heroes as Horatius, Coriolanus, Cincinnatus, Camillus, Manlius, and Mucius (of the Left Hand) are related with their original romance. [75 sheets]
          The Story of Rome  by Arthur Gilman
This history of Rome provides a mature introduction to the most famous conflicts of the Roman Kingdom and Republic. The book is for mature readers who are interested in learning a bit more about the internal politics of Rome that is sometimes neglected in introductory works. The Imperial era is only briefly covered, but several chapters near the end are dedicated to discussing the manners, customs, beliefs and attitudes of the Roman people. [122 sheets]
          The Story of Carthage  by Alfred J. Church
It is unfortunate that most of what is known about Carthage comes through the enemies of this great civilization. The Punic civilization was one of the most advanced in the ancient world, but few native works survived the destruction of Tyre and Carthage. About a third of this book is dedicated to the internal history and legends of the city of Carthage. Most of the rest deals with accounts of the Ancient wars that Carthage engaged in with the Greek on the Island of Sicily, and with the Romans for control of the Western Mediterranean. [108 sheets]
          The Story of the Goths  by Henry Bradley
The Goths were Germanic tribes that migrated to the regions north of the Danube in first few centuries of the Roman Empire. Because of their close proximity to Roman territory, the Goths played an important role the history of the later Roman empire. This book traces the history of the Goths from their first appearance in history in the first century A. D. to the fall of the Visigoth empire in Spain in 711. [144 sheets]
          The Byzantine Empire  by C. W. C. Oman
Although the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century A.D., the Eastern Roman Empire continued to exist, although with a vastly reduced influence until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. This book recounts the history of the Eastern-Roman empire—called the Byzantine Empire in its later years—from its rise under Constantine, to its greatest extent under Justinian, through the disastrous Moslem conquests of the seventh century, through the iconoclast controversies and schism of the tenth century, through the crusades of the later middle ages, and to the final collapse under pressure from the Ottoman Turks. [133 sheets]

Episodic History

          Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Rome  by James Baikie
This book tells the story of Rome from the perspective of a traveler and explains many of the customs and mores of Rome as well as providing an abbreviated history. Much of the history is told by discussing important landmarks and sights. It is a social history and a geographical handbook more than it is a conventional history. [47 sheets]
          Stories in Stone from the Roman Forum  by Isabel Stone
This unusual book about Roman history takes the Roman forum, and the famous buildings therein as a starting point for discussing both the social history, and many legends of the Roman people. It discusses how the forum itself evolved from a market place to the center of the city, and the stories and legends behind such buildings as the Temples of Saturn, Vesta, Castor and Pollux, and Julius Caesar, as well as the courthouse, assembly, and other government buildings. [76 sheets]
          Roman Life in the Days of Cicero  by Alfred J. Church
Cicero’s public life in Rome corresponded to the last four decades of the Roman Republic. He was a young man during the proscriptions of Sulla and Marius, and an old man at the death of Julius Caesar. Although he did not himself write any comprehensive history, his speeches and letters give great insight into the goings-on of the times. This collection of anecdotes is mostly derived from the writings of Cicero, and refer to characters with which he had personal interactions. [78 sheets]
          Roman Life and Story  by Alfred J. Church
This is not a comprehensive history of Rome, but rather a series of stories and anecdotes pertaining to the early years of the empire, specifically the first two centuries A.D. Most of the Emperors between Augustus and Aurelius are portrayed, as well as important characters such as Maecenas, Horace, Agricola, Pliny, Martial, Livia, Seneca, and others. [107 sheets]
          Helmet and Spear    by Alfred J. Church
The major clashes between Greece and Rome, and their despotic or barbarian neighbors is given here. Six major conflicts are covers: the Persian invasion of Greece, the fight between Greece and Carthage for Sicily, the Macedonian Invasion of Persia, the Punic Wars, Rome's early encounters with Barbarian Celts and Germans, and Rome's fall to the Barbarians. [112 sheets]


          Old World Hero Stories    by Eva March Tappan
Short biographies of some of the most important characters of ancient Greece and Rome are given. Some of the subjects include Homer, Lycurgus, Solon, Xerxes, Pericles, Plato, Alexander, Cincinnatus, Hannibal, Caesar, Augustus, and many others. [58 sheets]
          Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Romans  by F. J. Gould
The Children's Plutarch provides a brief biography of most of the Romans who were the subjects of Plutarch's Lives, including Cicero, Caesar, Sulla, Marcellus, Pompey, Numa, Romulus, Coriolanus, and many others. The essays are not complete biographies, but brief sketches that usually illustrate a few simple moral lessons about the character of the subject. The complexity level is very appropriate for younger children. [69 sheets]
          Plutarch's Lives    by W. H. Weston
Instead of including all fifty biographies, Weston focuses only on twelve of Plutarch's most famous subjects. His work is therefore able to retain a great deal more of the character of Plutarch's original narrative than more highly condensed versions. Since Plutarch was a moral philosopher as well as a biographer, retaining the tone and dialogue of the original collection is key to understanding his contribution to Western thought. [167 sheets]
          Augustus    by Rene Francis
This biography of Octavio (Caesar Augustus) does an excellent job of explaining what the state of Rome's affairs were in the years following the death of Julius Caesar in easy to understand terms. It explains why Octavio's organizational abilities, and tact were so effective at stabilizing the republic at a critical juncture and laying the foundation of an empire. [56 sheets]
          Julius Caesar    by Ada Russell
The life of Julius Caesar spans one of the most fascinating and important periods in all of Ancient history, and this book does an excellent job of bringing all the characters of the age to life. The first century B.C. saw the collapse of a corrupt republic, a number of savage civil wars, and the rise of a relatively benign tyranny under Caesar. The book devotes just enough attention to the political dramas of the time to give intermediate students some idea of the vicious politicking of the era, without being tiring. [74 sheets ]
          Herman and Thusnelda    by George P. Upton
Hermann was a chieftain who defeated the Roman army at the battle of Teutoburg Forest, a defeat which ultimately drove the Romans from Germany. This story of his life is based on historical accounts but also romanticizes the Norse gods and legends that animated the German heroes. [41 sheets]
          Our Young Folk's Plutarch    by Rosalie Kaufman
Our Young Folks' Plutarch is an excellent reference book for anyone studying Greek or Roman History. The author provides significantly shortened but still thorough biographies of every life that Plutarch wrote. Missing of course, is much of Plutarch's original commentary, but that is unavoidable in a significantly abridged work. [259 sheets]
          Romulus  by Jacob Abbott
Story of the early days of Rome, beginning with the flight of Aeneas from Troy and his landing in Latium, continuing with the rivalry of Romulus and Remus, and culminating in the founding of Rome. [80 sheets]
          Hannibal  by Jacob Abbott
An account of the life of the famous Carthaginian general who acquired distinction as a warrior by his desperate contests with the Romans. This lively treatment of the Punic Wars graphically depicts Hannibal's crossing of the Alps with his elephants, the battles he waged in Italy, his eventual defeat, and the ultimate destruction of Carthage. [78 sheets]
          Julius Caesar  by Jacob Abbott
Caesar remains one of the most controversial and fascinating characters in world history. He was a man of action with many battles to his credit, including the Gallic Wars, Pharsalia, and the Alexandrine War. But he was even more so a mastermind. He laid the groundwork for the empire with his brilliant reorganization of the legions, and his plan for consolidation of power. He was a master statesman as well as a general, and won over as many rivals with diplomacy as he did on the battlefield. [72 sheets]
          Cleopatra  by Jacob Abbott
The story of Cleopatra starts with a brief history of Egypt and the illustrious Ptolemies. By the time Cleopatra comes of age, her life is already embroiled in danger and intrigue, even before her romantic encounter with Julius Caesar. Under the protection of Caesar, she enjoys a few years of security on the throne of Egypt, but the Death of Caesar leads her to seek protection from his successor, Mark Antony. Their tragic story is one of the most dramatic liaisons in history. [84 sheets]
          Nero  by Jacob Abbott
The story of Nero is also the story of much of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The bloody legacies of the previous emperors Caligula, and Claudius, are introduced before delving into Nero’s own reign of intrigue, murder, and atrocities. Not to be outdone, the women of the family, including Nero’s mother, Agrippina, his wife Poppaea, and the empress Messalina contribute their share of villainy to the tale. The death of Nero provides a pathetic testimony to the cowardice that oftentimes underlies tyranny. [82 sheets]

Christian Antiquity

          Christian Antiquity    by Sisters of Notre Dame
First of a five volume history of the Church, this book covers the period from the founding of the Church at Pentecost to the fall of the Roman Empire. During that time the church underwent horrific persecutions, but nevertheless spread over the whole Roman Empire and produced thousands of worthy saints. [47 sheets]
          Stories of Saints and Martyrs    by Jetta S. Wolff
This book includes the stories of over 32 saints, and includes sections on the Early Fathers (Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus), the Saints of Ireland (Patrick, Columba, Columbanus), as well many saints of the Calendar, ranging from martyrs of the third century, to saints of Mediaeval England. Most of the stories of martyrs are from the first three centuries of Church history when thousands of Christains perished under Roman persecution. [62 sheets]
          The Early Church  by George Hodges
This book gives a detailed history of the first four centuries of the Christian Church. Important topics include the struggle between Christianity and Pagan Rome, early persecutions, early heresies, and the establishment of monasticism in both the Greek-speaking east, and the West. The Arian controversy is explained in detail, and the life stories of many of the early church fathers are introduced. [105 sheets]
          The Jews Under Roman Rule  by W. D. Morrison
This book focuses on the role of the Jewish states and people during the period of Roman rule. When the Romans first encountered Judaea, the province was already under the influence of the Macedonian empire. The Romans gave the Jewish state a great deal of autonomy, but tried to integrate it into the greater empire, and the Jewish people, largely due to a resurgence of religious fervor, rebelled. The Roman Jewish rebellions continued throughout the first and second centuries, and affected not only the Jews, but also the Christian communities that had sprung from them. [143 sheets]
          Last Days of Jerusalem (Josephus)  by Alfred J. Church
Based on The Jewish War by Josephus, this book tells the dramatic story of the bravery, fanaticism, and treachery which lead to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Josephus was an eyewitness to the events, first as Jewish leader in a neighboring town that fell the Romans, then as Roman captive. He tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the zealots holding Jerusalem and save the city from destruction. [47 sheets]

Legends and Literature

          Kingdom of Jupiter, Gods and Heroes  by R.E. Francillon
A retelling of Greek and Roman myths and legends. After introducing the major gods, he proceeds to tell the most important legends, including those of Orpheus, Perseus, Theseus, Jason, and Hercules. Roman nomenclature rather than Greek is used, so this book would be an appropriate supplement when studying Roman History. [101 sheets]
          The Aeneid  by Alfred J. Church
Relates in vigorous prose the tale of Aeneas, the legendary ancestor of Romulus, who escaped from the burning city of Troy and wandered the Mediterranean for years before settling in Italy. Patterned after the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Aeneid was composed as an epic poem by Virgil, to glorify the imperial city of Rome. [59 sheets]

Historical Fiction

          Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago    by Julia Darrow Cowles
Story about Marcus, who lived in the final years of the Roman Republic during the age of Julius Caesar and Cicero. The focus of the book however, is not on political events, but on the everyday life of a boy growing to manhood during the close of the Republican era.
          Our Little Carthaginian Cousin of Long Ago    by C. V. Winlow
Story about a Carthaginian boy named Hanno, who lived during the era between the first and second Punic Wars. He rescues his sister from the murderous priests of Carthage, and eventually joins the army of Hannibal.
          Burning of Rome    by Alfred J. Church
This book covers a dramatic period of Nero’s reign, encompassing the catastrophic fire that destroyed Rome, and also the rebellion, known as Piso’s Conspiracy, that soon followed. Virtually all of the characters in this book are based on historical Romans, and the levels of treachery, cowardice, martyrdom, and villainy displayed by the characters in this drama would be incredible if it were not actually true. [115 sheets]
          To the Lions    by Alfred J. Church
This story of Christian persecution in the second century A.D. is fictional, details about the circumstances of their lives are well documented. The story does an excellent job of showing how the persecutions were often local affairs, instigated by regional jealousies, rather than top-down affairs. The conversations between Pliny the Younger, who was governor of Bithynia, and the historian Tacitus, reflect the sentiments of the Roman intelligentsia regarding the Christians at this time. [70 sheets]
          Lords of the World    by Alfred J. Church
The hero of this book is a Greek enemy of Rome, who is present during the siege of Carthage, and who travels back and forth to Greece, vainly trying to resist the all-conquering Romans. During the course of his trials he befriends Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian general, Polybius, the great historian of the Punic Wars, and Scipio the Younger, the general who conquers Carthage and reluctantly destroys it. During the course of the struggle, he begins to understand the weaknesses of the Greek and Punic civilizations, and why they are so completely unable to resist the domination of Rome. [131 sheets]
          Lucius: Adventures of a Roman Boy    by Alfred J. Church
Lucius comes of age in first century Rome, during the age of Cicero and Pompey, and is sent on his first assignment to Sicily. On his way, however, he is attacked by Spartacus’s rebels, captured by Mediterranean pirates, and involved in various other adventures. Eventually he ends up in Asia Minor where he visits eastern kingdoms and becomes involved in the was with Mithridates. The book covers a complicated era in Rome’s history, and many of the reasons for the decline of the Republic are made clear. [137 sheets]
          Crown of Pine    by Alfred J. Church
This books depicts life in the Roman Empire in the first fifty years after the birth of Christ. Most of the action takes place in Corinth, which has been rebuilt after the Romans razed it in 146 B.C. The plot involves an athlete who is training to compete in the Corinthian games, but most of the characters are merchants, exiled Jews, and various other townsfolk. An important subplot involves some early Christians who have personally befriended St. Paul, and are members of the Corinthian church. [92 sheets]

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