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Ancient Rome: A History
Second Edition

D. Brendan Nagle, University of Southern California

Available March 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59738-042-3
475 pages / paper / student price $61.95

Table of Contents (with sample chapters)

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Reviewer Comments


Ancient Rome, 2/E by D. Brendan Nagle covers the history of Rome from its legendary founding in 753 B.C. to A.D. 732, when the Frankish successors of Rome turned back the conquering Arabs at the Battle of Poitiers. 


Well illustrated with figures, photos, and original maps, the text is organized into seven parts, each covering a major issue or period of Roman history:

  1. The founding of the city and the rise of Rome as a power in the Mediterranean
  2. The fall of the Republic
  3. The refounding of Rome under Augustus
  4. The consolidation of the Principate
  5. Factors and institutions that held the Empire together
  6. Rome on the defense in the Third Century A.D.
  7. The world of Late Antiquity

The events and chronologies are subordinated to a series of master narrative questions which are developed in the introductions to the major sections of the text. 

  • Why did Rome succeed in creating an empire based on the city-state when every other Mediterranean city-state that attempted to do so failed?
  • Why did the government of the Republic collapse after its stunning military success allowed it to conquer most of the Mediterranean and a good portion of Europe? 
  • Even more astonishingly, how did the Republic, phoenix-like, revive and recreate itself? 
  • And finally, in the fourth century A.D., how did Rome redesign itself under pressure from a resurgent Persia, the numerous warrior bands, and migrating peoples of the West?

Special attention is given to the early growth of Rome in Italy; the art and architectural program of Augustus; and the factors that sustained the Roman Empire; the world of Late Antiquity, the rise of Abrahamic religions; and the revolutionary role of monotheism in the culture of the classical world.


Click here to learn about Nancy Demand's History of Ancient Greece in Its Mediterranean Context, 4/E


Reviewer reaction:

The focus on the family was very well conceived.... I could imagine students following it and being interested in it. It is admirably clear and one ends up thinking, "Now I really understand what the Romans were like."

                    Ramsay MacMullen, Yale University



Ancient Rome: A History stands well above any Roman history textbook I have seen, and I have read, purchased, assigned, or examined a great many of them. There are at least four reasons for its excellence. The first of these is its scope. It begins by setting Rome within its all-important Mediterranean and Italian setting and encompasses the whole of Late Antiquity to approximately a.d. 700, giving due attention to the Byzantine Empire, the Germanic kingdoms and the rise of Islam. Second, it does not merely describe what happened: By viewing Roman history as a process of problems and solutions, it reveals why it happened. This is particularly evident in its discussions of the rise of Rome, the Punic Wars, the Augustan settlement, and the factors that held the Roman Empire together. Third, it concentrates much of its attention to what was the true strength of Rome: its institutions. These include its political and administrative system, its social structure, its army and its belief systems. Fourth, it is written in an extremely clear style that combines intelligibility with intelligence. It also features a very useful glossary and several equally valuable tables. In short, this is the Roman textbook to buy, read and assign.

                    Lee Reams, Chaffey College



This is far better than any other Roman history textbook I have seen (in more than one language).... The three strongest features are the problem-centered approach; the emphasis on contextualization and analysis; its chronological scope (up to the 8th century)....



[The problem-centered] approach is the principal distinguishing characteristic of the book and makes it stand out among existing titles.  This means that for the first time it gives instructors real choice between conventional narrative and problem-centered account and analysis.

                    Walter Scheidel, Stanford University




Nagle has a very clear and comprehensible writing style.  I don't get the impression that he is dumbing down his text, nor do I find words that might baffle my students....  He pays attention to details.... Transition from one topic to the next is good, so that the narrative flows well.



In my view, this section (Chapters 15 & 16) is perhaps the strongest part of the textbook.  Nagle effectively conveys an excellent sense of the process of Romanization, both in terms of the government and army (Chapter 15) and the social and cultural factors (Chapter 16).  I have never seen a better description of the actual operation of Roman government after the Augustan settlement.  His examples and primary sources are very effectively used.

                    Jane Laurent, University of North Carolina, Charlotte.