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PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, 2016

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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781405533034

Price: £18.99

ON SALE: 3rd September 2015

Genre: Humanities / History

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Dynasty tells the story of Rome’s first dynasty of emperors, from its establishment by Augustus Caesar in the last decades of the 1st century BC to its final, florid extinction less than a century later. The line of autocrats known to historians as the ‘Julio-Claudians’ remains to this day a byword for depravity. The brilliance of its allure and the blood-steeped shadows cast by its crimes still haunt the public imagination. When people think of imperial Rome, it is the city of Tiberius and Caligula, of Claudius and Nero that is most likely to come into their minds.

In Dynasty, Tom Holland provides not only a compelling history of this fascinating family, but a portrait of the entire Roman world.


This is great material, and Holland does it justice with a chiseled prose style and an eye for the luminous detail.... Holland is a master of narrative history. On the strength of Dynasty, he deserves a laurel wreath
Washington Post
A richly panoramic picture of Rome in the first century AD
Allan Massie, Literary Review
A thrilling book by one of the country's best popular historians . . . genuinely breathtaking
History Today
Thrilling, thunderous prose, fully equal to that of the great days of Thermopylae and Salamis
Wall Street Journal
Dynasty, like its companion volume Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, is a fine example of narrative historical writing. Yet you could also read it as something else entirely: a meditation on the enduring power and possibilities of storytelling
Richard Miles, Financial Times
Holland has crafted a history of early Rome that has all the gripping detail and narrative momentum of a novel... he gives the reader a startlingly visceral sense of the violence and brutality and wretched excess of ancient Rome
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Holland writes with all the excitement and immediacy of the gossip-mongers of Rome . . . One senses that if Tom Holland were emperor for the day he would give the crowd not only the bread and circuses but a jolly good education too
Daisy Dunn, Evening Standard
Holland is at the top of his game, blending deep scholarly skill with real literary talent
Dan Jones, Evening Standard
Holland is perhaps Britain's most engrossing historical storyteller. He has a rare gift of combining academic respectability with a great knack as a narrator
Catholic Herald
A vivid account of five Roman emperors, emphasizing their vices and vicious behavior with less attention to the vast empire, which continued to prosper despite them
Holland's Tacitean vision of the dynasty of Augustus makes for a very compelling read
Times Literary Supplement
Dynasty has Holland's usual novelistic ability to bring a narrative alive, together with his extraordinary command of ancient sources
New York Times Book Review
[A] dramatic, intrigue-ridden, blood-and-guts tale of Rome's first line of emperors
Peter Jones, The Times
A witty and skilful storyteller . . . He recounts with pleasure his racy tales of psychopathic cruelty, incest, paedophilia, matricide, fratricide, assassination and depravity
William Dalrymple, New Statesman
Deft and skilful . . . Among the many virtues of Tom Holland's terrific history is that he does not shrink from seeing the Roman emperors for what they were: 'the west's primal examples of tyranny' . . . Dynasty is both a formidable effort to compile what we can know about the ancient world and a sensational story
Nick Cohen, Observer
Brilliant, terrifying and compelling
Alex Preston, Observer
This is a wonderful, surging narrative - a brilliant and meticulous synthesis of the ancient sources . . . This is a story that should be read by anyone interested in history, politics or human nature - and it has never been better told
Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday
A swaggering history of the dynastic house that Julius Caesar built. Nothing entertains like excess and the weird cruelties, bloody intrigues and eye-popping depravities of emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero are queasily fascinating
Sunday Express
This is history in which fact and fiction overlap, rigorously researched and lightened with dashes of humour . . . first-rate ancient history and a compulsively good read
Matthew Dennison, Daily Mail
Holland's masterly account of this first wicked century of the Roman empire is, at its heart, a political analysis . . . the story he tells strides onwards across the landscape of grief and horror without pause or stutter . . . Holland is unshockable as he proceeds with breezy, clear-eyed analysis from one degrading display of cruelty and paranoia to the next . . . It is down to his skill as a storyteller that there's no difficulty in imagining that it might all happen again tomorrow
Adam Nicholson, Sunday Times