On Our Shelves Now
From a “remarkably gifted historian” (New York Times), the definitive account of the golden age of Rome -- an ultimate superpower at the pinnacle of its greatness
The Pax Romana has long been shorthand for the empire’s golden age. Stretching from Caledonia to Arabia, Rome ruled over a quarter of the world’s population. It was the wealthiest and most formidable state in the history of humankind.
Pax is a captivating narrative history of Rome at the height of its power. From the gilded capital to realms beyond the frontier, historian Tom Holland shows ancient Rome in all its glory: Nero’s downfall, the destruction of Jerusalem and Pompeii, the building of the Colosseum and Hadrian’s Wall, the conquests of Trajan. Vividly sketching the lives of Romans both ordinary and spectacular, from slaves to emperors, Holland shows that Roman peace was the fruit of unprecedented military violence.
A stunning portrait of Rome’s glory days, this is the epic history of the Pax Romana.
About the Author
Tom Holland is an award-winning historian of the ancient world, a translator of Greek and Roman classical texts, and a documentary writer. He is the author of six other books, including Rubicon, Persian Fire, and Dominion. He contributes regularly to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He co-presents the podcast The Rest Is History. He lives in London.
“A lively survey of Roman warfare and foreign affairs at the height of the empire…[a] sure-footed, tight-wound historical narrative, enlivened with keen insights. [Holland] has a talent for making readers at home in the ancient world, even if they are first time visitors….More so than many who write about Rome, Mr. Holland has a droll wit….The span of conflicts Mr. Holland deals with in ‘Pax’ from Britain to modern Iran, showcases the breadth of his learning.”—Wall Street Journal
“Holland has an eye for an evocative anecdote. The chapter opening with the pen*s of a 90-year-old man being inspected in a court of law is a masterpiece. And his prose is superb. In one poetic passage he describes ‘smoke drifting from the roofs of tenant farms; vineyards and orchards laden down with succulent fruit; herds of cattle lowing softly in the deepening twilight’. Rarely has the distant past seemed so vividly alive”—Financial Times
"A lucid account... Holland’s feel for the lived experience of antiquity is one of the best features of the book."—New York Times Book Review
“Holland’s superb storytelling takes us right into this era as viewed from every standpoint (including our own), offering fresh and vivid insights into well-worn history.”—Guardian
“[Holland's] books are beautifully written and great narrative history.”—TheAtlantic.com
“Tom Holland’s masterful and engaging history of the Pax Romana.”—Aspects of History
“Pax is a captivating narrative history of Rome at the height of its power…historian Tom Holland shows ancient Rome in all its glory.”—The Daily Kos
“A sweeping, colorful history of Rome at its swaggering, superpower zenith by The Rest is History podcaster and bestselling author. Hail Caesar! Hail Tom Holland!”—The Times (UK)
“A masterful blend of subtle politics and carnal colour…Pax provides a deeper and more complex vista on Rome.”—The Telegraph (UK)
"For all the years that have separated the publication of each book in his trilogy, Holland is a surprisingly consistent writer, one whose style you could recognise at a glance. There may be less back-stabbing and court intrigue in this book than in Rubicon and Dynasty; but in allowing us to tread the further reaches of empire through the eyes of the men holding the reins, Pax provides a deeper and more complex vista on Rome"—The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
“Let the sensitive beware: this is a book that judges everything about Rome by the standards of the Romans themselves. The author is a master of immediacy: not for him the fashion of deploring ancient virtues as modern vices.”—The Spectator (UK)
"This is not an underexamined period of history, but Holland handles his material (his sources are primarily Roman: Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio) with rigour and elan. He has a compelling narrative style and an eye for diverting detail. This is a book for lovers of traditional, grand sweep narrative history"—The Sunday Times (UK)
"Holland, who co-hosts the podcast The Rest Is History, is at his best when having fun with Rome’s bloody history. He has a novelist’s vibrant writing style and turns a good phrase. Familiar elements of this period, such as the destruction of Pompeii, still feel fresh in his retelling and he avoids the temptation of so many joyless modern classicists to moralise about what rotters these Romans were with their slavery and their bloodshed and their lack of a proper safeguarding mission statement. He judges them purely by their own values"—The Times (UK)
"[A] vivid account."—Kirkus
“[A] meticulous narrative…Roman history buffs will want to take a look.”—Publishers Weekly
“Tom Holland has written a magnificent, richly detailed and always fluently readable book. He modulates the pace of his narrative excellently and I have read nothing which gives such a detailed and compelling account of the political and administrative life of the provinces and their relations with the imperial government. A better history for the general reader could not have been written."—Literary Review
“The definitive history of Rome’s golden age…PAX is a captivating narrative history of Rome at the height of its power…A stunning portrait of Rome’s glory days.”—Englewood Review of Books
“Magnificent.”—Peter Frankopan, author of The Earth Transformed
“In this marvelous book, Tom Holland shows us the Roman empire at its height, in all its splendor and squalor, sophistication and superstition, majesty and cruelty. Ranging far and looking deep, he tells us about emperors and subjects, about a world that is at the same time both familiar and very alien. Highly recommended.”—Adrian Goldsworthy, author of Philip and Alexander