Coolidge wrote this book as a companion to Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. She gives here all that Caesar left out -- the background, the character, the description, the action of the war -- in a way that makes sense today. Using a fictitious narrator named Octavius, and drawing on archaeology and classical research, Coolidge has brought much-needed drama to thisCoolidge wrote this book as a companion to Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. She gives here all that Caesar left out -- the background, the character, the description, the action of the war -- in a way that makes sense today. Using a fictitious narrator named Octavius, and drawing on archaeology and classical research, Coolidge has brought much-needed drama to this history and fleshed out the warrior chieftains, common soldiers, politicians, and of course, the supreme commander who made it....
|Title||:||Caesar's Gallic War|
|Number of Pages||:||245 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Caesar's Gallic War Reviews
In high school Latin, we tranlated Caesar's Commentaries, and I truly enjoyed it -- actually enjoyed all four years of Latin. I will admit I probably got more out of Coolidge's version. She combined a bit of fiction with Caesar's words, making this work more of a story than the reports Caesar wrote up. However, I am not overly fond of military exploits, which accounts for my relatively low rating.
This book is a "historical fiction" recounting of Caesar's Gallic Commentaries. Caesar's original works were very sparse, clinical, to the point, without much backstory. Coolidge attempts to put sinew and flesh to Caesar's skeleton. As a result, the book follows faithfully to the events that happened in Gaul but intermixes the action with personal exploits of both fictional and historical figures. On the whole the book is a good read. At times the unfamiliar names are hard to keep track of but there is good list of characters in the beginning of the book as well as a map to help keep track of geographical locations. I have read portions of Caesar's works in the original Latin. It was a neat experience to see Coolidge unpack the portions I had previously read. My biggest criticism of the book is how the author uses dates. She references the years as we now reckon them (i.e. 55 BC) which of course would not been used by any of the Romans at the time. This minor annoyance aside, this is a fairly quick read for someone who wants a little more information about Caesar's conquest of Gaul but isn't quite ready to wade into Caesar's work (in the original Latin or in a translation).
It may have had war and adventure, but it was written in such a way that it was extraordinarily boring. BTW I read this a long time ago, I just forgot to add it to my "read list" same thing on "Ender's Game"
from the fly-leaf: “The years 58 through 50 B.C were violent ones in the history of the Roman Republic. Julius Caesar had become Governor of Gaul, and as he left for his distant province he knew his rivals Pompey and Crassus would be scheming against him in Rome. He therefore determined he must return to Rome triumphant. Caesar's own Commentaries tell the events of this period, but, as Olivia Coolidge says in her introduction, “...it does seem probable that Caesar's book has bored a larger number of children than any other book in the western world. This is hardly Caesar's fault. He did not write it for beginners in Latin...” To bring to Caesar the audience he deserves she has drawn on the resources of archeology and classical research to add flesh and blood to the characters Caesar mentions and has not written a translation but a companion to Caesar's own book. In Caesar's Gallic War one comes to have great respect for Caesar despite the barbaric battles he fought. His instinct for war, his decisiveness, his ability to take immediate action, his incredible bravery, the way in which he instilled in his legions an unquestioning devotion that enabled them to surmount almost impossible obstacles—these are but some of the qualities that have made his name and deeds almost legend. One comes to have a feeling for his faithful yet ruthless lieutenant, Labienus, the brave centurions, the men of the rank and file, the lesser nobles looking for money and glory, the many two-faced tribal chiefs, and such splendid figures as the Gallic commander Vercingetorix. Excitement builds as Caesar battles with the invading Helvetians, with the Germans and with the Belgians. It is at its peek when he meets Pompey and Crassus at the conference of Lucca and first mentions his daring plan for the conquest of Britain. Excitement remains high as he invades Britain, battles in all parts of Gaul, captures Vercingetorix, and finally succeeds in subduing his province. This is an amazing chronicle of a fascinating period of the world's history. Olivia Coolidge has made the chaos of the times and the whole of Caesar's Gallic War—for his stay in Gaul was really one great war—relive for today's readers.”Introduction by Olivia Coolidge:Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War are among the most interesting historical books which the Romans have left us. It is not often that a commander of Caesar's fame has the ability to write well. His firsthand account, written in an extraordinarily simple, clear style, gives us a picture of the Gallic War which may be taken from the Roman point of view, but which is real. Regarding Caesar, we know what he knows—how the Gallic War actually was. Unhappily, though all this is true enough, it does seem probable that Caesar's book has bored a larger number of children than any other book in the Western World. This is hardly Caesar's fault. He did not write it for beginners in Latin, or for people who do not know one Gallic tribe from another and do not care. In fact, he did not write it for children at all. Times have changed. Fashions also change with the times. On reading Caesar today, we are bound to be struck by the fact that he did not approach the problem of writing an account of this war from the angle that we would prefer. In these days of newspapers, for instance, we are used to reporting. We expect stories. We want to know about the common soldier, who he was and what he felt. We like pictures of people, places, weapons, clothes. We demand photographs, if not in literal fact, at least in the form of vivid description. Now the Romans, who had to get their news from common gossip or from letters, wanted facts. Caesar gave them exactly that. Indeed he packed his Commentaries so full of facts that we, who do not know the background, may well find them hard to digest. Caesar treats his characters less as people than as agents, appearing only when they are doing something that needs to be mentioned. Diviciacus, for instance, was a Gaul with who Caesar had a personal friendship. During the first years of the war, Diviciacus is a man without whom Caesar can do nothing. Then suddenly his is not spoken of again. Other people led his tribe, and it is perfectly clear that Diviciacus must be dead. Caesar, however, keeps strictly to his subject and does not say so. In this way people move in and out of Caesar's book with startling abruptness. Caesar's officers come for a year or two and go again. He never comments or describes them in any way. They are there, and then not there. Caesar is also conscious of being the commanding general, and though he narrates many acts of bravery, he feels the need of doing so with restraint. It would be favoritism to mention on man too often. Nor does he think it proper to speak of individuals below the rank of centurion at all. No doubt it would have caused offense in the higher ranks if he did. All these qualities make Caesar's book rather more than less forcible, but they explain why people in our day often do not enjoy it. It is only when we put it together with all we know from other sources about the Gauls, about individual Romans, their political background, their army training, and countless other things that we perceive how greatly Caesar has enriched us. The object of writing a new book on the Gallic War is not therefore to summarize Caesar, but to add to Caesar's story a great deal which he left out. It is hardly possible to do this without writing some fiction. Most of the characters are real ones. Some, however, like little Varus, are invented to show types. Others, like old Caburus, are real enough, but have a fictional background. Conversations and scenes where they take place are imagined ones which may make a personality vivid or give information. The narrator, Octavius, is a shadowy figure who is used for firsthand descriptions. To make him more vivid might mean that his adventures became more important than the real characters. As a young officer with a slightly literary talent, he is typical, too. As an admirer of Caesar, he is able to paint us the same sort of picture Caesar did. No doubt a Gaul would give us another side, but this is Caesar's war.… To sum up, this book is a mixture of fact and fiction, a modern presentation of the war Caesar was writing about, limited by our knowledge, but drawing on the resources of archeology and classical research. It is not a translation, but perhaps a companion to Caesar—a help to those who have to read him and are not able to perceive that he is not dull.”