The Last Assassin (Hardback)Peter Stothard (author)
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Packed with plotting, side-switching and last-ditch escapes, the enthralling story of Cassius Parmensis, the final killer of Julius Caesar to be executed, reads like the most fanciful historical thriller.
'A political thriller, and a human story that astonishes' Hilary Mantel
Many men killed Julius Caesar. Only one man was determined to kill the killers. From the spring of 44 BC through one of the most dramatic and influential periods in history, Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, exacted vengeance on the assassins of the Ides of March, not only on Brutus and Cassius, immortalised by Shakespeare, but all the others too, each with his own individual story.
The last assassin left alive was one of the lesser-known, Cassius Parmensis, a poet and sailor who chose every side in the dying republic's civil wars except the winning one, a playwright whose work was said to have been stolen and published by the man sent to kill him. Parmensis was in the back row of the plotters, many of them Caesar's friends, who killed for reasons of the highest political philosophy and lowest personal pique. For fourteen years he was the most successful at evading his hunters but has been barely a historical foot note - until now.
THE LAST ASSASSIN dazzlingly charts an epic turn of history through the eyes of an unheralded man. It is a history of a hunt that an emperor wanted to hide, of torture and terror, politics and poetry, of ideas and their consequences, a gripping story of fear, revenge and survival.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 480 g
Dimensions: 232 x 158 x 32 mm
Peter Stothard is a master of modern writing about ancient Rome. An implacable dictator cannot rest happy until each of his father's many killers is dead. A gripping history for today of how the assassins of Julius Caesar fell one-by-one, with ever fewer places to hide, before the vengeance of a would-be emperor -- Mary Beard
Half thriller, half elegy for a lost Republic, The Last Assassin traces the after-shocks of Caesar's murder as one by one the conspirators were eliminated to make way for a new Roman order. Stothard's writing is atmospheric and gripping, and his scholarship impeccable -- Greg Woolf, author of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANCIENT CITIES AND ROME: AN EMPIRE'S STORY
The Last Assassin is a compelling true-life thriller, profoundly researched, beautifully written, and a dire lesson in what happens when idealism meets tyranny and political freedom dies -- Christopher Hart * DAILY MAIL 'Book of the Week' *
Stothard's history of the hunting down of the murderers by Antony and Octavian, Caesar's great-nephew and heir, who are first accomplices then bitter rivals as they each seek the throne, is a riveting, fast-paced thriller that makes one think of the brutal settling of scores at the end of The Godfather -- Patrick Kidd * THE TIMES *
[A] gripping, gorgeously written new account of the killing and its consequences ... Stothard explores the familiar ground with fresh, engaging and learned eyes, displaying a novelist's knack for redolent and evocative detail, from cicadas and lizards to the press and horror of battle ... Stothard is excellent on the machinations and murmurings that recruited the killers ... the excitement and danger of the times are skilfully drawn ... Stothard weaves wonders from threads ... This book reminds us powerfully of the supreme importance of individual freedom against an overweening state; of being able to speak truth to those in authority -- Philip Womack * THE SPECTATOR *
In this stimulating book, Peter Stothard focuses on the less-heralded players in the aftermath of Caesar's murder, tracing the period through the varied ends of his killers - in battle, by suicide or at the executioner's hand ... Stothard's compelling book gives shape to the political infighting, combining vivid personal detail ... Stothard writes with a poet's eye for atmosphere and a novelist's imagination in reconstructing events ... he also draws on a deep knowledge of the Roman context, and a sensitivity to the human complexity of events; his account stresses above all the plotters' uncertainty, fear and misery. All in all, this is a striking and evocative treatment of this transformative period -- Edwin Shaw * BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE *
The Last Assassin is the most immediate account of Caesar's murder I have ever read. Even though the outcome of the Ides of March is one everybody knows, Stothard manages to endow it with something of the urgency and tension of a thriller -- Tom Holland * NEW STATESMAN *
Peter Stothard knows how to deploy the telling diamond stud of a detail - whether in Senate debates, sea battles or describing the fusion of poetry and propaganda ... Stothard has woven a taut thriller from scant historical threads. But most of all this is a story of principles and the fight against tyranny, and all the better for focusing on one of history's forgotten players -- Alec Russell * FINANCIAL TIMES *
Stothard's portrait of Parmensis as a tragic poet - a Thyestes was among his works - and keen Epicurean philosopher certainly humanises him. He emerges, indeed, as a most sensitive killer. If his initial motivations remain shadowy, then his gumption and determination to stay alive - or at the very least stare death honourably in the face - reverberate clearly through Stothard's tense and thrilling narrative -- Daisy Dunn * THE CRITIC *
The excellent Last Assassin by Peter Stothard is a group biography of the killers of Julius Caesar, including Cassius Parmensis ... Stothard has a good eye for revealing questions ... The tale also is told with the genuine elegance we have come to expect from this author -- Roy Gibson * TLS *
First murder, then mayhem. Mark Antony, determined to avenge the assassination of his pal Julius Caesar, sent his henchmen far and wide to hunt down his killers. One of those nasty fellows was a bloke called Publius Cornelius Dolabella, renowned as a rapist. His sidekick, known only as the Samarian, was a sadist handy with a heated knife, who also had a stretchy torture machine called the Horse. Peter Stothard, former editor of The Times, presents ancient Rome told in the style of a Coppola Mob movie. Wonderful detail and great fun. -- Gerard de Groot * THE TIMES 'Books of the Year' *
Vivid, dramatic, evocative, and a unique narrative line tracking the assassination and its aftermath -- Adrian Spooner * CLASSICS FOR ALL *
A thrilling account of the vengeful manhunt for Julius Caesar's assassins. Most readers' knowledge of the assassination in 44 B.C.E. ends with the bloody deed, but Stothard brings its aftermath to pulsing life... Stothard writes as if he lives and breathes the air of this tumultuous time. His readers will feel, for a brief time, that they are there as well. A deep immersion in a bloody era of ancient Rome, perfect for readers of Mary Beard and Tom Holland * KIRKUS REVIEWS, USA *
A writer of rare talent... he weaves a tense, fast-paced tale from the many strands of a turbulent era... The vigor of Mr. Stothard's prose, and the acuity of his insight, will propel many readers... into an ancient Roman world that is startlingly real * WALL STREET JOURNAL, USA *
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Excellent read very well written and hugely informative
A must for lovers of Roman history
“Reads like a thriller.”
Really enjoyed this book which reads like a thriller. For some one whose knowledge of Caesar's assassination was based entirely on Shakespeare this was a revelation. Highly recommended.
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