A new translation that captures the gripping power of one of the greatest war stories ever told--Julius Caesar's pitiless account of his brutal campaign to conquer Gaul
Imagine a book about a unnecessary war written by the ruthless general of an occupying army--a vivid and dramatic propaganda piece that forces the reader to identify with the conquerors and that is designed, like the war itself, to fuel the limitless political ambitions of the author. Could such a campaign autobiography ever be a great work of literature--perhaps even one of the greatest? It would be easy to think not, but such a book exists--and it helped transform Julius Caesar from a politician on the make into the Caesar of legend. This remarkable new translation of Caesar's famous but underappreciated War for Gaul captures, like never before in English, the gripping and powerfully concise style of the future emperor's dispatches from the front lines in what are today France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland.
While letting Caesar tell his battle stories in his own way, distinguished classicist James O'Donnell also fills in the rest of the story in a substantial introduction and notes that together explain why Gaul is the "best bad man's book ever written"--a great book in which a genuinely bad person offers a bald-faced, amoral description of just how bad he has been.
Complete with a chronology, a map of Gaul, suggestions for further reading, and an index, this feature-rich edition captures the forceful austerity of a troubling yet magnificent classic--a book that, as O'Donnell says, "gets war exactly right and morals exactly wrong."
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Number of pages: 336
"To publicize his campaigns in Gaul, Julius Caesar invented a new genre--and a direct, swift, but careful narrative style, like a tight skin around the events he recounts. James O'Donnell admirably renders this style in English, ventriloquizing Caesar's mysterious genius."--Sarah Ruden, translator of Augustine's Confessions
"James O'Donnell's version of The War for Gaul is as gripping and readable as Caesar himself. Brisk, terse, and potent, the translation captures the meaning of the original. It is a marvelous achievement. I sat, I read, I loved."--Barry Strauss, author of The Death of Caesar
"The War for Gaul is Caesar's report of his conquest of Gaul, an amoral war and a vastly destructive prelude to political revolution at Rome. O'Donnell does full justice to Caesar's Latin, giving us an account as terse and understated as the original. The introductions preceding each Commentary give the modern reader a sense of the context that the ancient reader brought to the story and show us Caesar in the process of becoming Caesar."--Cynthia Damon, editor and translator of Caesar's Civil War (Loeb Classical Library)
"Most translations of Caesar give the impression that his style is weighty, ponderous, and, frankly, boring, but nothing could be further from the truth. James O'Donnell's version of The War for Gaul is much more successful than others in rendering Caesar's taut, forceful prose in English. In replicating the economy and sweep of Caesar's narrative, O'Donnell's version wins hands down."--James M. May, St. Olaf College
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