Full Version: New Book: The Spartacus War by Barry Strauss
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
New Book Due Out in May (This will be a busy summer for book reading)

The Spartacus War (Hardcover)
by Barry Strauss (Author)
List Price: $26.00
Price: $17.16 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping
You Save: $8.84 (34%)
Pre-order Price Guarantee. Learn more.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416532056
ISBN-13: 978-1416532057
This title has not yet been released.

Editorial Reviews
Product Description
The Spartacus War is the extraordinary story of the most famous slave rebellion in the ancient world, the fascinating true story behind a legend that has been the inspiration for novelists, filmmakers, and revolutionaries for 2,000 years. Starting with only seventy-four men, a gladiator named Spartacus incited a rebellion that threatened Rome itself. With his fellow gladiators, Spartacus built an army of 60,000 soldiers and controlled the southern Italian countryside. A charismatic leader, he used religion to win support. An ex-soldier in the Roman army, Spartacus excelled in combat. He defeated nine Roman armies and kept Rome at bay for two years before he was defeated. After his final battle, 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along Rome's main southern highway.
The Spartacus War is the dramatic and factual account of one of history's great rebellions. Spartacus was beaten by a Roman general, Crassus, who had learned how to defeat an insurgency. But the rebels were partly to blame for their failure. Their army was large and often undisciplined; the many ethnic groups within it frequently quarreled over leadership. No single leader, not even Spartacus, could keep them all in line. And when faced with a choice between escaping to freedom and looting, the rebels chose wealth over liberty, risking an eventual confrontation with Rome's most powerful forces.

The result of years of research, The Spartacus War is based not only on written documents but also on archaeological evidence, historical reconstruction, and the author's extensive travels in the Italian countryside that Spartacus once conquered.

About the Author
Barry Strauss, professor of history and classics at Cornell University, is a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited eight books, most recently the highly praised The Battle of Salamis. Visit him at . ... gy_b_img_a


How refreshing !

The author doesn't use the politically correct image of Spartacus (i.e. a born-slave)
and points out the rebels had the chance to escape but their greed got the better of
them. The last point makes the rebels far less sympathetic despite their ultimate fate.

Thanks for posting the description, Narukami.


I met Mr. Strauss a few years ago when we were both in New York as consultants for a British television production about Spartacus. He knows his stuff and I look forward to reading his book.
Hi All,

Looks interesting although the editorial review makes it seem as though the accounts given by one source have been favoured over others - only Florus and Appian intimate he had been a soldier. No other source asserts this (except Colleen McCollough in Fortune's Favourites) - and the reason seems to have been that only a Roman could be a tactical genius against Roman tactics which is a ridiculous notion. Same with the 'seventy-four' men - the sources all differ as to how many men he had although 74 does possibly come from the earliest Spartacus source (Sallust's fragmentary Historiae). Also good to see that no ethnicity is bandied about - the Thracian thing is complicated and no ancient source before Plutarch or Appian mentions any for Spartacus (Diodorus calls him a barbarian but the others are silent on where he came from).

It is interesting that even though there were multiple leaders it is Spartacus who is singled out and not men like Crixus and Oenomaus - perhaps they were the tactical geniuses?


Oh come on, we know from Kirk Douglas's portrayal that Spartacus was the main man! :mrgreen:
It will indeed be a busy summer for reading...thanks for the listing.

Has anybody finally read this book? A quick review will be appreciated. Also I would like to know if anyboyd has read "Slave Revolts in Antiquity" by Theresa Urbainczyk.

Thank you very much
Greetings Blossio,

I have started reading this book but am only a few pages in, and so far it has been slow going for me.

Now I did like his earlier book, Salamis, which I thought was very good, and I must admit that right now I am also reading Goldsworthy's latest book, How Rome Fell, and have not really concentrated on Spartacus.

As I say I did enjoy Salamis and so still have high hopes for Spartacus.


I have actually read it.

it reads very easy but I do have two issues with it. There is some speculation in it. "One plausible theory...It appears..let us imagine...many scholars believe..perhaps". He does identify it when he does. He does list his sources at the end of his book and goes by chapter and page the sources he uses, though he never uses formal footnotes or test notes. The other is he calls the rebellious slaves insurgents. There was one or two other things that made me scratch my head, but that was six like June or July 2009. and I can not seem to remember what they were.

its a good read....though though hindsight being 20/20 I might recommend it behind Goldworthy, Sumner, Scarrow, Sidebottom and Roth's latest.
Hi Narukami and Arklore 70

Thank you very much for your comments, I appreciate them, and I think I will give the book a try. I took a look at they bibliography employed by Strauss via Google Books and at least it is a great compendium for anyone interested in the subject.

Best regards
I finished the book last night. I liked it very much, maybe a little less than Strauss' book on the battle of Salamis. But there is one think that really got badly on my nerves to the point that I hope an expensive(!) version come out that has good detailed maps, photos and drawings. The book mentions locations, valleys, mountains, busts, equipment, even Pompeii "cartoons" yet this book has NO photos, no drawings, no map worth mentioning. So the merit of the book is to have gotten me all worked up and really wanting to feel/see the places, the faces.... It was frustrating.