Friday, June 11, 2010

Overlook Preview: Peter Stothard's SPARTACUS ROAD

New in bookstores this month is Spartacus Road: A Journey through Ancient Italy by Peter Stothard. Stothard, editor of The Times Literary Supplement, re-traces the remarkable journey taken by Spartacus and his army of rebels in the final century of the first Roman Republic. The result is a book like none other -- at once a journalist's notebook, a classicist's celebration, a survivor's record of a near fatal cancer and the history of a unique and brutal war. Sothard illuminates conflicting memories of times ancient and modern, and tells one of the greatest stories of all ages. Sweepingly erudite and strikingly personal, Spartacus Road is non-fiction writing of the highest order.

The Spartacus Road is the route along which the rebel slave Spartacus and his army repeatedly outfought the Roman legions between 73 and 71 B.C., bringing both fears and hopes that have never wholly left the modern mind. While most of the historical evidence of the life and career of Spartacus is missing, his struggle has proven inspirational to many modern literary and political writers, making Spartacus a folk hero among cultures both ancient and modern. As he travels along the Spartacus road centuries later, Stothard brings us back to an ancient world which confronted many of the same issues we face today - the perils of religious belief, the comfort of organized religion, the virtues of public life. With great clarity and insight, Stothard breathes new life into the story of Spartacus and the greatest slave war in antiquity. He tells it, definitively, for our time.

Early Praise for Spartacus Road:

“Peter Stothard’s account of his journey in the footsteps of Spartacus’s army is not just a travel book, but also a memoir of surviving cancer. An intriguing book that is impossible to categorize... Stothard's real passion is for the process of thinking about Spartacus, both for the Ancients and for us...compelling.” - Times (UK)

“'Haunting, erudite and beautifully written...a fusion of memoir, history and travelogue that is unlike any other book ever written about Spartacus and all the more precious for being quite so unexpected” – The Spectator

“A wonderfully rich and endlessly thought-provoking brew...reminiscent of the writing of W.G. Sebald...Beautifully written, musing and's an astounding success.” --Literary Review

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