By the author of Stoner, the surprise international bestsellerAfter the brutal murder of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, Octavian, a shy and scholarly youth of nineteen, suddenly finds himself heir to the vast power of Rome.
Augustus tells the story of Octavian, a shy and scholarly youth of nineteen who, on the death of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, suddenly finds himself heir to the vast power of the Roman Empire. He is destined to rule that world astonishingly well, given the odds and intrigues against him. He would later be known as Augustus Caesar (63 B.C. - 14A.D.), the first Roman emperor. Through the use of fictional letters, memoranda and dispatches, we see how Augustus established his essential base of power and how he was continually obliged to put down, by a subtle combination of force and guile, the challenges of such men as Cicero, Brutus, Cassius and, finally, Mark Antony. The narrative mosaic John Williams has built on impeccable historical research brings Augustus vividly to life. Williams invests his characters with such profound humanity and treats them with such terrible honesty and compassion that we enter into their very lives and times.
In addition to the National Book Award, John Williams has been recognized with numerous awards for his prolific literary work. Before retiring to Arkansas with his wife, Nancy, he taught at the University of Denver and directed the writing programme there. He died in 1994 at the age of seventy-one, survived by his wife, three children and four stepchildren.
"Weir's sympathetic and detailed biography reassesses the life of a woman whose role in public life...has been underrated by historians" New Statesman "The finest historical novel ever written by an American" Washington Post "It would be easy to over-praise this novel; but there does not seem any adequate reason why this temptation should be resisted" Economist "A novel of extraordinary range, yet of extraordinary minuteness, that manages never to sacrifice one quality for the other" Financial Times "Williams has fashioned an always engaging, psychologically convincing work of fiction - a consistent and well-realized portrait" New Yorker
'Williams has fashioned an always engaging, psychologically convincing work of fiction-a consistent and well-realized portrait' The New Yorker 20021018
30 years after its first British publication in 1973, it's a pleasure to welcome back this masterful work. Lovers of high-quality literature should be delighted to see the reissue of this, Williams's third and last novel, which was also his most successful and highly acclaimed, winning the National Book Award in 1973. It has reappeared several times in the intervening years, and this edition features an eloquent introduction from John McGahern, who seems only too glad to take the chance to praise the work of 'a remarkable writer working at the very height of his powers'. The premise is simple enough. Williams takes the life of Octavius - a young man who is destined to become the first Roman emperor when his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, dies - and embellishes his tale with a combination of fictional letters, dispatches and memoirs. Thanks to a Rockefeller grant received during his time at Oxford, Williams was given the opportunity to travel to Italy to put in some first-hand research, and the story clearly benefits from this. The Roman Empire's days of glory fairly leap from the pages. Whether in the visceral brutality of the land and naval battles or the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by those who ruled its vast expanse, it's all very much the stuff of epics. And the characters are equally realistic, the mishaps and good fortune of their lives drawing the reader into their innermost thoughts. The skill with which Williams portrays the subterfuge and ruthless machinations of those hungry for power really does make you feel as if you're there. A classic novel. (Kirkus UK)
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