Goldsworthy, Adrian

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Goldsworthy, Adrian

(Adrian Keith Goldsworthy)

PERSONAL: Born 1969. Education: St. John’s College, Oxford, Ph.D., 1994.

CAREER: Historian.


The Roman Army at War: 100 B.C.-A.D. 200, Clarendon Press (New York, NY), 1996.

(Editor, with Ian Haynes) The Roman Army as a Community: Including Papers of a Conference Held at Birkbeck College, University of London, on 11-12 January 1997, Journal of Roman Archaeology (Portsmouth, RI), 1999.

Roman Warfare, Cassell (London, England), 2000.

The Punic Wars, Cassell (London, England), 2000.

Cannae, Cassell Military (London, England), 2001.

In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2003.

The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars, 265-146 B.C., Cassell (London, England), 2003.

The Complete Roman Army, Thames & Hudson (New York, NY), 2003.

Caesar’s Civil War, 49-44 B.C., Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.

Caesar: Life of a Colossus, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2006.

General editor, Roman Warfare, Collins/Smithsonian (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Adrian Goldsworthy is a recognized authority on Roman military history. He has written exclusively on his favorite subject, ranging from the days of the military in the early Roman Republic to the final years as the empire began to crumble. Tom Holland, writing in the Spectator, called Goldsworthy “indisputably our leading authority on the Roman way of war.” The critic did note, though, that the historian is fairly conservative in his writing and does not often speculate or theorize about the Roman military.

Though he has only been publishing histories at a regular pace since about 2000, Goldsworthy has been very active since the release of such titles as Roman Warfare and The Punic Wars. The historian is often praised for his accurate research, offering both academic and general readers a plethora of facts in a readable manner. Of course, much of this history has been covered by other scholars before, but in a review of The Punic Wars by Jay Freeman in Booklist, for example, the critic held that the stories have been told “rarely as well.”

In some cases, such as In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire and The Complete Roman Army, Goldsworthy offers expansive histories covering many centuries of change in the Roman military. In the former title, for instance, Goldsworthy discusses fifteen of the most important military commanders in the empire, comparing their accomplishments and effects on history, and sometimes noting how the Roman legions differed or were similar to modern military machines. Reviewing this book in the Spectator, Allan Massie asserted that “Goldsworthy’s study of these commanders is thoroughly researched, and authoritative. He is lucid in exposition and narrative. The result is a book which academics will value and which nevertheless must appeal to anyone interested in the art of war and the making and defence of the Roman Empire.” In what Historian contributor John Dayton called “an outstanding general study of the Roman military system,” The Complete Roman Army shows how the Roman army evolved from troops formed of civilian farmers to a highly trained force of professional soldiers, then declined as internal strife tore the army and Rome apart. While Dayton noted some small errors in the book, such as an occasional misspelling of a Latin word and the lack of reference citations, the reviewer considered it a “most beneficial” resource for those interested in the subject. “For anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of the soldier’s life in the Roman army, this is an invaluable reference book,” Susanna Shadrake similarly stated in History Today.

After writing a book about the Roman Civil War, featuring Caesar as the central figure, Goldsworthy focused on this most famous of Roman leaders in his 2006 title, Caesar: Life of a Colossus. It is a largely sympathetic portrait of the man who led Rome to domination of a continent and became its first emperor, only to be assassinated by those who yearned for the return of the Republic. Goldsworthy’s biography discusses Caesar’s military and political ambitions, as well as his personal life. According to one Publishers Weekly reviewer, “Goldsworthy’s exhaustive, lucid, elegantly written life makes its subject the embodiment of his age.” “The analysis of Caesar’s generalship is predictably excellent, and the account of the Gallic wars, in particular, has rarely been bettered,” reported Holland in the Spectator, who praised the historian for extracting quality facts from a wide array of resources. The critic, though, regretted that Goldsworthy does not seem to capture “the sheer excitement of political life in the late Republic,” and added that the detailed military aspects offered make for some “foot-slogging” reading. He also commented that “the result is an impressively detailed book, but one that rarely, outside the account of the Gallic campaigns, comes alive.” Sean Fleming, writing in Library Journal, admitted that Goldsworthy offers no new information here, but asserted that Caesar is “an engaging and well-drawn resource.”



Atlantic Monthly, October, 2006, review of Caesar: Life of a Colossus, p. 126.

Booklist, April 1, 2001, Jay Freeman, review of The Punic Wars, p. 1445; September 15, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Caesar, p. 18.

Contemporary Review, February, 2004, review of The Complete Roman Army, p. 128.

Historian, spring, 2005, John Dayton, review of The Complete Roman Army, p. 155.

History Today, November, 2003, Susanna Shadrake, review of The Complete Roman Army, p. 67.

Library Journal, September 15, 2006, Sean Fleming, review of Caesar, p. 67.

Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2006, review of Caesar, p. 45.

Spectator, November 22, 2003, Allan Massie, “Arms and the Men,” review of In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire, p. 60; April 29, 2006, Tom Holland, “Never Simply a Soldier,” review of Caesar.*