The cover of The War That Made the Roman Empire

The War That Made the Roman Empire

Barry Strauss ’74

A professor of history and classics on the Hill, Strauss is the author of numerous books on ancient history, including The Death of Caesar and The Trojan War. Here, he takes on what he describes as one of history’s most important but little-known wars: the campaign culminating in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. He chronicles how, in the wake of Julius Caesar’s assassination, the power struggle between Mark Antony and Caesar’s designated heir (Octavian, the future Augustus)—as well as Antony’s romantic and political alliance with Cleopatra, Egypt’s queen—led to armed conflict. The opposing forces met in one of the largest naval battles of the ancient world, involving more than 600 ships and nearly 200,000 men. “Few historians can bring such a battle alive better than Strauss,” says Kirkus, adding that the book “must now be considered the most up-to-date history of its subject.” Publishers Weekly calls the volume “a gripping account of the war for control of the Roman Empire,” noting that Strauss “has an eye for telling details and a knack for explaining the era’s complex political alliances and rivalries in clear terms. Ancient history buffs will be riveted.”

More books by Cornellian authors