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Publisher's Summary

Explore all of the murder, madness and mayhem in Ancient Rome during the reign of the mad emperor, Caligula.

In this book about Rome’s most infamous emperor, expert author, Stephen Dando-Collins chronicles all the palace intrigues and murders that led to Caligula becoming emperor, and details the horrors of his manic reign and the murderous consequences brought about at the hand of his sister Agrippina the Younger, his uncle Claudius and his nephew Nero. 

Skillfully researched, Dando-Collins puts the jigsaw pieces together to form an accurate picture of Caligula’s life and influences. Dando-Collins’ precise and thorough examination of the emperor’s life puts Caligula’s paranoid reign into perspective, examining the betrayals and deaths he experienced prior to his time in power and the onset of a near-fatal illness believed to have affected his mental-health.

©2019 Stephen Dando-Collins (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Caligula

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A Fantastic Biography of a Notorious Emperor

This a fascinating biography of one of Rome’s most notorious Emperors. Well researched but also not too dry as many biographies/history books tend to be. It tells the story of the Emperor Gaius (Caligula) from birth to the aftermath after his death. It provides an interesting picture of Caligula while also disproving many myths surrounding him.

What other reviewers have pointed out is that this book also compared Caligula and Donald Trump, this is not the first time this has been done nor will it be the last. I personally think the comparison is an insult...to Caligula. Donald Trump is an idiot and megalomaniac but at least Caligula had the excuse of mental illness.

If this comparison bothers you then simply skip the last chapter. It is only discussed there. Otherwise I would encourage anyone who is interested in the Emperor or his family members to check out this book, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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  • Kaiser
  • 22-08-2020

A solid overview, sadly stained by modernity.

Let's start off with the good.

This biography of Caligula is fairly well written, a very nice overview of his life and the principal figures around him. Starting with his birth and ending a little past his assassination with a brief overview of his successor Claudius's reign. the author does a very good job of not only exploring potential avenues of justifications for some of Caligula's actions while not shying away from some of the more atrocious things he had done during his reign. The author also tactfully explores some of the potential thought processes around the sycophants and court officials that surrounded him and learned how to survive while always making it clear that these are just possibilities and not known fact. I also enjoyed the author's attempted medical diagnosis of Caligula potential madness, thought that was a fun little chapter.

The narrator does a fantastic job of reading this book. While some minor mispronunciation of names and places does occur it's very minor and does not take you out of the story at all. As someone whose library is filled with volumes on Ancient Rome and many other cultures with vastly different languages and vernaculars, this narrator has done better than most.

The Cons

The only con I can give the main substance of the volume ( though I'm not even sure it should be counted against the book as this may have been the author's intent) but it's definitely not what I would call a full biography. One of the great things about the late Republic early Imperial period of Rome is that we have so many volumes and surviving accounts of the events that took place. And while this book does a good job of covering those events it doesn't go into as great of detail as some other volumes have. I would rate this book for somebody who knows a bit about early Imperial Rome and wants to start dipping their toes into the deeper history of the era or just someone who is interested in Caligula personally without being bugged down by all the gritty minutia of the time.

The Ending Chapter

Here is where the bulk of the bad reviews for this book come from and honestly I can see why. As a bit of disclaimer as it never hurts to state your intentions in these modern times. I have no stake in the modern politics of America at all. I personally find modern politics to be a sad insult to the collective intelligence of not only America but the world in general. Now with that being said, the last chapter of this book truly drags it down in every possible way. This book's last chapter attempts to compare the Emperor Caligula who has been dead nearly two thousand years and compare him with the current American President Donald Trump. Not only are these comparisons superficial at best, quite a few of them stretch into what I would personally consider absurdity. ( there was a small section dedicated over to how Trump shakes other world leaders hands compared to Caligula) While comparing leaders both past and present can be interesting, thought-provoking and even quite insightful this at least to me seems more like grandstanding or the author attempting to force a personal view on to the the reader. The last chapter of this book is truly a jarring shift from what was otherwise a solid overview of Caligula.

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  • Texzen
  • 22-12-2019

Unfortunate Finish

Enjoyable history. Discounting to have it ruined with an idiot’s politics chapter on comparing Trump to Caligula. Seriously? Grow up.

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  • Ladyglock
  • 18-08-2019

Really, really bad

The narrative is fine but the book is awful. If I could give this book zero stars it would be a generous rating. Horrible

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  • John McLean
  • 27-11-2019

No Place For Trump Bashing And Personal Politics In An Ancient History Book

Book was great minus the addition of personal politics into the mix, made it seem immature and amateurish, time and place and sadly this wasn’t the time or place, I thought I hit a button and another book was playing, do better, thank you

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  • John
  • 02-08-2019

🇺🇸🇺🇸 MiSLEADING ‼️ 🇺🇸🇺🇸

I like the narrator James Anderson Foster on all his readings however this is clearly written with spite and misleading quotes that serve the democratic mind of utopia rather than our Presidents heroic actions to stand up to dictators whom seek to exploit our constitution and the greatest President this world as seen ... history as will prove the knives were out early even by his own party , as for this book , history will forget it and see it for what it is , propaganda all is phony ( Bob Dylan ) and ( We'll See ) to quote President Donald J Trump ... ( a waste of a credit )



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  • Olivier Fuchs
  • 06-08-2019

Another immersive book by Stephen Dando-Collins

I've always greatly enjoyed the books by Stephen Dando-Collins for their sheer immersiveness and have listened to nearly all of them here at Audible. My favorites are probably "Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome" and "Rise of an Empire:How One Man United Greece to Defeat Xerxes's Persians.

Although not as much of an emotional journey or action-packed as the above two titles, you are soon immersed in the era and intrigued by the figure of Caligula. The book starts with an interesting introduction where the author dispels some common myths, considers a few hypotheses and mentions his sources used. After that sources are also referred to occasionally but not without breaking the pace of the book. After that it's a smooth ride from start to finish. As can be expected, there are quite a few names and family relations that are not always as easy to keep track of but with a bit foreknowledge it should not be overwhelming.

There was the occasional (although brief) annoyance when the narrator completely mispronounced French and Latin (place)names. For example the famous general "Lucullus" was pronouned as "Lusullus". The French town of "Beane" as "Bee-own" and "Nîmes" as "Knees-mes". Also in expressons like "Pièce de résistance" the word "pièce" is pronounced as "peace". The name "Vercingetorix" ended up as "Ver-Sin-Gay-TOH-ricks". In short: how an American tourist would pronounce it - but from a professional narrator you expect more. After all, with some minor research this could easily have been avoided.

All in all, definitely listen to this book if you want to have a brief foray into the life of Caligula!

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