A wonderfully concise distillation of one of the greatest advocates of republicanism.



A novelistic depiction of the famed politician and orator Cicero’s lifetime of devotion to the Roman Republic.

As depicted here, Marcus Tullius Cicero is born in 106 B.C.E. in the rural province of Arpino, and he’s an unhealthy baby, expected to die soon after his birth. He survives, although he’s plagued by sickness throughout his childhood and bullied by his peers. In Cicero’s late teens, Gaius Marius takes over the top position of Roman consul and refuses to relinquish power. Lucius Cornelius Sulla organizes an army to oppose his despotic designs. Cicero joins this army out of loyalty to the republic, ascends the ranks due to his sharp strategic mind, and eventually becomes Sulla’s trusted adviser. However, Sulla has tyrannical ambitions of his own, and when he announces his plan to storm Rome after the death of Marius and his henchman, Cinna, Cicero protests and returns home to Rome. He becomes a lawyer and rises to notoriety after he takes a case defending the unpopular Sextus Roscius, who’s accused of murdering his father; in this telling, Cicero proves that Sextus was framed by Lucius Sergius Catiline. Cicero is expelled from Rome as a result and made quaestor of Sicily; there, he opposes the local governor, who bilks his citizens through illegal taxation. Cicero eventually returns to Rome and becomes a senator, and he successfully opposes the power-hungry Catiline for the seat of consul. However, his career never quite recovers politically—he’s simply made too many enemies. Debut author Martin vividly captures Cicero’s unflagging commitment to the republic of Rome in this fictional dramatization. The prose is straightforward and unembellished but powerful, and the author mostly maintains historical accuracy, with some occasional storytelling license. The author also includes a riveting subplot about Cicero’s friendship with Julius Caesar, whose own fidelity to republicanism wasn’t nearly as uncompromising as Cicero’s. The novel is part of the Barbera Foundation’s Mentor Project series, dedicated to the portraiture of historically significant Italians. Besides its biographical content, its depiction of Cicero also movingly captures his stoical composure in the face of grave danger.

A wonderfully concise distillation of one of the greatest advocates of republicanism.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947431-03-4

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Barbera Foundation, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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