A big, intelligent, generalized popular history of the rise and fall of Rome, written in a colorful, colloquial style. It is similar to- but not as scholarly as- Will Durant's Caesar and Christ, which is also a one-volume modern version of complex history, but jam-packed with information, footnotes, dates, and written with taut wit...This book paints a broader picture, while using many of the same specific facts; it is in some ways easier to read -- but less easy to remember, and unlikely to serve as the reference book Durant's text is. Comparisons aside, in its own right the Montanelli book is an entertaining and compact general view of Rome's varied history, with a good deal of well-written specific detail about the various important Emperors, the customs, dress, banquets, politicians, murders, and so forth. Well worth reading as an informative and comprehensive long essay that catches the spirit and variations of a complex Empire, with many fascinating sidelights. It expands on some aspects Durant omits; and while lacking comparable scholarship, it is an imaginative, yet specific and completely rounded summation, satisfying for the more casual and interested reader of history.