GLADIATOR by Richard Watkins


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Age Range: 10 - 15
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 The heroic and bloody story of the Roman gladiators is retold in Watkins's debut work, a comprehensive and vividly illustrated guide that will impart his obvious passion for the subject to budding historians. Despite their sophistication in government and the arts, Romans had a cruel and crude taste for violence, and Watkins traces the growth of the games from the first combat in 264 b.c., at the funeral of Junius Brutus, to the elaborate spectacles that regularly entranced thousands at the Colosseum. A job that was first thought fit only for prisoners of war, slaves, and criminals, it became an honored profession that, at the height of the empire, was more than half-full of distinguished male volunteers (women gladiators were officially banned in a.d. 200). Watkins meticulously reviews the training of gladiators and also takes readers through an upbeat gallery of the various types of gladiators who played the games. The black-and-white drawings capture the elegance of the Roman Colosseum, and the excitement of the sea battles that were held at terrific expense; the renderings of the gladiators are consistently dramatic. (map, bibliography, further reading, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-82656-X
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997


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