Other Interests

Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician

by Anthony Everitt

In this dynamic and engaging biography, Anthony Everitt plunges us into the fascinating, scandal-ridden world of ancient Rome in its most glorious heyday. Accessible to us through his legendary speeches but also through an unrivaled collection of unguarded letters to his close friend Atticus, Cicero comes to life as a witty and cunning political operator. He squared off against Caesar and was friends with young Brutus. He advised the legendary Pompey on his somewhat botched transition from military hero to politician. He lambasted Mark Antony and was master of the smear campaign, as feared for his wit as he was for exposing his opponents’ sexual peccadilloes. Brilliant, voluble, cranky, a genius of political manipulation but also a true patriot and idealist, Cicero was Rome’s most feared politician, one of the greatest lawyers and statesmen of all times. Machiavelli, Queen Elizabeth, John Adams and Winston Churchill all studied his example. No man has loomed larger in the political history of mankind.

Lavinia

by Ursula K. Le Guin

‘Like Spartan Helen, I caused a war. She caused hers by letting men who wanted her take her. I caused mine because I wouldn’t be given, wouldn’t be taken, but chose my man and my fate. The man was famous, the fate obscure; not a bad balance.’ Lavinia is the daughter of the King of Latium, a victorious warrior who loves peace; she is her father’s closest companion. Now of an age to wed, Lavinia’s mother favors her own kinsman, King Turnus of Rutulia, handsome, heroic, everything a young girl should want. Instead, Lavinia dreams of mighty Aeneas, a man she has heard of only from a ghost of a poet, who comes to her in the gods’ holy place and tells her of her future, and Aeneas’ past… If she refuses to wed Turnus, Lavinia knows she will start a war – but her fate was set the moment the poet appeared to her in a dream and told her of the adventurer who fled fallen Troy, holding his son’s hand and carrying his father on his back.

Augustus: A Novel

by John Williams

After the brutal murder of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, Octavian, a shy and scholarly youth of 19, suddenly finds himself heir to the vast power of Rome. He is destined, despite vicious power struggles, bloody wars and family strife, to transform his realm and become the greatest ruler the western world had ever seen: Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor. Building on impeccable research, John Williams brings the legendary figure of Augustus vividly to life, and invests his characters with such profound humanity that we enter completely into the heat and danger of their lives and times.

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic

by Tom Holland

In 49 B.C., the 705th year since the founding of Rome, Julius Caesar crossed a small border river called the Rubicon and plunged Rome into cataclysmic civil war. Tom Holland’s enthralling account tells the story of Caesar’s generation, witness to the twilight of the Republic and its bloody transformation into an empire. From Cicero, Spartacus, and Brutus, to Cleopatra, Virgil, and Augustus, here are some of the most legendary figures in history brought thrillingly to life. Combining verve and freshness with scrupulous scholarship, Rubicon is not only an engrossing history of this pivotal era but a uniquely resonant portrait of a great civilization in all its extremes of self-sacrifice and rivalry, decadence and catastrophe, intrigue, war, and world-shaking ambition.

The Severans: The Changed Roman Empire

by Michael Grant

The Severans analyses the colorful decline of the Roman Empire during the reign of the Severans, the first non-Italian dynasty. In his learned and exciting style, Michael Grant describes the foreign wars waged against the Alemanni and the Persians, and the remarkable personalities of the imperial family. Thus the reader encounters Julia Domna’s alleged literary circle, or Elagabalus’ curious private life – which included dancing in the streets, marrying a vestal virgin and smothering his enemies with rose petals. With its beautifully selected plate section, maps and extensive bibliography, this book will appeal to the student of ancient history as well as to the general reader.

1800 Kilometers in a FIAT 500: Our Italian Genealogical Odyssey

by Peter Barbella & Gayann Tricarico Barbella

Two crazy senior citizens decide to visit the birthplaces of their Italian ancestors. They plan a trip to Sperone, Sassano, Palo del Colle and Vasto, places that are far off the beaten track. They execute the plan (almost) flawlessly. On the way, they see magnificent sights, meet wonderful people and find a goldmine of genealogical information. This is the story of their 13-day genealogical odyssey.

Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes

by George L. Williams

The papacy has often resembled a secular European monarchy more than a divinely inspired institution. Roman pontiffs bestowed great wealth on their families and forged strategic alliances with other powerful families to increase their power. Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), for example, forced his daughter Lucrezia into a series of marriages for political reasons. When her marital alliance was no longer advantageous, as was the case in her second marriage, her husband was brutally murdered. Many papal families also intermarried in hopes of forming a hereditary papacy; at least two members of the Fieschi, Piccolomini, Della Rovere, and Medici families served as pope. Papal families since the early history of the church are fully covered in this comprehensive work. Genealogical charts graphically show the descendants of the popes, presenting in many cases the interrelationships between the papal families and their relationships with many of the leading families of Europe. Detailed histories examine the impact of the papacy on each pope’s family and how each influenced the history of the church.

Speak Italian: The Fine Art of the Gesture

by Bruno Munari

Attenzione! They say that a gesture is worth 1000 words, and when it comes to speaking with your hands, the Italians speak volumes. This quirky bilingual handbook of Italian gestures, first published in 1958 by renowned Milanese artist and graphic designer Bruno Munari, will help the phalange-phobic decipher the unspoken language of gestures, a language not found in any dictionary. Charming black-and-white photos and wry captions evoke an Italy of days gone by. Speak Italian gives a little hand to anyone who has ever been at a loss for words.

Finding Your Italian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide

by Suzanne Russo Adams

For millions of Americans, home means Italy, where their roots started years ago. In Finding Your Italian Ancestors, you’ll discover the tools you need to trace your ancestors back to the homeland. Learn how and where to find records in the United States and Italy, get practical advice on deciphering those hard-to-read documents, and explore valuable online resources. The guide also includes maps, multiple glossaries, and an extensive bibliography.

When Rome Falls: A Novel of World War II

by A.R. Homer

John “Jay Mack” MacPherson, an American major, leads the hidden POW organization with his contact, the gentle Father Francesco, a priest in a church on Vatican soil. Jay shares a billet with former POWs Buck Nolan, a plain-spoken GI, and David Lawrence, a British RAF Flight Lieutenant, in the home of Maria, a lovely Roman with whom Jay falls in love. When Maria is arrested for harboring POWs, an offense punishable by death, Jay’s grief knows no bounds. The three move their billet to the art-filled villa of Adriana, a rich socialite with a lover in the German officer corps and a son and daughter in the Resistance. Vittoria, her daughter, is an expert bomb-maker who inadvertently dooms a fellow partisan, Renzo, a survivor of the roundup of the Roman Jews, to a fateful mistake the night before a bold attack on an SS police column. The raid goes awry and Rome’s Gestapo chief, Herbert Kappler, is called upon to carry out a gruesome reprisal on hundreds of innocent Romans. Nazis and fascists, partisans and POWs in hiding – all await the liberation of the city, some with fear, others with hope. And among them lurks a spy, poised to betray the entire POW network when the American army enters Rome. When Rome Falls blends historical facts with fictional characters to deliver a fast-paced tale of breathtaking intrigue and razor-sharp plot twists.