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  • Published: 1 April 2003
  • ISBN: 9780099445081
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $22.99


A Novel

'Williams has fashioned an always engaging, psychologically convincing work of fiction-a consistent and well-realized portrait' The New Yorker

AUGUSTUS tells the story of Octavian, a shy and scholarly youth of nineteen who, on the death of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, suddenly finds himself heir to the vast power of the Roman Empire. He is destined to rule that world astonishingly well, given the odds and intrigues against him. He would later be known as Augustus Caesar (63 B.C. -14A.D.), the first Roman emperor.

Through the use of fictional letters, memoranda and dispatches, we see how Augustus established his essential base of power and how he was continually obliged to put down, by a subtle combination of force and guile, the challenges of such men as Cicero, Brutus, Cassius and, finally, Mark Antony.

The narrative mosaic John Williams has built on impeccable historical research brings Augustus vividly to life. Williams invests his characters with such profound humanity and treats them with such terrible honesty and compassion that we enter into their very lives and times.

  • Published: 1 April 2003
  • ISBN: 9780099445081
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

John Williams

John Williams was an author, editor and professor. Born in 1922 in Texas, he served in the United States Army Air Force from 1942 to 1945 in China, Burma and India. His first novel, Nothing But the Night, was published in 1948. After receiving his PhD in 1954, Williams returned to the University of Denver where he first studied to teach literature and creative writing for thirty years. It was during this time that he wrote the novels Butcher's Crossing (1960) and Stoner (1965). His last novel, Augustus, won the National Book Award in 1973. John Williams died in Arkansas in 1994.

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Praise for Augustus

Weir's sympathetic and detailed biography reassesses the life of a woman whose role in public life.has been underrated by historians

New Statesman

The finest historical novel ever written by an American

Washington Post

It would be easy to over-praise this novel; but there does not seem any adequate reason why this temptation should be resisted


A novel of extraordinary range, yet of extraordinary minuteness, that manages never to sacrifice one quality for the other

Financial Times

Williams has fashioned an always engaging, psychologically convincing work of fiction - a consistent and well-realized portrait

New Yorker

A highly imaginative account of the life and times of Augustus-a brilliant novel

Library Journal

A brilliant epistolary novel about Octavius Caesar and ancient Rome...all three [of John Williams'] novels show a similar narrative arc: a young man's initiation, vicious male rivalries, subtler tensions between men and women, fathers and daughters, and finally a bleak sense of disappointment, even futility.

New York Times

Exquisite...brims with great lines

Chicago Tribune

A vividly imagined re-creation of classical Rome, but its intuitive grasp of the experience of immense power makes it an unusual, and superior, novel

Boston Globe

There could be no better year than 2014 to rediscover this one

Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement

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