Dangerous Days in the Roman Empire is the second of my Terry Deary haul and proved to be far more information packed than the one I read on Ancient Egypt, covering three centuries of Roman history from the rule of Augustus to Rome’s fall.
While lip service is given to some aspects of plebeian life, such as a look at some of the jobs that a Roman citizen might have, it’s very much a look at its rulers instead in a whistlestop tour through the good, the bad and the mad emperors (and noting that each emperor had something in each of those columns). The pace can at times feel a little too fast – leading to a slight case of feeling list-like – but thanks to Derry’s approach of only really talking about the juiciest gossip and goriest of gore, in a very colloquial style (get used to hearing about the Romans ‘battering’ various armies and tribes), it’s a very entertaining book nonetheless.
I’ve seen a few reviews taking exception to Deary letting his own opinions show, but as those opinions are mostly noting how hypocritical the Romans were in considering everyone else barbarians whilst they were throwing Christians to lions and beheading criminals for larks over dinner (and not forgetting to mention that the Christians weren’t any less bloodthirsty once their power was in the ascendancy), I can’t really see why people are taking issue over it.
If you’re looking for an in-depth examination of Rome and its rulers, you’d definitely be better off looking elsewhere. But if you’re looking for an entertaining read to snort over while soaking up sunshine, you could do a lot worse than this.