1. "Who Dares Wins" by Dominic Sandbrook13. "A fatal thing happened on the way to the forum" by Emma Southon
2. "Queen of the Sea: a history of Lisbon" by Barry Hatton
3. "Island Stories: Britain and its history in the age of Brexit" by David Reynolds
4. "Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and sometimes Zeppo" by Joe Adamson
5. "Searching for Black Confederates: the Civil War's Most Persistent Myth" by Kevin M Levin
6. "When the Irish invaded Canada" by Christopher Klein
7. "Underground USA" by Geoff Marshall
8."Gotta get Theroux this: my life and strange times in television" by Louis Theroux
9. "Black and British: a forgotten history" by David Olusoga
10. "One..Two..Three..Four - The Beatles in Time" by Craig Brown
11. "How to be a liberal" by Ian Dunt
12. "Entangled Life: how fungi make our worlds, change our minds, and shape our futures" by Merlin Sheldrake
A look at how pervasive homicide was in Ancient Rome, and what it tells us about Roman attitudes to social hierarchy and status. Death, it seems, was part of Roman life since the moment Romulus and Remeus fell out over artistic differences. Southon explores crime and punishment, women, the games, political backstabbing, magic, and slavery showing how the Romans did not value life so much as they valued the dignity of the family.
As with her book on Agrippina
(see MaliA, above), Southon writes in a leisurely, chatty style akin to a mildly-drunken pub conversation or a modern podcast. It's engaging, but prone to some sudden gear changes such as referring to "spurty fun" shortly after a rather serious and detailed look at what happened during the agonising and ritual end of a gladiatorial combat after the thumb has been raised/lowered and the victor pierces the loser's cartoid artery. Similarly, I think she needs some tighter editing because, as with all us, when she gets a good line in she can't help but repeat it sometime after.
I think her chapter on slavery opens with the best description of the Roman world I've ever come across, surpassing even the immortal Beard:
To start thinking about Roman slavery is to stare into an infinite abyss of deliberate human suffering.
Her most important observation running throughout the book is that much of what we know about Rome comes from the writings of the elites, who naturally disdained and didn't really consider the masses, let alone the slaves, as human beings. Perhaps by talking excitedly about the fun of someone having their face eating by a leopard then reminding us that this anonymous piece of entertainment was someone who lived, laughed, and loved along with the rest of us, she is making the reader feel just as complicit in the wretchedness of it all as the elites were. As the success of true crime podcasts shows, in 2000 years we haven't changed at all.