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5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00 (2 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert Harris Narrator: David Rintoul Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Cicero Series Release Date:
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From the bestselling author of Pompeii comes the third installment in the most provocative and brilliant saga of Rome and its power struggles since I, Claudius.

With Dictator, Robert Harris brings the saga of Cicero’s life to a time when some of the most epic events in human history occurred: the collapse of the Roman republic, the subsequent civil war, the murder of Pompey, and the assassination of Julius Caesar. Yet the question it asks is a timeless one: How is political freedom to be safeguarded against the triple threat of unscrupulous personal ambition, of an electoral system dominated by vested financial interests, and of the corrupting impact of waging ceaseless foreign wars? And in the very human figure of Cicero—brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful, and yet ultimately brave—Harris gives us a hero for both his own time, and for ours.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Thrilling . . . [Cicero’s] story will powerfully stir the heart and mind, for it presents the coda to a life lived with intelligence and courage. . . . Harris never loses sight of his themes, or his protagonist’s relevance for today. Sarah Johnson, Booklist
  • Charming as well as engrossing . . . wise but not pedantic, moral but not sanctimonious, courageous but wary of the grandstanding of the martyr. In Harris’s hands, the principle actors emerge fully rounded. . . . Harris has written smart, gripping thrillers . . . but his Cicero novels are more akin to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall in their subjects—men of towering intellect and humanity—and in their visceral evocation of history. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • As skillful as it is sobering . . . With its complex historical context and searing scenes of violence, Dictator is not easy reading. Yet its gripping dramas and powerful themes—the fragility of democracy and the fallibility of human beings among them—richly illuminate the conflicts of its era in our own. Publishers Weekly
  • To render convincingly a period as remote as that of Cicero’s is a stiff challenge for a novelist to meet, but it is the measure of Harris’s achievement that we experience a 2,000-year-old crisis as though we were reading about it in a contemporary memoir. . . . Yet the real triumph of Dictator is how successfully it channels what is perhaps the supreme fascination of ancient Rome: the degree to which it is at once eerily like our own world and yet profoundly alien. The challenges faced by Cicero will be recognizable to many a contemporary senator: welfare dependency; the legacy of illegal wars; anxiety that a venerable constitution is no longer fit for its purpose. . . . If it is indeed a mirror that Dictator holds up to the present, then the reflections it offers are unsettling and admonitory. This is historical fiction that is the very opposite of escapist. Tom Holland, The New York Times Book Review
  • Harris gives ancient history the feel of an ongoing thriller, a true-life Game of Thrones. But for all the pyrotechnics, his depth and fidelity put him in league with Marguerite Yourcenar. Boris Kachka, Vulture
  • Cicero’s was a life rich in gravitas and drama, and Harris depicts it with erudition and élan. . . . Harris seems to have mastered every telling aspect of the world and the conflicts he dramatizes. . . . The new novel’s predecessors—Imperium and Conspirata—made ancient history exciting. Dictator goes even further, imparting wisdom and consolation. Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post
  • Masterly . . . Harris’s version of the events preceding Caesar’s assassination is persuasively realized, and he renders the terrifying uncertainty of its aftermath with such skill that the ensuing betrayal and destruction of the Roman Republic can almost draw a tear. . . . the emotional heft is deeply satisfying. Toby Clements, The Telegraph (London)
  • [Harris] has a pitch-perfect ear for class snobbery, hypocrisy, parliamentary posturing and bluster. His best episodes bring crucial behind-the-scenes moments in Roman political skullduggery to colourful life. He writes with swaggering confidence. . . . Harris does not disappoint. His Caesar is a menacing, genocidal psychopath, but so charismatic that everyone in Rome, including Brutus and the other assassins, is left strangely bereft in the days of eerie crisis following the Ides of March. . . . I enjoyed Dictator enormously. Harris loves Cicero and communicates his own fascination with the epic showdown that constituted the fall of the Roman Republic. . . . A sensational political thriller . . . It is often funny and touching. I could not put it down. Edith Hall, The Guardian
  • [This is] one of the best political-military events in history and Harris takes full advantage of the time, the place and the events. . . . this superbly structured and fast-paced novel brings the epoch alive, ties it in to current events and brings the cast of living characters—Caesar, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, et al. —to vivid brawling life. . . . Compared with this series of perfectly true events, Watergate really was a fifth-rate burglary and Richard Nixon’s henchmen simply a gang of plumbers. You will read every one of its pages with relish. Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail (Canada)
  • A remarkable literary achievement . . . A trilogy that is likely to stand alongside the works of Robert Graves and Mary Renault as an enduring imaginative vision of the ancient world. Stephanie Merritt, The Guardian
  • There’s a huge amount to enjoy in this Roman romp. Sam Leith, Financial Times
  • A tremendous creation . . . Harris always tells a great story. Natalie Haynes, Independent (London)
  • With Dictator Robert Harris brings his Cicero trilogy to a triumphant, compelling and deeply moving conclusion. The three novels are surely the finest fictional treatment of Ancient Rome in the English language. They are distinguished by mastery of the sources, sympathetic imagination, political intelligence and narrative skill. Harris has the unusual ability to combine amplitude with rapidity. . . . [Dictator] is a wonderful, dramatic story, wonderfully told. Even a reader who knows it well will be gripped, and respond to the tragedy. The author’s research has been fully absorbed. He writes . . . as if he were crouched under a table, an unsuspected listener to the conversation. Everything rings true. . . . This last novel is complete and satisfying in itself. You don’t have to have read the two previous ones to enjoy it . . . however if you come fresh to Dictator, you will surely want to go back to its predecessors. Allan Massie, The Scotsman
  • [A] superb novel . . . compelling . . . thrilling . . . Informed by Harris’s wide reading of classical texts and his intimate knowledge of current intrigue, [Dictator] proves that when it comes to ruthless politics, there’s nothing new under the sun. It confirms Harris’s undisputed place as our leading master of both the historical and contemporary thriller. Nigel Jones, The Daily Mail
  • Masterful . . . Harris rises dramatically to the occasion . . . [Dictator] makes a moving end to Harris’s superb trilogy, which does full justice to one of Rome’s most interesting, complex and humane statesmen, whose pragmatic political treatises proved so influential during the renaissance and enlightenment. Peter Jones, Evening Standard
  • [A] triumphant conclusion . . . chilling . . . Harris’s depiction of Caesar impresses, but it is his portrait of his ambivalent hero that gives Dictator its real strength. . . . Harris has offered such richness of characterization and depth of vision. There is never any shortage of fiction about Ancient Rome, but Harris, in this book and its prequels, makes nearly all his competitors seem slightly simple-minded and unsophisticated. Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times
  • A fitting end to a magnificent trilogy. . . . Does not disappoint—Dictator is just as sinuous, clever and compelling as the earlier books. . . . Hugely moving. Paul Connolly, The Metro
  • Harris is not only a hugely successful writer of popular novels but a powerful writer about political practice. He starkly displays Cicero’s view of how the Roman Republic tottered from three-man to two-man to one-man rule, the stands of principle and struggles of compromise. . . . Harris has a delightful mastery of the political then-as-now. Peter Stothard, The Spectator
  • Robert Harris is an incomparable storyteller. Whether he is writing about Bletchley Park, Soviet Russia, the Dreyfus Affair or contemporary hedge-fund management, he builds up a convincing picture of the society he is describing. That is certainly true of his four novels about the Ancient World. . . . It’s a brutal tale of murder and mayhem and a tour de force of research and imagination which once again underlines Harris’ position as one of the UK’s leading writers of popular fiction. Vanessa Berridge, The Daily Express
  • Thrilling . . . The events and political upheavals of these years are some of the most complicated in ancient history. Undaunted, Harris remains impressively faithful to the ancient sources, embellishing the gaps with terse dialogue, exhilarating exchanges and witty observations of some of the lesser-known senators. . . . His novel often feels like the best kind of narrative history, at once frenetic but measured in its assessment of the characters who brought the Republic to an end. Daisy Dunn, New Statesman
  • “In Dictator, Harris musters all of his literary might and delivers a saga worthy of Cicero’s quill. . . . Dictator considers questions of ancient and modern political relevance while keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. . . . Harris brilliantly brings each of his characters to life with a stroke of his perfectly poised brush. . . . While much has been written about Cicero over the past two millennia, Dictator will surely stand on its own as one of the best, a truly masterful work. Harris brings Cicero to life like no other historical fiction writer has before. One can’t help but think that the old man himself would be proud with the portrait Harris skillfully paints. This isn’t just a book; it’s an event you won’t want to miss. Carly Silver, About.com
  • Marvelously entertaining . . . [a] cracking good read . . . This is historical fiction that respects both history and fiction. . . . Harris’s recitation of these events is gripping, vivid and generates huge suspense even though the outcome is, ahem, well-known to history. . . . Greg Dixon, New Zealand Herald
  • [Harris is] the king of the political thriller. His dense plots, in which he deploys a masterly ability to organize complex material, require readers to pay close attention to elaborate twists and intricacies; his cool, crisp, unadorned style elevates the genre to a status that bridges the gap between commercial and literary fiction. Caroline Baum, The Sydney Morning Herald
  • A whopper of a yarn . . . highbrow beach reading. Nicholas Reid, Stuff (New Zealand)
  • Astonishing . . . striking . . . compelling. Philip White, The Huffington Post UK
  • “Sinuous, clever, and compelling…A fitting end to a magnificent trilogy.”

    Metro (UK)

  • One of the Best Books of the Year: The Guardian, The Herald (Scotland), The Sunday Times (London), and The Spectator
  • Harris is incapable of writing an unenjoyable book. . . . He captures the senselessness of triumviral intrigue magnificently, not relenting as the players meet their gruesome ends. Maxwell Carter, The Wall Street Journal
  • “Confirms Harris’s undisputed place as our leading master of both the historical and contemporary thriller.”

    Daily Mail (London)

  • “Harris has a delightful mastery of the political then-as-now, the self-righteous war-criminal (Caesar with a hint of Blair), the mad, veteran autocrat (Caesar with a hint of Thatcher).”

    Spectator (London)

  • A Vulture.com Pick for Books You Need to Read This January
  • A Kirkus Reviews Pick for 11 Books That Grab You from Page One
  • A 2016 Walter Scott Prize Longlist Selection
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