What We Are Reading Today: The War for Gaul by Julius Caesar

Updated 30 January 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The War for Gaul by Julius Caesar

Imagine a book about an unnecessary war written by the ruthless general of an occupying army — a vivid and dramatic propaganda piece that forces the reader to identify with the conquerors and that is designed, like the war itself, to fuel the limitless political ambitions of the author. Could such a campaign autobiography ever be a great work of literature — perhaps even one of the greatest? It would be easy to think not, but such a book exists — and it helped transform Julius Caesar from a politician on the make into the Caesar of legend. This remarkable new translation of Caesar’s famous but underappreciated War for Gaul captures, like never before in English, the gripping and powerfully concise style of the future emperor’s dispatches from the front lines in what are today France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland.

While letting Caesar tell his battle stories in his own way, distinguished classicist James O’Donnell also fills in the rest of the story in a substantial introduction and notes that together explain why Gaul is the “best bad man’s book ever written.”


What We Are Reading Today: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

Updated 25 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

  • Wallace-Wells talks about humanity’s existential threats

The Uninhabitable Earth reveals the true pace and severity of climate change. 

Author David Wallace-Wells talks about humanity’s existential threats, but also how humans respond to this really urgent news. Some don’t want to know, others lapse into despair. 

“The author does a good job of pointing out that our future is really unknown. Most importantly, how will humans behave to try and save the biosphere. If somehow we all pull together we may be able to mute the worst of our possible futures. Also, he acknowledges that future technology is a possible game-changer, although he is not optimistic,” said a review published in goodreads.com.

“The author’s own career focuses on climate change, and he has all the sources and resources at his command. It shows clearly in the breath of data he draws on. And they are all connected, with feedback loops and knock-on effects that can magnify a bad situation into a disaster. Wallace makes those connections clear,” it added.