Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Last King of the Jews by Jean-Claude Lattes. Translated by William Rodarmor

This is the first ever biography of Marcus Agrippa, also known as The Last King of the Jews.

Agrippa was the grandson of the infamous Herod, lifelong friend of Claudius and was the last king to reign over Palestine and unite the Jewish people prior to the destruction of their society.  Reigning for only six years, Agrippa was both lauded and applauded, hated and reviled, his reign was highly significant for the Jewish people. Following his death Jewish Palestine was completely eradicated and a million Jews were killed.

His life story reads like a Shakespearian tragi-comedy.  Full of drama and intrigue this book made for an interesting read.  Although I already knew something of the Roman period and the history of the Jews, I knew very little about Agrippa prior to reading this book.  However, a prior understanding of the period is not necessary as the author has thoughtfully included an appendix explaining the history of the Jews up to that period and which he suggests in the introduction that a reader may like to read first.

I must confess that I felt slightly overwhelmed in the first couple of chapters by the sheer volume of unfamiliar names as well as those same names being reused for offspring.  However, it did all fall into place and make sense as my reading continued.

The author also included notes at the end of each chapter which were extremely informative and threw up some interesting asides to the main text.

This book has obviously been very well researched and the author clearly has a great interest in the history of the Middle East.  He has brought together various sources to build a picture of Agrippa.  Quotes from Tacitus, Philo Judaeus and Josephus amongst others are liberally sprinkled throughout the book and serve to portray a well rounded portrayal of both Agrippa and his time.

What I liked about this book is that it reads like a novel.  It has not been fictionalised although the author claims to have staged much of the dialogue as it was not recorded but overall he has done a good job of portraying a little known historical figure in a readable way.  Anyone interested in the Roman period or the history of the Jews will get much from reading this book.

ISBN:  Available in Kindle format

Publisher:  Open Road Integrated Media

Price: (Today at  £6.17

Total saving so far:  £155.24

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