I strongly recommend it as a book you must read, and at the earliest opportunity. Irrespective of what your reading inclinations have been, this one is an account of human struggle that every one of us ought to know.
It is one of those rare books that leave you changed, moved in many ways, and quintessentially disturbed.
The book is the undocumented history of the slave uprising in the Roman empire under the leadership of a gladiator – Spartacus. A powerful book that in its barest form talks of the constant struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed, and the human values of freedom, hope and the spirit of life.
The narrative is quite brilliant too, wherein there is really never direct tale unfolding by the protagonist – Spartacus, but mostly a reminiscent account from the antagonists, Spartacus’ wife, comrades of the revolt and a vivid description by the author. More strikingly, towards the end of the book Varinia, Spartacus’ wife makes equal impact on the readers although the tale is about Spartacus. Many of the conversations instilled into the narrative are timeless – most of the political talks and the struggle described are quite valid even to this day.
I further discovered that this powerful book by Howard Fast, was a strong response by him during the McCarthy era in the US. Fast was imprisoned for three years for his involvement with the Communist Party in the USA. He published the book without a publisher, for no one would partner with Fast.
And the result is this brilliant book, written more than six decades ago and still runs shivers down the spine when read. Not the images of the gore, or the war that is succinctly described in the book, but the thought that we now live in a world that is built upon these atrocities softens me. And the thought that even now circumstances are not any different to many bothers, and infuriates me.