'A political thriller, and a human story that astonishes' Hilary Mantel
Many men killed Julius Caesar. Only one man was determined to kill the killers. From the spring of 44 BC through one of the most dramatic and influential periods in history, Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, exacted vengeance on the assassins of the Ides of March, not only on Brutus and Cassius, immortalised by Shakespeare, but all the others too, each with his own individual story.
The last assassin left alive was one of the lesser-known, Cassius Parmensis, a poet and sailor who chose every side in the dying republic's civil wars except the winning one, a playwright whose work was said to have been stolen and published by the man sent to kill him. Parmensis was in the back row of the plotters, many of them Caesar's friends, who killed for reasons of the highest political philosophy and lowest personal pique. For fourteen years he was the most successful at evading his hunters but has been barely a historical foot note - until now.
THE LAST ASSASSIN dazzlingly charts an epic turn of history through the eyes of an unheralded man. It is a history of a hunt that an emperor wanted to hide, of torture and terror, politics and poetry, of ideas and their consequences, a gripping story of fear, revenge and survival.
Peter Stothard is an author, journalist and critic. He is a former editor of The Times and of The Times Literary Supplement. His books include ALEXANDRIA, THE LAST NIGHTS OF CLEOPATRA and ON THE SPARTACUS ROAD, A SPECTACULAR JOURNEY THROUGH ANCIENT ITALY. He lives in Cambridge.
Clear and urgent as the day's news, The Last Assassin is a grim study of unintended consequences. It brings into sharp focus events that many of us only half-know, and tells a story sadder and more complex than we can imagine, giving a new life not only to Caesar and his killers but to the common people who filled the mass graves of the Roman wars. It is written with authority, passion and insight - a political thriller, and a human story that astonishes.
Peter Stothard is a master of modern writing about ancient Rome. An implacable dictator cannot rest happy until each of his father's many killers is dead. A gripping history for today of how the assassins of Julius Caesar fell one-by-one, with ever fewer places to hide, before the vengeance of a would-be emperor
Half thriller, half elegy for a lost Republic, The Last Assassin traces the after-shocks of Caesar's murder as one by one the conspirators were eliminated to make way for a new Roman order. Stothard's writing is atmospheric and gripping, and his scholarship impeccable
Greg Woolf, author of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANCIENT CITIES AND ROME: AN EMPIRE'S STORY
The Last Assassin is a compelling true-life thriller, profoundly researched, beautifully written, and a dire lesson in what happens when idealism meets tyranny and political freedom dies
DAILY MAIL 'Book of the Week' - Christopher Hart
Stothard's history of the hunting down of the murderers by Antony and Octavian, Caesar's great-nephew and heir, who are first accomplices then bitter rivals as they each seek the throne, is a riveting, fast-paced thriller that makes one think of the brutal settling of scores at the end of The Godfather
THE TIMES - Patrick Kidd
[A] gripping, gorgeously written new account of the killing and its consequences ... Stothard explores the familiar ground with fresh, engaging and learned eyes, displaying a novelist's knack for redolent and evocative detail, from cicadas and lizards to the press and horror of battle ... Stothard is excellent on the machinations and murmurings that recruited the killers ... the excitement and danger of the times are skilfully drawn ... Stothard weaves wonders from threads ... This book reminds us powerfully of the supreme importance of individual freedom against an overweening state; of being able to speak truth to those in authority
THE SPECTATOR - Philip Womack
In this stimulating book, Peter Stothard focuses on the less-heralded players in the aftermath of Caesar's murder, tracing the period through the varied ends of his killers - in battle, by suicide or at the executioner's hand ... Stothard's compelling book gives shape to the political infighting, combining vivid personal detail ... Stothard writes with a poet's eye for atmosphere and a novelist's imagination in reconstructing events ... he also draws on a deep knowledge of the Roman context, and a sensitivity to the human complexity of events; his account stresses above all the plotters' uncertainty, fear and misery. All in all, this is a striking and evocative treatment of this transformative period
BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE - Edwin Shaw
The Last Assassin is the most immediate account of Caesar's murder I have ever read. Even though the outcome of the Ides of March is one everybody knows, Stothard manages to endow it with something of the urgency and tension of a thriller
NEW STATESMAN - Tom Holland
Stothard's portrait of Parmensis as a tragic poet - a Thyestes was among his works - and keen Epicurean philosopher certainly humanises him. He emerges, indeed, as a most sensitive killer. If his initial motivations remain shadowy, then his gumption and determination to stay alive - or at the very least stare death honourably in the face - reverberate clearly through Stothard's tense and thrilling narrative
THE CRITIC - Daisy Dunn
The excellent Last Assassin by Peter Stothard is a group biography of the killers of Julius Caesar, including Cassius Parmensis ... Stothard has a good eye for revealing questions ... The tale also is told with the genuine elegance we have come to expect from this author
TLS - Roy Gibson