Caesar’s Footprints: Journeys to Roman Gaul

Written by Bijan Omrani
Review by Chris James

Caesar’s Footprints is an excellent and thorough account of many aspects of Roman Gaul (roughly equivalent to modern-day France), from general life in town and country to religious and cultural changes. It begins though with an overview of Gaul prior to Roman rule, in which its position in the Roman imagination as the barbarian other is highlighted, before moving on to a detailed account of Gaul’s conquest by Julius Caesar. Here, no apologies are made for the cynical motives and brutal nature of his campaigns. The book then covers the aforementioned aspects of Roman Gaul throughout the whole period of Roman occupation, and it is from these chapters that a real appreciation of Rome’s importance to modern-day France can be gleaned. This leaves the question of whether the later benefits justified the initial, inhumane invasion.

I very much enjoyed reading this book. It addresses a topic not often covered but arguably very significant, making many pertinent and intriguing points along the way. Recommended.