Written by Anthony Everitt
Review by Gerald T. Burke

Marcus Tullius Cicero was born in 106 BCE to a well-connected provincial family. Throughout his early years, he immersed himself in reading and studies. With his keen intellect and sharp wit, he entered civic life and quickly became Rome’s most outstanding lawyer; also, his shrewd political skills made him one of Rome’s major power brokers.

In this lively, compelling biography, Anthony Everitt creates a vivid portrait. Cicero comes alive in the context of the society and culture of his times. Everitt shows how Cicero, the public man, navigated the hazardous and frequently fatal waters that constituted Roman society (he sets the tone for the times by opening the book with a detailed narrative of the assassination of Julius Caesar). Everitt also shows Cicero’s personal side. He was, like many Romans, a dedicated family man as both a loyal husband and loving father. Still, Everitt does not shy away from his dark side; he could be pompous, mean, and vengeful in both public and private life. Overall, this biography reads like fiction; yet the author adds numerous sources for additional reading. This is an enlightening read for anyone interested in Roman or Western history.