MACKAY , Chr.S.,
The Breakdown of the Roman Republic. From Oligarchy to Empire.
Cambridge University Press, 2012. 462p. ills. Paperback. 'Allowed both his target audience (the general public) and his understated goals ('I have eschewed extended argument with other interpretations of individual points in favor of giving a relatively unitary presentation of my own views') Christopher S. Mackay has written an exemplary and noteworthy account of the late Roman Republic's transition from oligarchy to empire. The only chapter that can be judged less than a complete success is the first - 'Historical Background'. There Mackay attempts in 25 pages to cover the Early and Middle Republic, to introduce to the reader the institutional and social structure of the Republican state, and to presage the tensions that led to its destruction. A novice reader might find the quick delivery of this complicated mass somewhat disorientating. However, once Mackay settles into his regular narrative pace, it is hard to imagine a clearer or steadier exposition than the one he delivers. (...) Two special features distinguish Mackay's text. Firstly a series of thirty-seven numismatic plates--referred to at the apposite places in the narrative and along with Mackay's descriptive analyses. These plates provide as compelling an introduction to the numismatic treasures of Roman antiquity as one can imagine. Secondly, each chapter is concluded with a series of Questions for Study and Reflection. (...) All in all Mackay has produced a popular masterpiece that will please all but the most ardent admirers of Cicero and the most diehard of populares. His work deserves a place on every university and public library collection. Bravo. (WALTER M. ROBERTS III in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.12.65).