Ranking: All books ranked here are deemed excellent. Those ranked with five stars are adjudged to be truly outstanding.
Some truly exquisite books listed here may receive only few stars, because their broad subject matter may only partially be relevant to Roman history.
Chronicle of the Roman Emperors ***** The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers of imperial Rome
For very detailed texts and many illustrations regarding the lives of the emperors from Augustus to Constantine this is an excellent resource, which I highly recommend and which is still currently in print, published by Thames and Hudson (www.thamesandhudson.com).
A History of Rome *****
M. Cary and H.H. Scullard
For texts describing the overall history of Rome, this in depth narration is truly excellent. It contains extensive texts, describing both chronological as well as social changes, illustrations, tactical graphics of some battles and maps. I do not think it is still in print.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire *****
ISBN 0-14-043189-6 and others
This is a historical work of huge magnitude describing the decline of the Roman world until the fall of Constantinople, which made its 18th century author perhaps the most famous historian on Rome ever. Some of Gibbon's findings have since been found to be incorrect, but as a whole, this work still stands as a monument to his name. This work is still in print, I believe, by several publishers.
The Roman Emperors ***** A Biographical Guide to the Rulers of Imperial Rome 32 BC - AD 476
This is a great collection of biographies of the Roman emperors (east and west Roman), extending from Augustus up to Romulus Augustus. The book contains detailed texts, portraits and genealogical tables of the various royal houses. This book is still currently in print.
Battles of the Greek & Roman Worlds ***** A chronological Compendium of 667 Battles to 31 BC
John Drogo Montagu
An outstanding collection of battles of Greek and Roman history. The battles only extend up to the battle of Actium, which gave Octavian supremacy over the Roman world, but the depth and quality of information are oustanding. This book is still in print.
The Oxford History of the Classical World *****
John Boardman/Jasper Griffin/Oswyn Murray
Being a product of the Oxford University Press, this naturally is an excellent resource on the classical world. It decribes the origins, the history, as well as social, cultural and religious developments of the Graeco-Roman world. This books, where concerning Rome, deals with the classical era, and so does not cover later Roman history. It contains extensive texts, illustration and maps.
I believe it to be still in print.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome *****
This book tells the tale of the Roman empire in brief texts, accompanied by many illustrations, but - most of all - with excellent maps showing many military campaigns, provinces, towns, barbarian incursions, as well as various other things. This is truly an excellent resource.
This book is currently still in print.
Daily Life in Ancient Rome *****
This book grants marvelous insight into Roman society. Describing many different aspects of Roman life it provides an excellent idea of the overall 'feel' of Roman society.
I don't know if this title if still in print.
The Romans **** An Introduction
For people who do not seek to know ever detail surrounding the hundreds of years of Roman history, but who seek to gain a general understanding of events, including a brief introduction of the main characters, as well as lifestyle, arts, etc. this book is ideal.
It is still in print (Fourth edition!).
Cruelty and Civilization: The Roman Games ****
This is a very good in depth look at the world of the Roman circuses. It examines in detail the various spectacles, such as chariot races or gladiatorial combats and also provides much information on their historical origin. Apart from the texts it also contains many illustrations of reliefs and mosaics, depicting charioteers and gladiators. I do not believe that this book is still in print.
The Great Betrayal **** Constantinople 1204
This book narrates in great detail the events surrounding the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade and the Venetian Fleet.
I do not believe that this book is still in print.
The Roman Soldier ****
This book in great detail looks at the nature of service as a Roman soldier, granting an insight into many of the details. It does not only look at the soldiers, conditions of service and standing in society, but far more goes on to try and describe the 'world' of a soldier.
I don't believe it to be still in print.
The Roman Empire ****
This book gives a summary of Roman history and some aspects such as rural life, economy and industry, etc. But what I found very intersting, was the section on the provinces, where (most of) the provinces receive a brief description of how tey enetered the empire and perhaps some background information.
I do not know if this book is still in print.
Julius Caesar **** A Beginner's Guide
A very well writen piece, introducing the life of Julius Caesar to newcomers. It structured into several chapters describing various aspects of Caesar's life. Also a neat feature are grey boxes on some pages pointing out 'key facts'.
Highly recommendable for anyone not familiar with Roman history who wishes to learn more about the most famous Roman of all times.
It is still in print.
The Art of War in the Middle Ages *** Volume One: 378-1278 AD
Sir Charles Oman
This series of books on the art of war is a very interesting analysis of warfare of the age, although it must be said, only a fraction of the books' contents refer to Roman warfare.
However, where it does it contains highly informative texts on the nature of organisation within the later Roman armies as well as graphics of the tactics in some historical battles.
I am not sure, though I don't believe it to be still in print.
A History of Heresy ***
This book is perhaps only of limited interest to the student of Roman history, but it grants a detailed insight into the nature of Christian 'heresies' which were persecuted through time. Thereby it grants a good insight into the nature of the Christianization of the empire. Not all heresies described are still part of Roman history, but a good part of the first section of the book is.
I don't believe it to be still in print.
Gilbert Charles Picard & Colette Picard
If not necessarily of immediate interest to the student of Roman history, this book offers excellent insight into Rome's near-mythical enemy in the Punic Wars. What little is known of Carthaginian history, culture and society is gathered together in this impressive work. I don't believe it to be still in print.
Greece and Rome at War ***
Although to one half dealing with the history of the Greek armies, this book, using text as well as very good illustrations, looks at the gradual development of the Roman army, ranging from descriptions of early Latin and Sabine warriors to the later imperial Roman armies.
I do not know if it is still in print.
Books recommended for reading, but not yet ranked:
Rome Its people, life and customs
Ugo Enrico Paoli
Everyday Life of the Barbarians Goths, Franks and Vandals
The Later Roman Empire
The Reach of Rome A History of the Roman Imperial Frontier 1st-5th Centuries AD
Frontiers of the Roman Empire
The Roman Imperial Army
ISBN 0 7136 19090
The Penguin Encyclopedia of Classical Civilizations
The World of the Romans
J F Drinkwater & Andrew Drummond
Religions of Rome Volume 1 & 2
Mary Beard, John North, Simon Price
Roman Army - Wars of the Empire Brassey’s History of Uniforms
The Great Commanders
Roman Towns in Britain
Guy de la Bédoyère
Byzantium - The early Centuries
John Julius Norwich
Early Christian & Byzantine Architecture
Warfare in the ancient World
General Sir John Hacket
The Emperor in the Roman World
Two thousand Years The First Millenium: The Birth of Christianity to the Crusades