By Annelise Freisenbruch, PHD.
Free Press, $16.00, 347 pages

During the height of the Roman Empire many men shaped Western civilization. But behind each man stood wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and mistresses. Annelise Freisenbruch explores the role of these women in her book Caesars’ Wives: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Roman Empire. Freisenbruch breaks her book up into stories that tell about the lives of the various women with different personalities and power. Women highlighted include Livia, Fausta, Julia and Poppaea. An extensive family tree in the beginning of the book is very informative and anyone interested in genealogy can respect the time required to construct it. Freisenbruch has worked with and written about this period of world history for many years. She has studied and taught Classics in Cambridge and has worked as a research assistant on popular books and films including productions for the BBC. If readers want to further pursue a certain topic, Freisenbruch’s bibliography provides the necessary information. Readers can enjoy detailed writing and appreciate the research required to tell these stories. Freisenbruch successfully entertains readers while still providing historical analysis. It is eye-opening to learn these women helped shape political, cultural and aspects of Western civilization.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin