Allan Massie

Best Of A Bad Lot

Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor


The Bodley Head 400pp £20 order from our bookshop

Readers of this magazine need no introduction to Frank McLynn. They know him as a reviewer ready to tackle a huge variety of subjects, from film to psychoanalysis to obscure periods of history, and to write with lively and opinionated authority on all of them. His career as a biographer and historian has also been remarkable. Disdaining the restrictions that conscientious academic historians impose on themselves – ‘not my period’ – he has written on subjects ranging from the Jacobites to Jung, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Napoleon, from Pancho Villa and Zapata to Richard the Lionheart and his brother John Lackland. Now he has turned to the ancient world with a biography of Marcus Aurelius, last of the Five Good Emperors in the age of the Antonines, soldier and philosopher, and author of the Meditations, which influenced Pascal and John Stuart Mill, and were quoted by Jeeves to the bemusement of Bertie Wooster. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,