We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.


On sale

6th July 2023

Price: £29.99

Select a format

Selected: Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781405534390

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.


‘Holland, who co-hosts the podcast The Rest Is History, is at his best when having fun with Rome’s bloody history’ The Times

‘A book for lovers of traditional, grand sweep narrative history’ Sunday Times

The definitive history of Rome’s golden age – antiquity’s ultimate superpower at the pinnacle of its greatness

The Pax Romana has long been revered as a golden age. At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland to Arabia, and contained perhaps a quarter of humanity. It was the wealthiest and most formidable state the world had yet seen.

Beginning in 69AD, a year that saw four Caesars in succession rule the empire, and ending some seven decades later with the death of Hadrian, Pax presents a dazzling history of Rome at the height of its power. From the gilded capital to realms beyond the frontier, historian Tom Holland portrays the Roman Empire in all its predatory glory. Vivid scene follows vivid scene: the destruction of Jerusalem and Pompeii, the building of the Colosseum and Hadrian’s Wall, the conquests of Trajan. Vividly sketching the lives of Romans both ordinary and spectacular, from slaves to emperors, Holland demonstrates how Roman peace was the fruit of unprecedented military violence.

A stunning portrait of Rome’s glory days, this is the epic history of the pax Romana.


New York Times Book Review
A lucid account... Holland's feel for the lived experience of antiquity is one of the best features of the book
Holland is a master of immediacy... [a] fascinating time, skilfully sparked into life
Robbie Millen, The Times
A sweeping, colourful history of Rome at its swaggering, superpower zenith by The Rest is History podcaster and bestselling author. Hail Caesar! Hail Tom Holland!
Llewelyn Morgan, History Today
A rich and fascinating period of history requires a companionable guide. Holland's erudite and irresistibly readable account amounts to a marvellous vademecum
Irish Examiner
As ever, it is a pleasure to trail after Tom Holland, a loquacious, ebullient guide... full of Hollandesque phrasemaking that can both delight his readers and imprint history on our dull brains
Wall Street Journal
The span of conflicts Mr Holland deals with in Pax, from Britain to modern Iran, showcases the breadth of his learning... One looks forward to many future deep dives with this remarkably gifted historian
Christopher Hart, Daily Mail
Pax is a superb conclusion to Holland's trilogy. There's no other historian who can bring the ancient world before the reader in all its sights, sounds and smells, its pomp, magnificence and martial glory, its strivings and sufferings and horror. Riveting from first page to last
Gavanndra Hodge, Sunday Times
This is not an underexamined period of history, but Holland handles his material (his sources are primarily Roman: Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio) with rigour and elan. He has a compelling narrative style and an eye for diverting detail. This is a book for lovers of traditional, grand sweep narrative history
Literary Review
A magnificent, richly detailed and always fluently readable book. He modulates the pace of his narrative excellently and I have read nothing which gives such a detailed and compelling account of the political and administrative life of the provinces and their relations with the imperial government. A better history for the general reader could not have been written
Financial Times
Holland has an eye for an evocative anecdote. The chapter opening with the pen*s of a 90-year-old man being inspected in a court of law is a masterpiece. And his prose is superb. In one poetic passage he describes 'smoke drifting from the roofs of tenant farms; vineyards and orchards laden down with succulent fruit; herds of cattle lowing softly in the deepening twilight'. Rarely has the distant past seemed so vividly alive
Aspects of History
Masterful and engaging... The idea of death as the foundation of life, chaos as the foundation of order, war as the foundation of peace, is central to this outstanding book
A triumph... Holland has a talent for drawing out the character and concerns of the age, whilst neither omitting nor being overwhelmed by the facts and dates. His account of the eruption of Vesuvius is dramatic, moving and rivals the set-pieces of the classical historians
Patrick Kidd, The Times
Holland, who co-hosts the podcast The Rest Is History, is at his best when having fun with Rome's bloody history. He has a novelist's vibrant writing style and turns a good phrase. Familiar elements of this period, such as the destruction of Pompeii, still feel fresh in his retelling and he avoids the temptation of so many joyless modern classicists to moralise about what rotters these Romans were with their slavery and their bloodshed and their lack of a proper safeguarding mission statement. He judges them purely by their own values
Daisy Dunn, Sunday Telegraph
For all the years that have separated the publication of each book in his trilogy, Holland is a surprisingly consistent writer, one whose style you could recognise at a glance. There may be less back-stabbing and court intrigue in this book than in Rubicon and Dynasty; but in allowing us to tread the further reaches of empire through the eyes of the men holding the reins, Pax provides a deeper and more complex vista on Rome... a masterful blend of subtle politics and carnal colour
Holland's superb storytelling takes us right into this era as viewed from every standpoint, offering fresh insights into well-worn history