cover image The First Century: Emperors, Gods, and Everyman

The First Century: Emperors, Gods, and Everyman

William K. Klingaman. HarperCollins Publishers, $24.95 (402pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016447-8

Parallels between East and West abound in this robust, readable history of the first century. For example, both Augustus Caesar and Chinese emperor Wang Mang, usurper of the Han throne, saw themselves as saviors of battered, debauched civilizations. While the Chinese reannexed the newly independent state of Vietnam led by the two courageous Trung sisters (40-43 C.E.), insecure Claudius sent Roman warlord Vespasian to crush a rebellion in Britain. Klingaman ( 1929: The Year of the Great Crash ) focuses on some 20 central characters in an engrossing, cinematic narrative which regrettably excludes Africa and the Americas and selectively glances at India, Asia Minor and Western Europe. At center stage is itinerant preacher Jesus, waging a cataclysmic holy war to liberate Israel from its state of sin. (Oct.)