Review of Grant's Biography of Constantine

I do not have a huge amount to say about the book, but here is a few notes on Grant’s The Emperor Constantine. Though brief, I hope you find it useful.

You voted, and I have already started on Ehrman’s Lost Christianities. I am quite sure already that I will have more to say about this one. There are several things I am enjoying about the books, though I am not without critique. I guess that is the nature of book reviews; it is easier to come up with problems with a book if you are more familiar with the subject matter.

Characteristics: (where 1 is bad, 3 is average, and 5 is superb)

  • Interestingness: 3.5
  • Subject Matter: ?
  • Organization: 3
  • Binding: 3

Constantine is one of the most important figures in western history; good or bad, Constantine shaped everything in the former Roman Empire and all countries which sprang from it, as well as many beyond. It is good to have biographies of such important men.

Michael Grant, popular writer about much of classical history, composed a biography of Constantine in 1993 which I have finally got around to reading. Even though I am quite interested in the classical world, this is the first book of his I have read. Is he worth reading again?

Based on this book, yes, I believe so. He is a good writer and is obviously knowledgeable of the ancient world and seems to be of the subject of this book. The farther back you go in history, the harder it is to reconstruct what someone was really like, but Grant does what he can. Fortunately, there is a good bit of material on Constantine out there. Even though there are gaps in our knowledge, much can be learned or theorized based on what we know.

As far as the subject matter is concerned, I have to remain reserved in my review. Though it is generally quite consistent with what I have read on Constantine, I cannot claim to know enough about the matter to judge Grant’s presentation critically (which is why I left the subject matter rating above undecided).

If you are looking for a book on Constantine and his influence, this is a good book to read. Any decent Christian History book will cover Constantine so there is no derth of material out there on the famous emperor, though book-length treatments such as this can give you detail into the life of an important man that you cannot get in a general introduction to early Christian History. I do recommend the book for those interested in the time period.