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"The first writer in the world, without a single exception," declared Thomas Jefferson of Tacitus, proclaiming this book "a compound of history and morality of which we have no other example." The ancient historian wrote this vital chronicle of Imperial Rome during the great civilization's decline. It spans A.D. 14-68, painting incisive psychological portraits of the era's major figures.Tacitus held high offices in the Roman government, allowing him firsthand views of the emperors and the effects of their tyranny. His chronicle begins with the death of Augustus and relates the moral decline and rampant civil unrest during the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. He also discusses in detail the period's many military campaigns. Masterful in his handling of dramatic narrative and trenchant in his discourse, Tacitus is the model historian. The Annals not only records the past but also re-creates it for modern readers.