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Robin Lane Fox is Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford, and was until 2014 Reader in Ancient History in Oxford University. He is the author of Pagans and Christians (1986), The Unauthorised Version (1992) and many books on classical history, including Alexander the Great (1973), The Classical World (2005) and Travelling Heroes (2008), all of which have been widely translated. He has been the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times since 1970.
Confessions is so perfect that one can't help wondering why anyone would accept the challenge of writing a biography of its author. What could a historian possibly add to this unforgettable story? Fifty years ago we learned how much more there was to say when Peter Brown published his magnificent life, Augustine of Hippo. ... Robin Lane Fox, a British historian retired from Oxford, has now done Brown one better. The author of Pagans and Christians, a superb and accessible study of late antiquity, he has now given us a massive book on roughly the first half of Augustine's life, running from his youth to the writing of Confessions. Brown managed to tell the whole story, from birth to death, with great economy and flair. Fox aims for full immersion, and he conjures the intellectual and social life of the late Roman empire with an almost Proustian relish for detail. Augustine left behind dozens of books and hundreds of letters, all of which Fox seems to have consulted. He also provides vivid sketches of the saint's friends, acquaintances, correspondents, patrons and spiritual enemies. At points I had the sense of being in an American restaurant where each portion is large enough to feed an entire family. But Fox is such a good writer that interest never flags and you always feel that "you are there." -- Mark Lilla New York Times Book Review Lane Fox's book is undoubtedly a watershed in Augustinian studies, close in significance to Peter Brown's great biography in the 1960s. ... the magisterial and compellingly readable narrative ... makes full and creative use of all the best recent scholarship, especially from France ... this is a well-presented book, and a substantial contribution to the field. -- Rowan Williams New Statesman Any reader interested in one of the early church's most influential figures, a saint we know more about than any other from the ancient world, will find this stimulating biography a pleasure to read. -- Peter Jones Times Augustine's Confessions vividly makes present to us the world of the late Roman empire. And Lane Fox, with the power of his writing and deep familiarity with the huge circuit of Augustinian texts, reveals with remarkable enthusiasm and sympathy the spiritual and intellectual drama of his remarkable subject. -- John Cornwell Financial Times