In this comment, a reader poses the question:
"…I managed to land a job as a tour guide in Rome. Now, one of the things I get asked a lot by normal people (that is, probably not all the interested before but could become interested) what would be some good starter books for Roman History. Most of what I know comes from lectures and scholarly materials and the classics themselves, which are not going to fly with a lay audience, so I've been looking for other options. I feel a bit uneasy recommending something like McCullough (although I do) because she's so long. I had read good thing's about Goldsworthy's new Caesar biography, although I haven't really looked for it in Italy. And I feel tentative about something like Tom Holland's "Rubicon" because it struck me as a bit pulpy (but then again, could be more appealing to the normal reader than most other things)."
Any helpful comments are appreciated!