Blackwell's has named Mary Beard's SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Profile) as its Book of the Year for 2016.
The company's employees were asked to nominate and then vote for their winning title from a shortlist of six, which also included The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan (Bloomsbury); Andrew Michael Hurley's The Loney (John Murray); Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (Heinneman); Katherine Rundell's The Wolf Wilder (Bloomsbury), and The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf (John Murray).
In her book, Beard, professor of Classics at Cambridge University, takes a new look at Roman history. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria, but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us. Covering 1,000 years of history, and casting "fresh light" on the basics of Roman culture from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, it has "rightly come to be regarded as a definitive history of ancient Rome", Blackwell's said.
Gareth Hardy, head of commercial at the bookseller, said: "Mary Beard has produced another brilliant accessible history title, she brings ancient history alive and our booksellers loved recommending this to our customers. Moreover, she is an author who gives great support to bookshops wherever she can."
Beard said: "Can I just say how delighted I feel that Blackwell's has chosen SPQR as its book of the year, and how very grateful I am for all they have done to sell the book. Thousands of people have got in touch with their 'inner Roman' thanks to them."
The company's employees also voted Oxford University Press as their choice for Publisher of the Year.