Here is my Amazon review of this book: James Romm’s book is a fascinating insight into Imperial Rome under Nero, and particularly, of course, of the complex role played in those times by the Stoic philosopher Seneca. Romm is more sympathetic to Stoicism than to Seneca himself, it must be said, and I do not have sufficient familiarity with the available historical record to judge the degree to which his attitude is fair.
Nonetheless, he is not altogether hostile to the main subject of his story (always a bad sign in a biography), my reading being that Romm is attempting to correct some common misconceptions, and perhaps a bit too much of a romantic attitude, toward the Roman philosopher. Seneca does come across as a complex figure, torn between the ideals of his Stoicism (which was fought by a number of emperors, including by recurring to full scale persecution, murder and expulsion) and the many practical compromises he had to do as mentor and political advisor to one of the craziest rulers of all time. A must read for anyone interested in philosophy, politics or history.