Are We Rome? – Cullen Murphy
Title: Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America
Author: Cullen Murphy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Page Length: 272 pages
I picked this up from my workplace library and decided to give it a whirl. I have always been fascinated by Roman history.
Overall, the book was short enough to be engaging, but lacked historical clarity regarding essential characters (both Roman and US) and Latin phrasing. Murphy writes in a way that assumes the reader already has a strong Roman history background. Additionally, I found the Latin catch phrases annoying only because I had to research what they were actually saying.
I felt this could have been organized more efficiently and with more clarity, as it seemed to jump around and got a bit flowery with imagery at times. Murphy’s writing is stimulating enough to push through the lack of historical explanation, but much will be lost on the common reader. That being said, there were several points in the book that I found illuminating.
You can find the book on Amazon in multiple formats.
Synopsis: The rise and fall of ancient Rome has been on American minds from the beginning of our republic. Today we focus less on the Roman Republic than on the empire that took its place. Depending on who’s doing the talking, the history of Rome serves as either a triumphal call to action or a dire warming of imminent collapse.
The esteemed editor and author Cullen Murphy ventures past the pundits’ rhetoric to draw nuanced lessons about how America might avoid Rome’s demise. Working on a canvas that extends far beyond the issue of an overstretched military, Murphy reveals a wide array of similarities between the two empires: the blinkered, insular culture of our capitals; the debilitating effect of venality in public life; the paradoxical issue of borders; and the weakening of the body politic though various forms of privatization. He persuasively argues that we most resemble Rome in the burgeoning corruption of our government and in our arrogant ignorance of the world outside — two things that are in our power to change.
In lively, richly detailed historical stories based on the latest scholarship, the ancient world leaps to life and casts our own contemporary world in a provocative new light.