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View Full Version : If you are concerned about the state of the USA, may I recommend this book ?



Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-28-2018, 11:58 AM
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Storm-Before-Beginning-Roman-Republic/dp/1610397215

I quote the Amazon blurb, but I have bought it, and I found it un-put-down-able:

The Roman Republic was one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of civilization. After its founding in 509 BCE, Rome grew from an unremarkable Italian city-state to the dominant superpower of the Mediterranean world. Through it all, the Romans never allowed a single man to seize control of the state. Every year for four hundred years the annually elected consuls voluntarily handed power to their successors. Not once did a consul give in to the temptation to grab absolute power and refuse to let it go. It was a run of political self-denial unmatched in the history of the world. The disciplined Roman republicans then proceeded to explode out of Italy and conquer a world filled with petty tyrants, barbarian chieftains, and despotic kings.
But the very success of the Republic proved to be its undoing. The republican system was unable to cope with the vast empire Rome ruled. Bankrolled by mountains of imperial wealth and without a foreign enemy to keep them united, ambitious Roman leaders began to stray from the republican austerity of their ancestors. Almost as soon as they had conquered the Mediterranean, Rome would become engulfed in violent political conflicts and civil wars that would destroy the Republic less than a century later.
The Storm Before the Storm tells the story of the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic--the story of the first generation that had to cope with the dangerous new political environment made possible by Rome's unrivaled domination over the known world. The tumultuous years from 133-80 BCE set the stage for the fall of the Republic.
The Republic faced issues like rising economic inequality, increasing political polarization, the privatization of the military, endemic social and ethnic prejudice, rampant corruption, ongoing military quagmires, and the ruthless ambition and unwillingness of elites to do anything to reform the system in time to save it--a situation that draws many parallels to present-day America. These issues are among the reasons why the Roman Republic would fall. And as we all know, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

switters
09-28-2018, 12:09 PM
Got halfway through SPQR and found that the style of writing is not to my taste although the history tidbits are fun.

Will give the Storm Before the Storm a try.

Sky Blue
09-28-2018, 12:14 PM
Ecclesiastes 1:9

switters
09-28-2018, 12:24 PM
Ecclesiastes 1:9

It is not the biggest, the brightest or the best that will survive, but those who adapt the quickest. (https://www.azquotes.com/quote/602071)
Charles Darwin (https://www.azquotes.com/author/3658-Charles_Darwin)

David G
09-28-2018, 12:31 PM
Ecclesiastes 1:9

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.


An example of the wisdom that resides in all of the major religious texts.

If you follow history, you know it's time for either a correction or an acceptance of the failure of THIS Republic.

Donn
09-28-2018, 12:46 PM
Which state?

J.Madison
09-28-2018, 01:17 PM
Its a good read, and its explicitly NOT about the US. Although the parallels are easily seen for anyone who cares to look.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-28-2018, 04:54 PM
Which state?

The most high and palmy state of Rome.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-28-2018, 04:59 PM
Its a good read, and its explicitly NOT about the US. Although the parallels are easily seen for anyone who cares to look.

Exactly. It’s a serious history book, about a state, a Republic, with the most perfect constitution yet seen, which gradually turned into an a dictatorship when its politicians stopped “playing by the rules” and let in populism. This all happened a very long time ago, in another continent...

Tom from Rubicon
09-28-2018, 05:33 PM
Just ordered it Andrew. Thanks for the heads up. One good thing about the Bilge, I get some great references for reading material.
Tom

PeterSibley
09-28-2018, 07:22 PM
My name is Ozymandias
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains

WI-Tom
09-29-2018, 03:37 PM
My name is Ozymandias
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains

These days in the U.S. it's more like this:

I met a sculptor in an antique land
Who said, "I carved some legs out on the sand.
Near them, I put this busted-up old head
That looks just like some Pharaoh who's been dead
A real long time. His name, I think, was... Hell,
I can't remember. Anyways, I tell
The tourists he's one of those ancient kings
Who built some pyramids and other things
Like obelisks and Sphinxes. On his face
I carved a sneer of cold command--a trace
Of who he though he was. And on the stand
I chiseled ornate lettering--it's grand!
The viewing fee's five bucks--pay just five more,
And I'll translate the carved words: Caveat Emptor."

Tom

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-29-2018, 03:54 PM
Bravo!

WI-Tom
09-29-2018, 06:43 PM
Thanks--I wrote that in grad school a long time ago. It seems all too apt a characterization of our current political circus here in the U.S., though I had no such thing in mind at the time.

Thanks for the book suggestion as well. I find the Roman Republic fascinating. Lots to admire. Also a cautionary tale. I'll check it out.

Tom

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-29-2018, 07:57 PM
Before it was famous for its army and its civil engineering, Rome was famous for the stability, and, as contemporaries saw it, the wisdom, of of its Constitutional arrangements, full of checks and balances to ensure that no-one could accumulate power.

The Army, made up of land owning citizens, only, was commanded on alternate days by each of the two Consuls. And so on. No other state had anything like it and none of them kept their constitutional arrangements for long periods...

Donn
09-29-2018, 08:24 PM
Percy just texted me. He would appreciate being quoted correctly:


'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'

Osborne Russell
09-30-2018, 09:35 AM
Exactly. It’s a serious history book, about a state, a Republic, with the most perfect constitution yet seen, which gradually turned into an a dictatorship when its politicians stopped “playing by the rules” and let in populism. This all happened a very long time ago, in another continent...

Back then, the rabble had an excuse. The excuse of ignorance. We don't.

WI-Tom
09-30-2018, 06:15 PM
Percy just texted me. He would appreciate being quoted correctly:

As long as we're correcting each other over trivial things, I think Mr. Shelley would prefer the correct capitalization and punctuation as well:


My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Donn
10-01-2018, 10:29 AM
Style, including capitalization and punctuation, were capricious in Shelley's day. Redacting text was not.