Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America Click the title
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by Cullen Murphy
Imagine a small agrarian republic that gradually grows into the world’s greatest military and cultural superpower. Over time, as public power is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small group of wealthy private citizens, that ruling elite falls increasingly out of touch with the world beyond its borders. Those borders, porous and steadily expanding, become ever more difficult to manage and defend. Faltering under the growing burden of policing them, the military is forced to recruit considerable mercenary support to handle conflicts that might arise, as well as those already under way. Eventually, losing its grip on power both internally and externally, the superpower enters a state of accelerating decline, ultimately fading into a shadow of its former glory.
Sound familiar? This describes the predicament the Roman Empire faced toward the end of the third century C.E.—one with obvious and disturbing parallels to the situation that confronts the United States today. Such resonances have brought the analogy between Rome and America to the minds of more than one commentator, including, most recently, the author and editor Cullen Murphy. In his new book Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, Murphy takes a closer look at the oft-made comparison between the Roman Empire and the United States, leading the reader on an entertaining jaunt through precincts ancient and modern as he sets out to test the analogy’s validity and relevance.