Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: Ancient Rome, The Rise and Fall of an Empire

Great book. I'd known bits and pieces of the history of the Roman Empire, but this book gave me a much fuller picture. If the Pax Romana quelled wars in the greater Mediterranean region, the Romans themselves enjoyed very little of it. There was such a struggle for power between the emperors, the wannabes, the generals, that the internal history of Rome seems to be a history of assassination, rebellion, and revolution.

Baker demonstrated that one of the chief causes of turbulence--something that the political powers and usurpers cynically used to their advantage--was the disparity of income between the senatorial class and the plebs. At first I wondered if he was simply importing modern frustrations into an ancient history. But he soon proved his point by his frequent quotation of first sources.

Well-worth reading. Baker's writing is crisp, at times dryly humorous, well-paced, always engaging and heavily documented. Highly, highly recommended.