Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"The American Rome is Burning"

I'm more interested in the title than the article itself. In my time in Italy, I heard plenty about ancient Rome, and it seems like the Roman Empire and modern America have a whole lot in common. Both stole many of the interesting aspects of their life from other cultures (see: Greek mythology and architecture in Rome, cuisines from every nation in the US), though in many ways their role as an aggregator made life there as interesting as anywhere in the world. If I remember correctly, the Romans were great conquerors but terrible at governance... America did pretty well on the offensive in World War II, but hasn't done so well at "keeping the peace" in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. since.

I think there's a lot to learn about the direction America *could* be heading from a good history of Rome - anyone able to recommend one?

1 comment:

Josh Knox said...

I found Imperium, by Robert Harris, to be a fantastic read. The book follows the rise of Cicero, told from the perspective of his assistant Tiro. I does not cover the fall of Rome (the part we should be most concerned about?), but the concentration and militarization of power is evident. The narrative flows well and is highly entertaining

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty