Cullen Murphy's Are We Rome?

Cullen Murphy’s Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America is definitely worth reading, particularly if your knowledge of Roman history is lacking (click here to view all my posts about this book).

I don’t know enough about Roman history to properly evaluate the points Murphy makes but I still found it interesting. Murphy writes for the average person and not the highly educated scholar.

Murphy is clearly well-read and appears to have done substantial research for this book. I was surprised by how often he mentioned other books. Some of the books he mentioned are:

The breadth of Murphy’s sources is astonishing. He even quoted video games such as Rome: Total War and several movies — including Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Gladiator, and Spartacus.

I found that I enjoyed this book immensely at the start but found my interest wavering as I got further into the book. But Murphy concludes this book rather succinctly with what he calls the “Titus Livius 100-year Workout Plan”:

  1. Instill an appreciation of the wider world, including creation of immigration-friendly policies and an increase in the number of Americans who are fluent in another language.
  2. Stop treating government as a necessary evil and instead rely on it proudly for the big things it can do well.  Examples include nurturing business, reducing poverty, Social Security, and guaranteed student loans.
  3. Fortify the institutions that promote assimilation (public services for illegal immigrants).
  4. Take some weight off the military and national service.

I wonder what Murphy thinks of the current financial crisis….hmm….

Click here to read an excerpt from Are We Rome? or click here to view the table of contents.


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