The New Rome: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America

The title of Cullen Murphy’s delightful book The New Rome should really be Are
We Rome? That, at any rate, is the question that motivates the book – the ‘we’ in
question being the United States. (Indeed, I strongly suspect that an editor insisted
on ‘The New Rome’ to ensure that the book would sell equally in non-American
markets.) Murphy poses it in the prologue and then promptly draws six parallels
between Rome then and America now: how each power sees itself and the problems
each has with military power, the privatisation of power, the perception of the
barbarians beyond the imperial borders, the definition of those borders, and the
growing complexity of the world each tried to manage. Each of the book’s chapters
explores one of these parallels.

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