NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE KANSAS CITY STAR
From Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of acclaimed biographies of Cicero, Augustus, and Hadrian, comes a riveting, magisterial account of Rome and its remarkable ascent from an obscure agrarian backwater to the greatest empire the world has ever known.
Emerging as a market town from a cluster of hill villages in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., Rome grew to become the ancient world’s preeminent power. Everitt fashions the story of Rome’s rise to glory into an erudite page-turner filled with lasting lessons for our time. He chronicles the clash between patricians and plebeians that defined the politics of the Republic. He shows how Rome’s shrewd strategy of offering citizenship to her defeated subjects was instrumental in expanding the reach of her burgeoning empire. And he outlines the corrosion of constitutional norms that accompanied Rome’s imperial expansion, as old habits of political compromise gave way, leading to violence and civil war. In the end, unimaginable wealth and power corrupted the traditional virtues of the Republic, and Rome was left triumphant everywhere except within its own borders.
Everitt paints indelible portraits of the great Romans—and non-Romans—who left their mark on the world out of which the mighty empire grew: Cincinnatus, Rome’s George Washington, the very model of the patrician warrior/aristocrat; the brilliant general Scipio Africanus, who turned back a challenge from the Carthaginian legend Hannibal; and Alexander the Great, the invincible Macedonian conqueror who became a role model for generations of would-be Roman rulers. Here also are the intellectual and philosophical leaders whose observations on the art of government and “the good life” have inspired every Western power from antiquity to the present: Cato the Elder, the famously incorruptible statesman who spoke out against the decadence of his times, and Cicero, the consummate orator whose championing of republican institutions put him on a collision course with Julius Caesar and whose writings on justice and liberty continue to inform our political discourse today.
Rome’s decline and fall have long fascinated historians, but the story of how the empire was won is every bit as compelling. With The Rise of Rome, one of our most revered chroniclers of the ancient world tells that tale in a way that will galvanize, inform, and enlighten modern readers.
Praise for The Rise of Rome
“Fascinating history and a great read.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“An engrossing history of a relentlessly pugnacious city’s 500-year rise to empire.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Rome’s history abounds with remarkable figures. . . . Everitt writes for the informed and the uninformed general reader alike, in a brisk, conversational style, with a modern attitude of skepticism and realism.”—The Dallas Morning News
“[A] lively and readable account . . . Roman history has an uncanny ability to resonate with contemporary events.”—Maclean’s
“Elegant, swift and faultless as an introduction to his subject.”—The Spectator
“[An] engaging work that will captivate and inform from beginning to end.”—Booklist
Unlike its decline and fall, Rome's rise enjoys no literary tradition, but this fine history will satisfy curious readers. After dutifully recounting the founding legends, historian Everitt introduces the Republic. Born, according to tradition, in 509 B.C.E., after the overthrow of a monarchy, the Republic was an oligarchy ruled by elected consuls and a nonelected Senate. While violent conflicts occurred between the dominant patricians and plebeians (the Republic was designed "not to remove royal power but to tame it"), this was a surprisingly pragmatic system, less inclined to despotism and civil war than traditional monarchies. Soldiering was considered a privilege of citizenship. Almost continual wars led to the conquest of Italy and then most Mediterranean lands by 200 B.C.E. Reforms around 100 B.C.E. created a professional army, opening enlistment to the landless poor. This improved its fighting capacity, but shifted soldiers' loyalty away from the Republic and toward their commanders, who took advantage, resulting in bloody civil wars led by such ambitious generals as Marius, Sulla, and finally Julius Caesar, whose victory in ended the republic. Sensibly avoiding parallels with today's geopolitics, Everitt delivers an often unsettling account of a stubbornly belligerent nation-state that became the West's first superpower. Photos, maps.