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The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction

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1 review about The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction

The Might and Glory of Rome

  • Jun 5, 2013
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Roman Empire is one of the most iconic, powerful, and influential empires in history. Its immediate influence on the course of European and Mediterranean history is self evident, but it's the influence that it exerts on the politics and culture to this day that makes it remarkable, and almost unique, in the World history.

This short introduction is in a way a companion to the Roman Republic volume in this OUP series. Unlike that book, this one is decidedly less chronological in its treatment. It focuses more on certain themes that have been prevalent throughout the course of Roman Empire - the overwhelming and brutal power of the state, the rise of Christianity, the Gladiatorial games, the life in the Roman world, etc. In that regard this is not your typical history book. This approach has certain virtues, and after reading this book I am certainly appreciating certain aspects of the Roman Empire more than I did before. For instance, the sheer scale of the battle violence that the Roman troops engaged in was something entirely new to me. The number of battle deaths was not again "achieved" until the World War I. This is remarkable since, unlike WWI, the deaths in these battles were all hand-to-hand combat with "cold" weapons.

In the end, however, I feel that this "disjointed" approach to the historical narrative leaves the reader without the sense for the "big picture." Many of the trends that this book covers did not develop irrespective of each other, but were rather intertwined in myriad ways. And this is something that only a chronologically written book can fully account for.

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June 06, 2013
The big picture is that a large and intrusive government can get out of hand very quickly.
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