Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America

Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America

by Cullen Murphy
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Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America by Cullen Murphy


The rise and fall of ancient Rome has been on American minds from the beginning of our republic.Today we focus less on the Roman Republic than on the empire that took its place. Depending on who’s doing the talking, the history of Rome serves as either a triumphal call to action or a dire warning of imminent collapse. In Are We Rome? the esteemed editor and author Cullen Murphy reveals a wide array of similarities between the two empires: the blinkered, insular culture of our capitals; the debilitating effect of bribery in public life; the paradoxical issue of borders; and the weakening of the body politic through various forms of privatization. Murphy persuasively argues that we most resemble Rome in the burgeoning corruption of our government and in our arrogant ignorance of the world outside -- two things that must be changed if we are to avoid Rome’s fate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547052106
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/05/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 245,776
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Cullen Murphy is the editor at large at Vanity Fair and the former managing editor of the Atlantic Monthly. He is the author of Are We Rome?, The Word According to Eve, and the essay collection Just Curious.

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Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America 2.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first 90% contains trivial academic comparisons and the last 10% is mostly liberal rant on the beauty of legal and illegal immigration, of which Mr. Murphy fails to acknowledge any negative impacts. The last chapter, The Borders, is a rigorously perverted definition of a border. While evangelizing unlimited immigration, Mr. Murphy makes the case for acculturation while calling it assimilation. He promotes college tuition subsidy for illegal aliens, and of course, soccer and AMNESTY for illegal aliens. The flawed, useless ending seems to be the real purpose of Are We Rome? David Caulkett
Conrad_Jalowski More than 1 year ago
There are parallels drawn between the hegemony of Rome and its preponderant influence in the civilized world and the American nation in the contemporary setting. We can see parallels between the counterbalancing power of the Parthians and later the Sassanid Persians to the Roman Empire and in the modern example of America and the Middle Eastern nations and especially the Iranian state. The strains on the empire, the burden of maintaining frontier defenses along the massive empire or the military expenditure and overextension of Roman manpower in protecting Rome from inimical powers all resulted in economic exhaustion. In addition, the avarice of the ruling class [The patriciate or the aristocracy], the increasing indolence of the Roman forces with the relaxing of military discipline and the loss of the ancient martial virtue of the Romans coupled with the rivalries of numerous claimants, the constant usurpations during the late phase of the Roman Empire and the apathy and complacency of Rome's citizens all led to its gradual though inexorable fall. However, I would rather compare the American nation to the Roman Republic as the representative institutions of American have not yet slipped off the precipice and made the plunge down into an authoritarian state. In political theory, democracies pass into despotisms through a brief period of anarchy; the disorders of a free society naturally result in the accession of a despot. Will America make the descent into despotism or will the American nation protect its cherished laws and republican institutions? The spectacle of Rome and its transition from a republic to despotism looms greatly in the American imagination.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Inspire of the aythor's references to G. W. Bush, his comparisons of certain commonalities between Rome and America are, to me quite accurate. Carry his thinking over to 2014, erase partisan politics from the reader's thinking, and you have the basis for solid areas of debate. But, critical and evidence based discussion will always be trumped by emotion and bias, so don't get too optimistic about bringing his various points up at your next social gathering. But do read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While there are many ways in which the United States and the Roman Empire are similar, none of the author's conclusions have merit. The author is ignorant of the reasons why the Roman empire fell. Foreign mis-adventures, failure to control its own borders, and the Roman populace accepting full bellies and entertainment in exchange for their rights and civil liberties are a few of the major reasons for the fall of the Empire, yet the author believes that these reasons prolonged the Empire, rather than bringing about it's demise. The Roman populace surrendered their freedoms for their bread and circuses just as Americans are falling for the current version of bread and circuses by depending on the government for their needs while they are obsessed with Jersy Shore and American Idol, while sacrificing the Bill of Rights for perceived feeling of safety.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know quite what I was expecting, given the timeframe that this book had been published. What, with the endless philandering over illegal immigration sprinkled with some recent challenges we face on a global level. Maybe I was looking to come away with something that would make me think, ask hard questions or inspire me to take action. After having read the cover of this book, which cited relevance, importance and humor, more cedence was given to the old addage of not judging a book by it's cover. For the most part the book covers some interesting historical tidbits, should you have the money and time to make a quick trip to Rome or run about Europe and North Africa. Aside from that, this book felt like being on the outside of an inside joke the $24 price of admission did not cover. Mr. Murphy spends an in ornate amount of time waxing philisophical about what a border really is. And has the Roman Empire really fallen since there are remnants of it such as the word 'senator' still in use today. Towards the end of the book Mr. Murphy mentions that his father in-law came to this country from Mexico, which explains his wishy-washy stance over the preceeding 80 pages written in regards to national borders. Not being against immigration, there are some hard questions that will need a hard response for adequate resolution. Moreover, I will not cede that this country has an overwhelming mechanisim for assimilation when the cited Spanish speaking students of California who 'prefer' to speak English, desecrate the American flag in a school yard. Having served several years in the military I would have to say I find no solace in that there could be pieces of this country around centuries in the form of a word or some type of architectual achievement after it had disappeared. The end result? More dribble from the generation that brought you civil liberties.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Are We Rome is a wonderful book. Thought provoking and culturally enlightening, Murphy does a great job balancing Roman history with the the founding of the American political system and all its' modern political and cultural manifestations. His literal illustrations of the similarities and differences of Roman and American historical, political, and cultural values results in a book that is fresh in its approach and fascinating in analysis. Are We Rome makes a great addition and adds a unique twist to the recent burgeoning 'founding father' histories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Murphy says that we are like Rome because many cultures and races lived as ciitzens in peace in Rome. They did not...just like today. There was an elite who had all the power and the slaves who did their work and went to war. When the 'psudo citizens of Rome' figured this out they combined with the barbarians (huge numbers of homeless and straved people) and sacked Rome. They destroyed it. It took over 400 years for the world to recover from the wars and devistation of the Roman Empire. The far reaches of the Empire were very aware of the Roman heel when the elite taxed them to death, stole their harvests, ruined their infastructures, denied them their culture and religion (replacing it with Christianity). Forcing their culture and religion was more disasterous for the Empire than most anything. According to Chahill (How the Irish Saved Civilization) history and culture would have been destroyed by the Romans if it weren't for the fact that the Irish monks hid the books and recorded history. Ireland was very far from Rome but the distruction and tryanny was felt in every corner of their Empire. We too are becoming like Rome in these matters of an elite rule.
CharlemagneAC More than 1 year ago
...unless you want a shotgun approach to Roman history. The author strains to make his metaphor work and stretches to the point of breaking. An example of this is his ludicrous comparison to the United States after the Bush/Gore election to Rome after Nero committed suicide and the bloody civil war which followed. It is a shame, as Mr. Murphy seems to be a very smart man and one can pick up a wealth of information on the Roman Empire in this book, albeit in a disorganized and dysfunctional manner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Are We Rome' took off fast, and didn't slow down until almost the middle of the book. Then it died in the water. I couldn't read the second half of the book because it totally lost my attention. Such a shame after such an interesting and powerful start. I must admit it did connect some dots to history that I did not know.