My Review of The Storm Before The Storm

The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic by Mike Duncan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first encountered Mike Duncan from his impressive History of Rome podcast, which I listened to all the way through, and I since been listening to his Revolutions podcast, which is equally good. So when he announced that he was writing a book I knew I would buy it. This is a book about how the Roman Republic became a imperial dictatorship, and it has great relevance in the days of Trump. When the founders of the American experiment in democracy were constructing their system (embodied in the Constitution) they were very aware of the historical precedents of the end of democracy in Greece and Rome, and attempted to build in safeguards against the failure modes shown in those precedents. Trumps attempts to become President for Life are echoes of Sulla (though Sulla did lay down power after accomplishing his aims), but it looks like Trump will not succeed. But the example of Rome also points out the dangers of extreme inequality that happens when the oligarchy pursues its self-interest at the expense of the wider population, and the Social Wars tell a tale of how restricting citizenship disrupts society. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history, or an interest in how countries change their social and political arrangements.

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