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By Thomas Allen on 12-20-08
A real eye opener
Before this book, I had many uninformed notions on Rome based on the movies and TV shows that only served to expand my ignorance. This book changed all that. I am amazed at the similarities between the first several hundred years of Rome, when it was a republic, and the United States up to this point. I am surprised at the changes (not always good) that come with an overall peace, and I was greatly interested at the relationship between Rome and Greece (much like our relationship -or obsession- with Western Europe).
As one who does not practice western religion, I found his coverage of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to be very even handed... That is to say that this book will make them all either have a hard and logical internal look at themselves (not likely), or to have a purely emotional response and write the book off as tripe because it hurts their sensibilities (yeah, probably this).
It also weighs in against conservatives and liberals fairly equally. I am a relatively conservative person and had to take several moments to step back and digest the point of the discussion without letting my personal biases get in the way. Then the book was incredibly informative.
The writer writes in a very conversational tone that is easy to digest because it really connects with the listener. And the narrator fits the content perfectly.
Whoever you are, parts of this book are going to upset you. But if you can get past that and look at the information presented objectively, this is an excellent choice.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
By Jeffery S. Dibartolo on 03-22-09
Interesting but too myopic
I found the premise of this book interesting and I agree with many of its concepts to varying degrees. However, I found the analysis of the expansion of the Roman empire to be far too simplistic and uniform - especially coming from such a scholarly writer - and the relentless comparison of the Roman and American spheres of influence as Empires of Trust reaches the point of monotony. In particular, the idea that the Romans were reluctant empire-builders is dubious at best - certainly not the consensus viewpoint of ancient scholars. Of particular interest, nevertheless, are the following: (1) the comparison of American and Roman morality and religious values (2) the comparison of Rome's relationship to to the Old World (Greece) to America's relationship with the Old World (Europe) and (3) the comparison of America's struggle against radical Muslim fundamentalism to Rome's war against radical Zionists. Whether or not one agrees with Prof. Madden's conclusions, this book is worth consideration.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful