Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny

Basic. Nov. 2018. 352p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780465093816. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780465093823. POL SCI
In this swift and competent work, Watts (history, Univ. of California San Diego; The Final Pagan Generation) argues that analyzing how the Roman Republic gave way to the Augustan Principate in 27 BCE can explicate the current situation within the United States. The author traverses the period stretching from Rome's rise to preeminence during the second Punic War (218–02 BCE) to the end of the republic, detailing key developments, particularly focusing on the abandonment of compromise and traditional norms that held Roman politics together and fostered centuries of stability. While there are striking similarities of norm abandonment as well as the vilification of both political opponents and compromise in the United States, one cannot help but note that the story of Rome's collapse is one of increasing political and civil violence.
VERDICT Watts's latest offers a solid argument and serves as a fine historical companion to Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt's How Democracies Die. It will appeal to audiences interested in both popular Roman history and contemporary American affairs.—Evan M. Anderson, Kirkendall P.L., Ankeny, IA
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