Thursday, August 21, 2003

Rubicon by Tom Holland

Reviewed by Harry Eyres

"In September 1939 Ronald Syme brought out The Roman Revolution, his great account of how the feuding and excessive lust for power of Rome's leading clans, long before the emergence of Augustus, betrayed the Republic, that supposed template of virtuous self-government, and ruined the Roman people. It was a sombre warning to a world that had just plunged into war of how a power-crazed oligarchy, blindly caught up in its own jostling, could lead inexorably to civil (indeed world) war and dictatorship, and the suppression of political freedoms for centuries.
Tom Holland's engrossing new retelling of the Republic's last gory century, though very different in tone and intended audience (Syme's book was aimed at a narrow elite of academics, opinion-formers and politicians, Holland writes for a general readership) is also meant partly as a warning, with at least half an eye on the present era of American global domination."
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