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Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, by Adrian Goldsworthy

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. Pp. xiv, 514. Illus., maps, chron., notes, biblio., index. $32.50. ISBN: 0300178824.

Why did the Roman Empire Last so Long?

In his new book, the author, already acclaimed for such notable works as Augustus: First Emperor of Rome, surveys the entire range of Roman history, from the city’s mythic origins to the collapse of the Empire in the West, to explain not why Rome “fell”, but rather how it grew to be so expansive and why it lasted so long.

This is less a blow-by-blow history of the rise and greatness of Rome than an attempt to explain why the Romans, who were little different than their many enemies in their thirst for conquest, greed, and brutality, were able to establish one of the most enduring empires in history, unlike any of their erstwhile competitors. So while there’s a lot about wars, rebellions, and chronic unrest, consuls and proconsuls, emperors and kings, there’s more about trade, government, security, and collaboration. Perhaps most importantly of all, Goldsworthy discusses how the success the Romans had in turning erstwhile conquered subjects into Romans, and the relative openness of Roman society, such that the some of a former slave might become emperor, contributed to the spread and remarkable durability of their empire.

Pax Romana is a valuable read for even the most serious student of Roman history, and would be profitable reading for the layman interested in learning more about why Rome rose, endured for so long, and then fell.

Note: Pax Romana is also available in paperback, $22.00, ISBN 978-0-3002-3062-8, and as an eBook, ISBN 978-0-300-22445-0.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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