Mortal Republic by Edward J. Watts

Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny  - Edward J. Watts

TITLE:  Mortal Republic:  How Rome Fell Into Tyranny

 

AUTHOR:  Edward J. Watts

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  6 November 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13:  978-0-465-09381-6

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NOTE: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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Book Description:

"A new history of the Roman Republic and its collapse.

In Mortal Republic, prizewinning historian Edward J. Watts offers a new history of the fall of the Roman Republic that explains why Rome exchanged freedom for autocracy. For centuries, even as Rome grew into the Mediterranean's premier military and political power, its governing institutions, parliamentary rules, and political customs successfully fostered negotiation and compromise. By the 130s BC, however, Rome's leaders increasingly used these same tools to cynically pursue individual gain and obstruct their opponents. As the center decayed and dysfunction grew, arguments between politicians gave way to political violence in the streets. The stage was set for destructive civil wars--and ultimately the imperial reign of Augustus.

The death of Rome's Republic was not inevitable. In Mortal Republic, Watts shows it died because it was allowed to, from thousands of small wounds inflicted by Romans who assumed that it would last forever.
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I usually battle to enjoy history books that deal with the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire - they are just too confusing and boring.  THIS book is different.  I actually enjoyed reading it.  The writing is clear and accessible, the subject straightforward, and the relevance of that subject to the current political climate highlighted.  

Mortal Republic covers the Roman Republic period between 280 BC and 27 BC, when the Roman Senate formally granted Octavian overarching power and the new title Augustus, effectively marking the end of the Roman Republic.  This book is not a biography of any particular set of Romans nor is it exclusively a military history.  It does however successfully weave together politics, military, social and biographical details, along with the how and why events occurred and what this meant for the Repbulic in the long term.  
 
In addition to a general history of the Roman Republic, Watts attempts to understand the current political realities of our world by studying what went wrong in the ancient Roman Republic, upon which many modern republics are based.  The author makes evident that serious problems arise from both politicians who disrupt a republic's political norms, and from the citizens who choose not to punish them for doing so.  In the end, Romans came to believe that liberty - political stability and freedom from domestic violence and foreign interference - could only exist in a political entity controlled by one man.  This book explores why one of the longest-existing republics traded the liberty of political autonomy for the security of autocracy.  

I found this book to be enjoyable, well-written and providing a new perspective on an old topic.