A rather British review of an American book: Are We Rome?

A British review of the (renamed) British edition of 'Are We Rome?' appears in the Telegraph.

It is interesting to compare this review with the clutch of American reviews that I read last year.

American reviewers naturally tended to look hard for the lessons that the history of Rome might have for modern America. Noel Malcolm, the Telegraph reviewer, takes a cooler look. He points out that the parallels which the book tried to draw between mercenary armies employed by the later Roman Empire and multinational corporations employed by the White House are not close. In fact he points out other lessons which, he says, the book misses.

And he takes time to list some historical inaccuracies in the book – and to query the word 'civus'.

The review concludes:

While the grand thesis of this book fails to convince, however, there are many incidental pleasures to be had along the way. Murphy is a beguiling writer with a good eye for detail, who has read widely among both ancient writers and modern historians of Rome.

But, for a fastidious author, he makes some surprising mistakes – for example, using 'expostulate' when he means 'expectorate', or putting Bishop Berkeley in the mid-19th century, and attributing to him a quotation that comes in fact from a book published in 1885 by the Revd Dr Josiah Strong.

Charitably, let us assume that the misprint 'Civus Romanus sum' was the typesetter's responsibility, not his. But the fact that such a howler could pass unchallenged all the way through the proof-reading process suggests that the barbarians are indeed within the gates.

Read the whole review.

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