Why Empires Fall: Rome, America, and the Future of the West (Hardcover)

Why Empires Fall: Rome, America, and the Future of the West By Peter Heather, John Rapley Cover Image

Why Empires Fall: Rome, America, and the Future of the West (Hardcover)


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A new perspective on parallels between ancient Rome and the modern world, and what comes next
“[A] provocative short book . . . with a novel twist.”—The Economist

Over the last three centuries, the West rose to dominate the planet. Then, around the start of the new millennium, history took a dramatic turn. Faced with economic stagnation and internal political division, the West has found itself in rapid decline compared to the global periphery it had previously colonized. This is not the first time we have seen such a rise and fall: the Roman Empire followed a similar arc, from dizzying power to disintegration.
Historian Peter Heather and political economist John Rapley explore the uncanny parallels, and productive differences, between ancient Rome and the modern West, moving beyond the tropes of invading barbarians and civilizational decay to unearth new lessons. From 399 to 1999, they argue, through the unfolding of parallel, underlying imperial life cycles, both empires sowed the seeds of their own destruction. Has the era of Western global domination indeed reached its end? Heather and Rapley contemplate what comes next.
Peter Heather is Chair of Medieval History at King’s College, London. His books include The Fall of the Roman Empire, Empires and Barbarians, The Restoration of Rome, Rome Resurgent, and Christendom: The Triumph of a Religion, AD 300–1300. He lives in London, UK. John Rapley is a political economist who has worked as both a theorist and practitioner in global development, publishing several books and previously teaching in the Centre of Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. He now lives as a writer, dividing his time among London, Johannesburg, and Ottawa.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300273724
ISBN-10: 030027372X
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Pages: 200
Language: English
“[A] fascinating book.”—Martin Wolf, Financial Times, “Best Summer Books of 2023: Economics”

“[A] provocative short book . . . with a novel twist.”—The Economist

“The book is certainly a useful post-Gibbonian primer in why things went wrong for the Romans—Heather’s scholarship shines through its pages.”—The Telegraph

Longlisted for the 2024 Edwards Book Award, sponsored by the Rodel Institute

“Two experienced scholars lucidly engage in contemporary debates about the future of the West and its parallels to the Roman Empire. This is comparative history done right.”—David Potter, author of Disruption: Why Things Change