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Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  12 reviews
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 pol
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Basic Books
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Sumit RK
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
"No Republic is eternal. It lives only as long as its citizens want it.”
In Mortal Republic, historian Edward J. Watts offers a new history of the fall of the Roman Republic that explains the collapse of democracy in the Republic and the rise of an autocratic Roman Empire.

At its peak, Rome was the world’s only democratic power of its time. Its governing institutions, parliamentary rules, and political customs successfully fostered negotiation and compromise. Rome judged each man’s by his mer
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Peter Mcloughlin
The founders of the US had the Roman Republic present in their minds as they were constructing the US republic. Many of the institutions created outside of the English common law were modeled on political ideals inspired by earlier republics. Rome being the most important example of the ancient world was the most important model. To keep from falling into tyranny or dictatorship republics like Rome had many power centers that had checks on each other to make sure consensus was achieved before ac ...more
Arybo ✨
The past is no Oracle and historians are not prophets, but this does not mean that it is wrong to look to antiquity for help understanding the present.

This was intense.

No republic is eternal. It lives only as long as its citizens want it.

As soon as I finished the book I thought it would be a labor of Hercules to make a comprehensive review, especially because the book is exhaustive in itself.

Romans had avoided political violence for three centuries before a series of political murders rocked
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Marks54
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is an often repeated saying attributed to Mark Twain but probably apocryphal that “history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme” - or something like that. The author is a senior history professor at Cal-San Diego who has written an account of the death of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire with the death of Julius Caesar and the rise of Augustus as emperor. The story is an old one that is often told. I first ran into it watching “I Claudius” on public television.

Watts p
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Mark
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a interesting book — one with a very relevant message.
Shoshana
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating and timely book this is. This is the history of how the Roman Republic transmuted into an autocracy; going from an austere, honor-driven, consensus based society to an unimaginably wealthy oligarchy which rested on the shoulders of one man. Well-written and beautifully flowing, this is a hard book to put down.

Watts describes the early Republic, with its interlocking system of mutual responsibility, where the most sought after goods; that is, honors and public acclaim, were the
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Karl
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I have this scene playing in my head of some book publisher checking his Twitter in 2018 and declaring “Books about the fall of republics are hot right now! Get me a Roman historian.” This book promises an analysis and description of the violent end of the Roman Republic, an always worthy and interesting subject. My complaint then is that the author provides little analysis and the description is too high level for the reader to draw their own conclusions. In fact, it is hard to figure out who t ...more
Matt McCormick
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
The book is a fine overview of 300-years of Roman history to the end of the Augustinian age.

Watts writes well and this chronological description of the Empire was interesting and easily digested. What it lacked, and what I was looking for, was a compelling analysis of the "why". Why did the Republic allow freedom to vanish and autocrats to rule? I think readers will simply infer, based on their own prejudices, the causes. This isn't to say that Watt's doesn't provide some thoughts on the subject
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Anne Morgan
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A study of several hundred years of ancient Rome, “Mortal Republic” tries to analyze why it became vulnerable to dictators and eventually fell. I found the writing style largely dry and often too repetitive, reading like a basic history textbook than anything else. As fascinating as the subject should be, this was often more of a slog of recited dates, names, and battles than the political study I was expecting. Watts’ conclusion, that the Republic fell to tyrants like Julius Caesar and eventual ...more
Elentarri
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 Aug
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Vance J.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
“...the Republic did not need to die. A Republic is not an organism. It has no natural lifespan. It lives or dies solely on the basis of the choices made by those in charge of its custody.” P.280). I’ll call this Watt’s thesis statement. I think he makes a good case that when people placed the overall welfare of the state above themselves, the Republic was strong. When personal ambitions and rivalries rose, however, and conflict resulted. A good read. Hard not to miss the parallels to the last 1 ...more
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Edward Watts teaches history at the University of California, San Diego, He received his PhD in History from Yale University in 2002. His research interests center on the intellectual and religious history of the Roman Empire and the early Byzantine Empire.