The decline of Rome has been a constant source of discussion for more than 2200 years. Everyone from American journalists in the 21st century AD to Roman politicians at the turn of the third century BC have used it as a tool to illustrate the negative consequences of changes in their world. For those who would make Rome great again and their victims, ideas of Roman decline and renewal have had a long and violent history.
Watts...takes his readers from republican Rome to Republican Washington with a resounding theme that anyone promising to restore lost greatness is probably up to no good ... This is a powerful lens through which to view the past, both for those who already think they know it well and those who have practical uses for it ... Elegant analysis ... He gives a masterly account of the complex family who founded the Roman empire’s last and longest-lasting dynasty.
Watts has provided not a history of Rome in the longue durée, but an intriguing examination of the very idea of 'Decline and Fall' ... Watts’s chapters provide vignettes to understand the political use of the idea of decline to attempt to gain or retain power ... A learned and provocative book.
History professor Watts accomplishes an impressive feat by effectively compressing the vast history of Rome and its empire into a relatively short book. For nonacademic readers, however, following the massive cast of characters...may sometimes prove difficult ... The author engagingly shows how, from the start, Roman leaders used that cyclical narrative of deterioration and restoration both to govern and to divide their people ... A fresh, complex story of how historical perceptions come into being and are used to persuade and rule.