Are We Rome? the Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America

By Welsh, Jim | Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), March 2008 | Go to article overview

Are We Rome? the Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America


Welsh, Jim, Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)


Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America Cullen Murphy, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.

This is a devious and snarky book. The title should appeal immediately to Conservatives, ready to wax nostalgic about the glories of Rome and charmed by the notion that Washington, DC, might somehow be considered the "new" Rome, not merely the center of the nation, but of the world. Seems to me, however, that this book is really about Imperial overreach, offering us a moral lesson about our problems in Iraq. Rome lasted for two thousand years, arguably, if one dates the ultimate "fall" to 1453 and the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, which was, after all, originally the East Roman Empire. Even Cullen Murphy has doubts about the exact dating of the "fall" of the West Roman Empire: was it 476 AD, he wonders, or was it 455, when the Vandals sacked Rome, or 410 when the Visigoths sacked Rome, or maybe 378, when the Roman army fell to the "barbarian hordes" at Adrianople? More to the point, perhaps, the Roman Republic came to an end in the year 31 AD, giving it a shelf life of merely 750 years. Now, that's about 500 years longer than it has taken for Presidential power to swallow up individual and Constitutional freedoms in present-day America, surrendered by a frightened and terrorized populace more interested in security than dignity and freedom. Apparently Rome faced problems similar to present-day America. Although the analogy is not always spot-on (as Murphy realizes, and admits), it is close enough to convince me that this book surely deserves to be a best-seller.

In fact, this book is as much about America in Iraq as it is about Rome, and also Afghanistan, where Bagram Air Base is "located on a sere plain beneath snowcapped spurs of the Hindu Kush, about thirty miles north of Kabul. Alexander the Great founded a city, Alexandria of the Caucasus, a few miles north of the air base" (59), which is today an "outpost of American, not Hellenic, civilization." This is astonishing evidence that America might be following Rome's Imperial example. But Rome lasted at least a thousand years. When will our decline begin, or has it already begun? Are we Rome?

A generation ago Norman Mailer asked the question "Why are we in Vietnam?" More and more frequently, the same question is being asked about Iraq (though for many, the obvious answer seems to be "oil," which would seem to be reason enough to fear electing a President from the state of Texas). Anyone who follows national events carefully should have reason to worry about the consequences of Empire-building, particularly the need for security and military strength. Politically one imagines the country split between the so-called red and blue states. Military culture is reflective of "red" state values, the Christian South, the new Bible-belt, as seen reflected in American enclaves in Iraq. After Vietnam and the end of conscription, fewer educated soldiers are going into military service.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Are We Rome? the Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.