After all the references to Thucydides and the Sicilian expedition (the best one is here), I suppose it’s refreshing to see someone move on to Rome, with a book for light summer beach reading. I wonder if it contains a discussion of our obsession with food.
Update: Before I let the Rome thing go, let me offer a couple of comments, having just surfaced from teaching Livy in a summer school class. If we’re going to focus on the way that America is like the Roman Empire, let’s not forget about the decline in civic virtue and public spirit, especially among the elites. That was certainly one of Livy’s concerns. I’d also note that after 9/11, President Bush had an opportunity to galvanize us with a call for sacrifice. Instead, he told us to go shopping. And finally, I recently made an argument in a paper for this conference that Livy teaches us about the importance of "family values" for Roman republicanism, something that we who think of family in terms of personal gratification perhaps don’t fully appreciate. So let’s by all means think about the domestic implications of the Roman analogy. If we’re going to apply it to GWB and our foreign policy, let’s look in the mirror.