Being a weblog devoted to a variety of topics. Including Mathematics. And Mathematical Finance. Sometimes with homework.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Book Report - Imperium

I recently finished reading Imperium by Robert Harris. The events in the book recount Cicero's rise to power in the turbulent political scene of first century Rome.

I read his book Pompeii some time ago and it was quite engaging. In Pompeii, a Roman engineer must determine why the aqueduct in Misenum has run dry. It turns out (no surprise to any mildly informed reader) that the problem is related to the impending eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. (Many other interesting things happen along the way.)

Imperium is somewhat different - more historical and less fiction than Pompeii. Harris claims that nothing in the book contradicts historically recorded events, and, moreover, he claims that every potentially verifiable event actually happened. I don't know about that, but the story coincides with everything I know about Roman history.

Making comparisons between our nation and times and events in ancient Rome is a common hobby. One needs to be careful when doing this. Our culture and times are very different from the period described in this book. Nonetheless there are some useful conclusions one can draw. One of the most important lessons that history teaches is that human nature never changes. With that in mind, this book shows in a fun, entertaining and educational way how even the most naked power grab can be cloaked in high minded rhetoric.

If you will be voting this November, I recommend that you read this book, and take another close look at our two candidates before you do so.

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