The Storm Before the Storm

The Storm Before the Storm

The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic

Book - 2017
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Grand Central Pub

The creator of the award-winning podcast series The History of Rome and Revolutions brings to life the bloody battles, political machinations, and human drama that set the stage for the fall of the Roman Republic.

The Roman Republic was one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of civilization. Beginning as a small city-state in central Italy, Rome gradually expanded into a wider world filled with petty tyrants, barbarian chieftains, and despotic kings. Through the centuries, Rome's model of cooperative and participatory government remained remarkably durable and unmatched in the history of the ancient world.

In 146 BC, Rome finally emerged as the strongest power in the Mediterranean. But the very success of the Republic proved to be its undoing. The republican system was unable to cope with the vast empire Rome now ruled: rising economic inequality disrupted traditional ways of life, endemic social and ethnic prejudice led to clashes over citizenship and voting rights, and rampant corruption and ruthless ambition sparked violent political clashes that cracked the once indestructible foundations of the Republic.

Chronicling the years 146-78 BC, The Storm Before the Storm dives headlong into the first generation to face this treacherous new political environment. Abandoning the ancient principles of their forbearers, men like Marius, Sulla, and the Gracchi brothers set dangerous new precedents that would start the Republic on the road to destruction and provide a stark warning about what can happen to a civilization that has lost its way.

Baker & Taylor
Offers a history of the events that led to the downfall of the Roman Republic from the year 146 BC to 78 BC, as its emergence as the strongest power in the region resulted in a success that contained the seeds of its decline.

& Taylor

Recreating the turbulent years from 133-80 BCE, the author tells the story of the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic—a tale of the first generation that had to cope with the dangerous new political environment made possible by Rome’s unrivaled domination over the known world—drawing many parallels to present-day America. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York, NY : PublicAffairs, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781610397216
Branch Call Number: 937.05 DUN 2017
Characteristics: pages cm


From Library Staff

jeanlh Oct 07, 2018

If you like Mike Duncan's podcasts, you'll like this book. Very interesting, comfortable read about the Roman Republic before the fall. As with his podcast Revolutions, one can see aspects of today's society in the past.

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May 21, 2019

A terrific, if a bit plainly written, narrative history of one of the most interesting eras in ancient history (roughly, 130 BC to 70 BC). The personalities and events, of willpower and luck, and the restricted evidence (much of it from ancient biographies of Plutarch) keep the subject riveting. The author doesn't get bogged down in historiographical detail or arguments, nor does he use pompous academic language. He does use modern scholarship (including Badian and Syme, among my, what I may call, my old friends). The maps are poor. There are no diagrams for clarity. Doesn't explain much of the other institutions like farm production, military equipment and training, religion and superstition, the family, shipping; he keeps close to the political-military course of events.

Apr 15, 2019

Entertaining and very accessible history of the chicanery and bloody machinations during the Roman Republic, before its expansion into an empire.
Surprisingly fast-paced narrative. Little known period of Roman history with potential echoes in current world affairs.

Feb 18, 2019

This was a fascinating period in Rome's history. This book covers the territory quickly, in a fairly dry, factual way. I would have liked better maps to clearly place not just the countries, but the main cities, and the routes the armies took. For those who want to see Marius, Jugurtha, Sulla, the Gracchi, Mark Antony, Pompey and Caesar brought to life, I highly recommend Colleen McCullough's series that covers the same decades as The Storm Before the Storm. The first book is "First Man in Rome" and the last two in the series are The October Horse, followed by a sort of added-on "Antony and Cleopatra". She used the same historical sources as Duncan did and spent years researching everything Roman prior to writing this amazing series that brings Rome to life on its pages. The political rules, the truly bizarre religious ceremonies, the daily lives of people at different levels of society, how the armies functioned, and the ups and downs of the failing political system -- it's all there in the Masters of Rome series. Marius deserves to be known by anyone who claims (or feigns) an interest in the history of Ancient Rome. A remarkable man !

Feb 15, 2019

Fascinating book, by an obvious expert on the subject. He is quick to share the sources of his knowledge, too, for those of us who wish to know more: a full list of the ancient writers and their texts is included.

What do most of us know about the "Romans" or, the "Roman Empire"? Only what we know through Sword-and-Sandal movies (usually through the lens of the Christian movement) or either novels of the legionaries or the romances based on the intrigue of Rome's powerful. A little more, recently, with TV series such as Rome--reflecting the city's early, formative days.

This book focuses on the 200 years just before the birth of Christ--and the obvious decline of the empire. Yes, it tells the many (incredible!) tales of the mighty, but also puts it all into much needed context and perspective. In doing so, readers discover just how Rome worked: who was it that operated businesses? Who, exactly, was the "working class"? Who owned land--and how? More important, who DIDN'T own land--and why. What did it take to secure and maintain control of the burgeoning empire's foreign holdings (for example, in what is now Turkey, Spain and North Africa)? What happened when it didn't work out--because it often didn't.

The stories of the influential families and personages--and how they built that influence--Is extremely interesting. It's been easy to draw parallels with events othat took place over 2,000 years ago. Too easy: there are many important differences that make such comparisons often faulty, but the conundrums faced by Senators and those in the Assembly--economic and class inequality, corruption and vice, avarice and the thirst for power--are all too familiar. We witness them here, in the early 21st century. It gives new meaning to the American riots of racism and riots of the 1920s and 1960s and 1970s...

So far--at least in the western world--we have avoided the plunge into the state-sanctioned violence that Rome suffered through--hundreds of years before Christianity and barbarians would destroy the empire--but who knows?

Never say "never."

jeanlh Oct 07, 2018

If you like Mike Duncan's podcasts, you'll like this book. Very interesting, comfortable read about the Roman Republic before the fall. As with his podcast Revolutions, one can see aspects of today's society in the past.

Sep 12, 2018

The message is pretty clear about what it takes to preserve a republic -- and how hard it can be.


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