Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A lively, extremely well-informed chronicle of nearly
seven decades of Roman political and social life... Drawing on ancient sources as
well as modern histories, the author reveals chilling parallels to our own
time... Crucial decades in the history of the ancient world vividly rendered." Kirkus Reviews
"Mike Duncan turns his talent for clear and engaging
exposition to an underappreciated period of Roman history: the last days of the
Republic, before the rise of Caesar and the agonizing civil wars that yielded
the Roman Empire. Duncan's readable and witty style, and his eye for the
telling detail and memorable anecdote, carry the reader through a gripping
narrative." Peter Adamson, professor of philosophy, LMU Munich, and host of History of Philosophy
"Never has a book about history that's two millennia
old been so timely. Duncan, in the sort of narrative prose that caused his
podcasts to electrify history lovers everywhere, tells the story of the decay
of Republican Rome-and its contemporary relevance drips off every page. The
Storm Before the Storm has everything from vividly portrayed populist
demagogues exploiting economic and social inequality to the failure of
calcified republican institutions to adapt to changing circumstances. You'll
learn as much about the problems we face today from this book as from any
newspaper." Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
"Written with the humor and storytelling instincts
that made him such a popular podcaster, Duncan brilliantly answers a vital
question that is rarely asked: What weakened the late Roman Republic enough
that it collapsed under the ambitions of the Caesars? This is history as it
should be-compelling, witty, and ultimately revealing." Lars Brownworth, author of In Distant Lands: A Short History of the Crusades
"The Storm Before the Storm is massively
entertaining and relevant to our own time. All times, in fact. War, politics,
money, power, corruption, and class warfare seem to overwhelm the republican
Roman political system and the results are horrifying. Huge personalities like
Marius and Sulla cast a large shadow, but forces beyond anyone's control seem
to drive the narrative. A chilling reminder of what can happen in any republic.
Masterfully told." Dan Carlin, host of Hardcore History
About the Author
Mike Duncan is one of the foremost history podcasters in the world. His award winning series The History of Rome chronologically narrated the entire history of the Roman Empire over 189 weekly episodes. Running from 2007-2012, The History of Rome has generated more than 56 million downloads and remains one of the most popular history podcasts on the internet. Duncan has continued this success with his ongoing series Revolutions — which so far has explored the English, American, French, and Haitian Revolutions. Since debuting in September 2013, Revolutions has generated more than 12 million downloads. Thanks to the worldwide popularity of his podcasts, Duncan has led fans on a number of sold-out guided tours of Italy, England, and France to visit historic sites from Ancient Rome to the French Revolution. Duncan also collaborates with illustrator Jason Novak on informative cartoons that humorously explain the historical context for current events. Their work has been featured in the New Yorker, Paris Review, Awl, and Morning News.